Jump turnstile; pay a higher fine


Over the past twenty years, New Yorkers have seen their subway fares increase by 100 percent from a base fare of $1.00 in 1988 to the $2.00 we pay today. Meanwhile, fines for breaking the subway rules have stagnated, and a perp caught jumping the turnstile today pays the same $60 today as he or she would have doled out in 1988. Now, considering law-abiding passengers are getting held up for more money, those fines just don’t seem, well, fair.

At least, that’s what New York City Transit thinks, and the agency is trying to increase fines levied on everything from subway vandalism to fare-jumpers and weapons charges. Brooke Naylor and Pete Donohue had more in the Daily News:

Fines for all bus and subway rule violations will likely go up, some doubling to $200, the Daily News has learned. Smoking, littering, vandalism, taking up two seats – you name it – NYC Transit wants the fines to go up since they haven’t risen in two decades.

NYC Transit President Howard Roberts on Thursday said he wants a stiffer penalty for fare-beating to serve as a deterrent. One source said fare-beating fines – now $60 – likely will be upped to roughly $100.

Sources said the authority is drafting higher penalties for all 45 types or categories of violations. Roberts said he’d like to double the maximum penalty of $100 now applied to four offenses: vandalism/obstructing train or bus traffic, committing “harmful acts,” carrying weapons and carrying explosives.

According to Naylor and Donohue, the MTA board will have to approve the higher fines, and some may require legislative action as well. It’s hard to see anyone voting against higher fines for quality-of-life violations in the subway.

While the MTA is doing all it can to draw in more revenue from the limited options available to it, this move seems to me like a no-brainer. And I can only wonder why it’s taken the transportation authority twenty years to act on this issue. After all, $60 in the 1988 is now worth nearly $109. We’re letting fare-jumpers off cheap these days.

Recycled MetroCard artwork photo by flickr user

Categories : MTA Absurdity

9 Responses to “Jump turnstile; pay a higher fine”

  1. ScottE says:

    Aren’t there already city and state laws about brandishing weapons, carrying explosives, commiting vandalism, and obstructing traffic? Even fare evasion probably could fall under the general category of trespassing.

    Except for perhaps the “taking up two seats” rule, a lot of this just sounds like extra, unnecessary legal bureaucracy to me.

  2. Marc Shepherd says:

    The $60 fine for fare-evasion is high enough already. That’s thirty times the fare—surely enough to be a significant deterrent. Also, riders sometimes jump the turnstile for “innocent” reasons (e.g., the card reader doesn’t work), but are forced to pay the fine anyway.

    On the other hand, the penalty for vandals is only $100, but the damage they cause surely costs the MTA a lot more than that to repair. And there’s never an innocent explanation for vandalism.

    • It was $60 in 1988; it’s still $60. Wouldn’t economics demand a price adjustment?

      I know a lot of fare-jumpers do so out of supposedly innocent reasons, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

      • Harper says:

        yes it does

        • hbomb1947 says:

          Right on, Mark Shepherd. I always use a monthly unlimited- ride Metrocard, so by definition I am incapable of committing fare evasion. But sometimes due to crappy card readers on the turnstile, I get a “just used” message and am forced to turnstile-jump. Under the MTA rules, I could get a (bogus) ticket for fare evasion (and one time I did). People in my situation are totally different from “perps” who are actually trying to gain illegal entry into the transit system.

  3. Marc Shepherd says:

    I’m just making a comparison. Fare evasion and vandalism should both be punished. But in relation to the damage they cause, either we’re grossly over-punishing fare evasion, or we’re grossly under-punishing vandalism. My guess is the latter, given that the fare-evasion penalty is 30 times the damage, but the vandalism penalty is less than the damage.

    You could make other comparisons. For instance, the penalty for under-paying your taxes isn’t anywhere near 30 times the amount you owed. I think it’s also relevant (though not dispositive) that fare evasion sometimes has an innocent explanation, but vandalism never does.

    My guess is that the economics were out of whack to begin with, and they ought to fix it by raising the fine for vandalims much more dramatically.

  4. herenthere says:

    I definitely think they should raise the penalties much higher-the higher the opportunity cost, the less likely someone will commit the crime (like Singapore’s death penalty for drug traffickers.) But the MTA also needs more transit cops to patrol and administer the fines-otherwise no enforcement = this is just another PR “stunt.”


  1. […] up on an item from May, the New York Post reports that the MTA Board will approve an increase in fare-evasion fines from […]

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