Fare evasion spiking on MTA buses
NEW YORK - Fare evasion is spiking on New York City buses, and with the MTA facing a financial crisis, people not paying for a ride every day could end up having a major impact.
A FOX 5 NY camera crew took a ride on a bus in the Bronx and watched as dozens of people slipped through the bus' back door to avoid paying the $2.75 fare.
"I don't like it," said one rider, "and I think something should be done about it."
Not having proof of a ticket can cost a $100 fine, if you get caught.
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Fares and tolls make up roughly 40% of the MTA's budget and right now evasion is spiking on subways, buses, and even on bridges.
"I actually stop people who walk up to the turnstile," said Janno Lieber, the MTA CEO. "With their OMNY cards on with their OMNY phone in their hand and see the gate open and go for the gate. And then I say you know better than that, and then they go pay."
At a New York State Legislature hearing Monday, Lieber was grilled about the transit agency's dire financial forecast, which bracing to be short billions of dollars. While low ridership is part of the reason, fare evasion isn't helping.
"They're not doing anything about it," a rider told FOX 5. "It's unfair for those of us who do pay."
And with MTA planning to raise rates by 5.5% to $2.90, paying riders will only grow more resentful. The agency plans on spending an additional $10 million to grow its EAGLE security team, tasked with checking for proof of payment. But with so many busses and so many stops and so many evaders, some argue that the city should make the bus system free, similar to Washington D.C.'s recent decision.
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"What are the chances we can do that in New York City?" asked New York State Senator John Liu.
"I am concerned about moving quickly into something which is a massive experiment without having thought through the unintended consequences," Lieber said.