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Governor Hochul advocates stricter measures to combat fare evasion

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Fare payments at the Sutphin Blvd–Archer Ave–JFK Airport Station have surged by 20% following the installation of new faregates in December, as reported by transit officials. Despite the apparent success, recent viral videos depicting gate manipulation highlight an ongoing challenge with fare evasion.

In response to escalating costs, the MTA deployed police officers on Wednesday morning to deter fare beating, recognizing that fare and toll evasion amounted to nearly $700 million in losses for the agency in 2022. Addressing this issue, Governor Kathy Hochul, in her 2025 state budget proposal, expresses support for a comprehensive overhaul in handling fare evasion cases.

Currently, fare evaders face a flat $100 fine, irrespective of the number of offenses. Hochul’s proposed plan introduces a warning for first-time offenders, a $100 fine for the second offense, with half of the amount allocated towards providing an OMNY card to encourage compliance. Subsequent offenses incur fines of $150 and $200 for the third and fourth instances, respectively. A fifth offense would lead to a criminal charge for theft of service.

Commuters like Sanu Jaitley express support for the initiative, emphasizing the importance of paying fares to sustain the transportation system. However, criticism arises from individuals like Kay White Paniagua, questioning the wisdom of providing incentives for repeated offenses.

Notably, the plan includes a provision allowing fare evaders to have charges dismissed by enrolling in the MTA’s Fair Fare program, designed to offer reduced fares for individuals meeting specific income criteria. This multifaceted approach aims to address fare evasion while providing avenues for those facing financial hardships to access public transportation affordably.

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