2018-12-12 / Editorials

Fare-Beating

New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) Chief Andy Byford announced a $215 million shortfall in current and expected subway revenue due to an estimated 500,000 people regularly evading the fare on the buses and trains (more evaders riding the buses). It is a disgrace and a shame that people are not paying their share to ride.

This is really unacceptable. It is unfair to those who work hard, endure horrible, chaotic service (or lack of it), and still pay. Those who are riding for free are abusing and straining the system without contributing, so the costs fall on others.

Because of a total budgetary gap of $991 million through 2022, MTA has announced fare increases next year, and (more!) potential service cuts. Lack of service overnights and weekends has led to a similar loss of revenue, with 69 million less rides overnights and weekends between 2016 and 2017.

We recommend they take the opposite tack: lowering the fare to $2, and enforcing it. That way everyone will pay. They should also make MetroCards easier to access. Should they run out of rides, those who are not near train stations cannot refill their cards. They must scrounge up 11 quarters or 27 dimes and a nickel (or 55 nickels, just for some perspective), as the bus entry does not take dollar bills.

If they would lower the fares, making it affordable, we would all be able to pay our fair share. If it were more affordable, that would easily replace that $215 million for MTA to then pay for needed repairs and maintenance, and perhaps surveillance.

They are increasing police presence, however. Fare-beating has skyrocketed since the NYPD stopped arresting them. Police do still give out civil summonses carrying a $100 fine. Fare-beaters will be arrested if they have outstanding warrants for felonies or misdemeanors, are on parole or probation or committed a serious crime in the past 10 years. (Chief Byford reportedly stated he would have his executives and police physically block fare beaters. We have to hope he was joking, for if this is any indication of his idea of efficiency, we are doomed.)

While we are at it, the price of postage is also going crazy, so people are using their computers more and more and “snail mail” less and less. This is counterproductive. Rather than raise prices, they should find ways to run these services more productively and less wastefully. That would encourage greater usage, getting the ball rolling in the right direction, and leading to growth rather than decline.

They are talking about a 10% increase, which is not much to someone who mails out three items a month, but for a business that can mail hundreds of pieces a week, they will feel it. And like the trains, this is amid degraded service. While historically postal workers have been wonderful, and we would welcome them into our home and office any time, with so much lost mail it seems their mission of “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” has been abandoned.

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