Rampant fare and toll evasion hurts New York, MTA says

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority loses millions of dollars in revenue each year from people who evade paying fares and tolls and now wants to crack down on scofflaws in a way that doesn't unfairly target anyone, the CEO said. 

Chair and CEO Janno Lieber has formed what he calls a blue-ribbon panel to brainstorm "fresh approaches to reducing fare evasion across the entire MTA system of subways, buses, commuter rails, bridges and tunnels." He said enforcement is important in part because some fare-beating is linked to violent crime in the transit system.

"Our New York sense of fairness and community is violated when rule-abiding, honest folks — people who tap or swipe because they know it's the right thing to do, even if it's a stretch economically — see others dodging the fare," Lieber said in a statement. "What hardworking, fare paying New Yorkers tell us, in a word, is that seeing fare evasion makes them feel like suckers. Fare evasion is a problem we need to solve together."

The MTA runs the subways, buses, the Staten Island Railway, the Long Island Rail Road, the Metro-North Railroad, seven toll bridges, and two toll tunnels. The agency said the rate of turnstile jumping in the subways has nearly tripled in recent years and that about one out of every three bus riders skips paying the fare. 

"Fare evasion on bridge and tunnel crossings has also become an issue with an increase in fake and obscured license plates designed to evade tolling cameras," the MTA said. 

Lieber said the panel, which includes social justice advocates, will look at ways the MTA can work with New York City to help low-income New Yorkers access subways and buses.