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New York MTA Announces Fare Evasion Panel to Reduce Loss

The agency will create a “Fareness” panel which will analyze and recommend ways to discourage fare evasion through education, equity and enforcement to mitigate revenue loss, which is expected to reach $500 million in 2022.

(TNS) — The MTA is stepping up its efforts to combat fare evasion, with the agency expected to lose roughly $500 million in fare revenue in 2022.

On Tuesday, MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber announced the formation of a "Fareness" panel focused on analyzing and recommending new ways to discourage fare evasion through a three-pronged approach emphasizing education, equity and enforcement.

"Our New York sense of fairness and community is violated when rule-abiding, honest folks — people who tap or swipe because they know it's the right thing to do, even if it's a stretch economically — see others dodging the fare," Lieber said.

Fare and toll revenue play a crucial role in financially supporting the MTA, with the two combining to account for roughly 50 percent of the agency's operating budget.

Fare evasion has long been an issue for the MTA, but recent rises in the frequency of flouted fares could cost the agency over half a billion dollars in 2022 alone, according to agency projections.

"At current rates, fare beating is going to cost us over $500 million just this year," Lieber said. "Unless the agency is financially stable, we won't be able to do what it takes to support New York's economic comeback or to achieve our climate goals."

In recent years, the fare evasion rate on MTA subways has skyrocketed from 3 percent to over 12 percent, the agency said.

The situation is even worse on buses, where the agency estimates that roughly 33 percent of riders forego paying their fare.

And it's not just on the subways and buses where the MTA is losing out on potential revenue.

Since transitioning to cashless tolling on the agency's bridges and tunnels in 2017, the MTA has issued over 31,000 summonses to motorists using covered or obstructed license plates to avoid paying tolls.

The panel will focus on identifying ways to educate the riding public on the importance of fare payment across various platforms, stressing the crucial role that fare and toll revenue play in the agency's ability to provide high levels of service.

In terms of equity, panelists will assess new ways to ensure that the transit system is affordable and accessible for low-income New Yorkers, in part by re-evaluating the city's Fair Fares program, which grants discounted transit trips to those living below the federal poverty line, but is only used by about one-quarter of all eligible residents.

From an enforcement perspective, the panel will consider ways to deter fare evasion through civil fines while ensuring that particular groups are not disproportionately impacted by the agency's enforcement efforts.

"Fare evasion is a problem we need to solve together. That's why I am convening a panel of distinguished New Yorkers to take a deep dive into the issue. The goal is to hit the reset button on how we approach fare evasion at the MTA and across government," said Lieber.

(c)2022 Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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