|Fare-cheaters cost MTA $14 MILLION a year; worst offenders are on Bx19 (261177)|
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Fare-cheaters cost MTA $14 MILLION a year; worst offenders are on Bx19
Posted by Gold_12TH on Sun May 27 13:01:27 2012
MetroCards? We don’t need no stinking MetroCards!
That’s the code of the road for fare beaters on the Bx19, the bus route with the most cheats in the city, according to drivers and advocates.
“It is a major problem on this line,” said Joseph, a driver who estimates one-third of his passengers ride free. “It’s a regular thing.”
The Bx19 runs between the New York Botanical Garden in The Bronx and 145th Street in Harlem, mostly along Southern Boulevard and 149th Street.
Scofflaws who ride it practically beamed with pride when confronted by The Post.
One woman who breezed through a back door said getting over is just too easy.
“It’s very convenient,” she said. “Now they make buses with three doors.”
The brazen Bronxite then ran through a litany of complaints in an attempt to justify her fare skipping: bedbugs, garbage, high fares and handicapped people who slow them down.
“Wheelchair people got to go,” she said. “They need their own bus.”
Kendra Ellis, a legal commuter from Harlem, wasn’t buying the excuses.
“It’s totally annoying,” she said. “I paid my fare, fair and square. Pay your fare — $2.25. If you don’t have it, don’t get on.”
Riding at night is the worst, said Gregory Jamal, 40.
“After 10 o’clock, forget it. They’re not going to pay unless there’s a cop on the bus, which there never is,” he said.
And forget about saying something.
“You don’t think that guy won’t confront the driver?” he said of a freeloader. “It’s to [the driver’s] benefit to just drive.”
And that’s exactly the way the perpetually cash-strapped MTA — which loses at least $14 million a year to bus-fare beaters — wants it.
The agency says its drivers are “supposed to advise the customer to pay the fare,” but spokesman Charles Seaton said MTA guidelines also say they should “make no physical contact and make no demand.”
MTA policy doesn’t require or encourage drivers to call the cops, either.
Joseph, the Bx19 driver, said the rules are a Catch-22.
“If you have no teeth — no enforcement — people are going to do whatever they want,” he said. “If management really wanted to manage this situation, they’d call the police.”
The MTA has reviewed fare beating in the past and is now conducting a more comprehensive audit, said agency spokesman Adam Lisberg.
The most recent review showed bus riders took about 6.2 million free trips a year, costing the MTA about $14 million.