|MTA going to great lengths in stopping subway scammers...from 18 mins to 1 hour (1155127)|
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MTA going to great lengths in stopping subway scammers...from 18 mins to 1 hour
Posted by Gold_12TH on Mon May 7 15:21:28 2012The MTA is again taking aim at subway scammers who siphon millions of dollars from the system each year.
In a secret pilot program, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last month modified turnstiles to reject any MetroCard repeatedly being swiped in the same station.
Even a rabid bicyclist like MTA board member Andrew Saul knows knows how the discount-offering thieves operate.
Using unlimited-ride MetroCards, they get riders through turnstiles for less than the $2.25 base fare.
They get arrested from time to time, get their wrists slapped by judges and go right back to work.
The scammers commonly gin up business by vandalizing MetroCard vending machines. Riders who ordinarily would avoid such skells wind up putting a buck or two in their palms when they can’t legally buy a card.
It’s better than hiking off to find a token booth actually staffed with a human who could help them.
In the test program, the MTA targeted 28 stations where MetroCard records indicate high rates of fraud. Turnstiles were tweaked to reject a time-based card that had been used in the same station in the previous 36, 48 or 60 minutes.
For decades, the lockout time has been 18 minutes, but that’s easily skirted by rotating through a series of cards.
The MTA’s theory: increase the lockout time and a scammer needs more MetroCards to make the investment in time or money worth it.
“We know the police are out there doing everything they can to address this problem,” MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said. “We think we can do some things internally to make this kind of fraud less financially attractive.”
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign has some concerns about the plan.
“It’s OK to make things harder for illegal swipers with longer blackout periods,” he said.
“But transit officials have got to balance that against the mobility of the rest of us, such as when we’ve forgotten something at the office and have to reenter a station.
“We are New Yorkers and we are always in a hurry.”
If the MTA does extend the MetroCard lockout, it will be the latest in a long list of anti-fraud maneuvers.
It has modified turnstiles at least twice to reject expended MetroCards that scammers bent a certain way to provide one more ride.
It put magnets inside MetroCard receptacles to erase data on discarded MetroCards so they couldn’t be manipulated to give up additional trips. It even equipped MetroCard vending machines with surveillance cameras, which will come in handy when the next scam emerges.