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MTA needs to stop losing millions from fare beaters: Pol

Posted by Gold_12TH on Wed Jun 20 01:14:38 2012

A city councilwoman and an MTA board member are calling for a crackdown on bus fare beaters they sayare stripping the cash-strapped MTA of precious dollars.

City Council Member Debi Rose and MTA board member Allen Cappelli want undercover cops to ride city buses and arrest people that don't pay the $2.25 fare. A similar program is under way on Staten Island as an informal poll by the Staten Island Advance showed that nearly 20% of riders don't pay when they get on a bus. Rose and Cappelli said the officers would also keep bus passengers and drivers safer, and help combat increasing thefts of pricey electronics.

"It's not just a Staten Island problem, it's a problem that plagues us throughout the city," said Cappelli. "The cumulative consequence of the crime is that tens of millions of dollars -- if not a hundred millions dollars or more -- in revenue, is missing from the MTA, which has precipitated a cut in services."

"If we had that additional revenue, then many of those cuts may not have taken place," he added of massive service cuts made in 2010, including the elimination of two subway lines and dozens of bus routes.

"If we had that additional revenue, then many of those cuts may not have taken place," he added of massive service cuts made in 2010, including the elimination of two subway lines and dozens of bus routes.

The MTA would not comment Tuesday on how much agency has lost from people beating fares, but a spokesman had previously told amNewYork that the agency "estimated a loss of about $31 million due to fare evasion," including in both subways and buses, in 2010 alone.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the agency is looking at the effectiveness of the program on Staten Island.

"We'll work with the district attorneys and NYPD to examine the potential to expand that enforcement citywide," he said.

An NYPD spokeswoman would not comment on the proposal yesterday.

Rose, who is pushing for in increase police presence on buses throughout the city, said reducing the number of deadbeat riders will help the agency fill its coffers. The MTA has $32 billion in long-term debt.

"With the loss of revenue, the MTA has decided to raise the fares and the tolls with a resulting decrease in services," Rose (D-Staten Island) told amNewYork Tuesday. "I don't know if it would be enough for them to restore services, but it might be enough to hold off on increasing fares."

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said an increased police presence "sends a really important signal that paying your fare is expected."

The Transport Workers Union backed the idea, saying it would be cost-effective for the MTA and keep its members safe.

"Fare beating disputes cause the majority of assaults on our bus operators, and it is a growing problem in the subways with the removal of so many Station Agents from the token booths," said TWU spokesman Jim Gannon. "A solution is simple: More plain clothes cops on the buses, and a return of the station agents. The added cost would pay for itself."

Freeloading bus riders cost MTA a fare-ly outrageous $50 million

Agency ups loss from $14 million estimate because of new tracking methods and lax enforcement, sources say

THE MTA LOSES about $50 million in revenue each year to bus farebeaters — more than triple what it previously estimated, the Daily News has learned.

The staggering figure is partly the result of a new way the authority calculates fare-dodging, but also indicates that the longstanding problem has worsened because of lax enforcement, sources said.

The authority previously had estimated that bus farebeaters were stealing $14 million worth of free rides annually.

Gauging bus freeloading levels has been an inexact science. Drivers are supposed to keep tallies by pushing a button every time someone boards without paying. The authority also has used video to estimate the frequency of bus farebeating.

“This is situation we have to get under control,” MTA board member Allen Cappelli said. “Not only is it a significant amount of revenue, but you’re allowing people to behave in a lawless manner.”

Cappelli and Councilwoman Debi Rose called on the NYPD to increase enforcement citywide. Police in Staten Island in recent weeks have placed undercover officers on buses in a pilot program launched in conjunction with the Staten Island district attorney’s office, Cappelli and Rose said.

The MTA, meanwhile, said it will draft a comprehensive and citywide plan to deter fare evasion on buses.

One possibility would be to persuade the NYPD to increase enforcement, transit sources said.

Another option would be to expand the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s own “Eagle Team,” sources said. The team of inspectors is largely comprised of retired NYPD officers and former members of the military. It does spot-check enforcement and issues tickets on just three Select Bus Service routes where riders pay at curbside machines.

A third option, deploying MTA Police Department officers to some bus routes, also has come up in some internal MTA discussions. Sources said such a deployment was seen as the least likely move.

On average, there are more than 2 million paying bus riders on weekdays. In 2010, the police ticketed or arrested just 1,324 bus farebeaters in the city.

Bus drivers are instructed to avoid confronting farebeaters for their own safety.

The MTA in the past has pegged the B46 in Brooklyn as the worst for fare evasion, followed by the Bx36, the Bx41, the Bx15, B44 and the Bx19.

---- http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/freeloading-bus-riders-cost-mta-a-fare-ly-outrageous-50-million-article-1.1098866#ixzz1yJ7v2GEE


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