MTA: $215M lost to fare evasion

The cash-strapped MTA says the New York City subway system lost an estimated $215 million this year due to people jumping turnstiles.

At a special meeting on Monday, the transit agency outlined the problem and even released a video showing person-after-person jumping the turnstiles or crawling underneath them instead of paying the $2.75 fare.

The MTA claims more 200,000 people ride subway trains every day without paying.  That is nearly 4 percent of all customers.  The problem is even worse on buses.  An estimated 16 percent of all riders are not paying, or about 348,000 people a day.  That means more than half-a-million people are riding public transportation a day without paying.

The transit agency claims it plans a crackdown on fare evasion but is hampered by a lack of prosecutions.

The NYPD has cut back on the number of arrests and summonses issued for fare evasion after complaints of minorities being targeted by enforcement.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office has also stopped criminal prosecution for fare evasion.

The MTA says the lost fares mean less service and less comfort for paying riders.  Among the things the agency is proposing is cutting the amount of heat and air conditioning it pumps into trains and cutting the number of employees who clean the inside of subway cars.

The MTA is also considering fare hikes to raise more money.   It faces a $1 billion budget gap in the coming years.

Ironically, the start of the MTA board meeting had to be delayed because one of the board members was stuck on the subway.