Southern Brooklyn

MTA Expands Crackdown On Bus Fare Dodgers

Source: MTA

The MTA is increasing efforts to catch fare beaters on city buses, which it estimates cost the city tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Since 2008, the “Eagle Team” has patrolled the budding Select Bus Service fleet to fight fare cheaters, a new form of express bus service that has off-board fare collection, which critics say has spurred on fare beaters. Now, the team of approximately 60 ex-police officers and military veterans will double in size as they prepare to patrol regular city buses. The group members coordinate with police and have the power to issue $100 summonses.

Thomas Prendergast, the head of the MTA’s transit division, explained that the Eagle Team will cost $6 million to deploy, and they will be “chasing $50 million” in revenue lost to fare beaters.

In 2010 the MTA estimated it lost $14 million in would-be fare, but admit that the statistic is hard to track. Drivers are instructed to press a button when someone enters without paying.

The Eagle Team is deployed with a mission to balance customer service with enforcement, said Vincent DeMarino, the transit division’s vice president of security.

“Just the way the police, I’m sure, want people to always wonder is there a cop on every corner, we want them to wonder if one of us is on every bus,” said Vincent DeMarino, the transit division’s vice president of security.

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  1. I’m shocked to hear that people would get on the bus in the back and not pay their fare.  Shocked I tell you.

    They have lost $14M.  What did they think was going to happen?

  2. I see it happen all the time.  It usually happens when school kids get out of school.  They would get on from the back door and while that is happening, some adults would also hop on at the same time from the back door.  With so many kids getting on, it’s easy for the bus driver to not notice.

    Even if the bus driver does scream at the kids, the kids don’t care.  They just don’t care.  Sure some of them do actually have a metro card that they got from school, but the ones who use the back door to get on don’t have enough respect to actually wait on line like the rest of us.  It’s a shame really.  Even the adults do it sometimes.

    Another time I see it happening is when the bus is already overcrowded and some just want to get in from the back door since everyone won’t move to the back.  That’s the only exception when I kinda agree with them getting in from the back.  

  3. $14 million was the old estimate from 2010.  The revised estimate is $50 million with some thinking it could even be over $100 million annually.

  4. During the school year, the B3 is a victim of kids coming in thru the rear doors at Sheepshead Bay Rd. But, I bet they are coming off the subway and entitled to a free transfer, so I wonder if this counts in the Transit Authority’s fare beat estimates?

  5. It annoys me no end that this “Eagle Team” is still mainly dedicated to the Select Buses and not the ones we usually ride, and which the drivers of need some backup. Just because Select Buses don’t collect fares, and passengers are rarely checked, doesn’t mean the majority of farebeaters are using them.

    It’s not just the kids that do it either. I was on a B9 to Kings Plz after sundown (already asking for trouble there) and three thugs between the ages of 30-40, not teens, got on and stared the driver down as they walked past without paying their fares. Their conversation was loud and riddled with racial epithets about white and asian people. Everyone kept their heads down until they got off.

    That called for someone in law enforcement to act, but none were present, and the driver, whom I spoke with, said it wasn’t worth his life to say a word.

    I couldn’t blame him.

  6. […] The machines are a key feature to the new service, allowing for off-board fare collection that MTA officials say save time on the bus. Riders are expected to pay their fares at the machine before boarding, and are given a receipt. The system is largely an honor system, with occasional inspectors serving hefty fines to fare dodgers if caught. […]


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