The MTA has introduced a specialized team of officers with the aim of addressing the issue of bus fare evasion.
This move comes as the MTA reports a significant loss of $315 million due to fare evasion on buses in the previous year alone.
According to the reports, notably, buses have emerged as the primary source of this problem for the MTA.
“These dedicated teams will be stationed both on buses and at bus stops, enhancing their ability to curb fare evasion effectively,” MTA said.
Termed EAGLE teams, which stands for Evasion and Graffiti Lawlessness Eradication, these uniformed and unarmed MTA officers are set to work in collaboration with the NYPD.
NYC Transit President Rich Davey pointed out, “We estimate 30 to 35% of our bus customers are getting off free every day; which means 66% of New Yorkers who are paying their fare are getting a raw deal.”
Recognizing the link between fare evasion and other criminal activities, the NYPD’s involvement is deemed crucial. Safety Director of TWU Local 100, John Chiarello, emphasized the issue of assaults on transit staff, highlighting the connection between fare evasion and such incidents.
With ridership on the rise and the MTA’s financial performance stable, the organization aims to swiftly address this concern.
Janno Lieber, MTA Chairman, stressed the importance of utilizing the lost funds for improving transit services, rather than allowing them to go to waste.
The MTA is keen on ensuring that fare evasion is not seen as a crime driven by poverty.
To this end, low-income New Yorkers have the option of obtaining half-off fare cards. Collaborating with the Department of Social Services, the MTA intends to maintain fair and accessible transportation for all members of the community.