Don’t Jump Subway Turnstiles, Even Though You’ll Save Money Doing So

07/27/2011 8:56 AM |


The NY1 anchor in this story wants to be clear: even though you would save money not ever paying MTA fares and very occasionally getting caught for it, don’t do it, because you are a member of civilization.

“I want to be a clear on this story, this should not be an option you consider, because we live in a civilized society,” intones our NY1 anchor, before explaining how beating the fare makes fiscal sense. An analysis of the subway fare enforcement statistics, according to the Daily News, reveals that fare beaters entered the system without paying fares 18.5 million times in 2009. 120,000 summonses were handed out that year. Habitual fare beaters, therefore, can expect a fine every six to 13 weeks, and even after paying those fines, the fare beater (or “scammer,” or “evader,” as NY1 also calls this vile, uncivilized dreg) could save about $60 over the course of six weeks. Last year, fare evasion cost the MTA $31 million.

Sure, jumping the turnstile isn’t the right thing to do, and the MTA needs your hard-earned bucks so it can make its frustrating and perpetual repairs, but when you hear stuff like this, and service continues to be cut as fares threaten to climb, you can’t blame a rider for contemplating cutting out on a fare.

Problems like these are rarely to be blamed on the riders themselves, despite what outlets like NY1 want you to think. They’re endemic of a greater issue: an underfunded mass transit system whose fare hikes outpace inflation. This has been harped on before, but if the money exists to wage absurdly expensive wars overseas, it exists to ensure an absolutely essential mass transit system does not have to struggle with funding year after year, punishing the people who need public trains and buses to live their lives.

Some New Yorkers would still evade a fare if it were $1.25 instead of $2.25. There would be a lot less of them, though.