Under State Senate bill, fare-jumping could carry $500 fineBy
Spurred on by numerous articles this past fall detailing the money the MTA loses to fare-baiting, the State Senate on Monday approved a bill that could hike fines to $500 for those who do not pay their fares. Sponsored by Charles J. Fuschillo of Merrick, the measure increases the cap on civil fines for violations of NYC Transit’s Rules of Conduct from $100 to $500 and could go into effect if the state Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo approve of the measure. The bill also raises the penalty for failing to pay a fine from $50 to $100.
“The MTA and its fare-paying riders shouldn’t have to spend tens of millions of dollars more each year paying for other people’s illegal free rides. At a time when every dollar counts, the MTA needs stronger tools to discourage fare-evasion. Higher fines would create a stronger deterrent and remove the incentive which actually encourages people to try and beat the system. I’m pleased that the Senate has passed this legislation and I urge the Assembly to join us,” Senator Fuschillo, Chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, said in a statement.
In his statement touting the bill’s passage, Fuschillo references the Daily News reports that noted 50,000 straphangers a day entered the subway system without paying in 2010. Ostensibly, the MTA lost out on $31 million in revenue, and the News found that a scofflaw could come out ahead by receiving a $100 ticket every six to eight weeks rather than ponying up for a $104 monthly pass.
I have to wonder though if Fuschillo’s measure won’t get to the root of the problem (or if there’s even a problem). Those 50,000 straphangers per day represent approximately 1 percent of the MTA’s daily ridership. Thus, the authority’s bleed rate is exceedingly low for any business. Without cops stationed at every station at any hour — a terrible use of NYPD manhours — people will find a way to ride the rails without paying. The new fines are certainly high enough to serve as a deterrent, and yet, a $500 fine for a fare jumper strikes me as just a wee bit excessive.