After successfully catching a fare beater and making them purchase a MetroCard, New York City Transit president Andy Byford planes to use new tactics to curb fare evasion.
During an MTA board meeting, Byford stated that executives from the agency’s main office will soon be tasked with patrolling subway stations and buses to physically block anyone attempting to score a free ride, reports the New York Post.
“We will get teams of people from the head office to, on a random basis, go and either ride buses, or stand at gate arrays and provide a physical block to make sure that you have a ticket before you go into that station or onto that bus,” said Byford. “We will, of course, have [additional] teams or police to back us up.”
Byford also plans to have more surveillance cameras installed in subway stations and is working with the NYPD to get more officers assigned in certain stations.
Earlier this year, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance helped to decriminalize turnstile jumping by announcing that he would no longer prosecute individuals charged with fare evasion. Instead, violators would be issued civil summonses or desk appearance tickets. Then-MTA chairman Joe Lhota denounced the decision, stating that it wasn’t fair to paying customers.
Activists argue that evasion arrests disproportionately impact New Yorkers of color and further congest the already burdened court system with thousands of cases. Some MTA board members expressed concern that Byford’s new plan could single out people of color.
"As we move toward additional enforcement, I want to see equity, not a race-based approach." MTA board member David Jones, expressing frustration at only now being shown data illustrating fare evasion is a systemwide problem; while enforcement has targeted Black & Latino men.— Tabitha Decker (@Metrophile) December 3, 2018
The MTA claims that fare evasion will lead to $215 million in lost revenue this year. Byford stated that roughly 16 percent of bus riders skip the fare, while about four percent of subway riders hop the turnstiles.