MTA announces new fare evasion panel as agency predicts $500 million annual revenue loss

STATEN ISLAND, NY — The MTA is stepping up its efforts to combat fare evasion, with the agency expected to lose an estimated $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 emphasis on education, equity and application.

“Our sense of fairness and community in New York is violated when honest, rule-abiding people – people who tap or swipe because they know it’s the right thing to do, even if it’s is economically exaggerated – see others dodging the tariff,” says Lieber.

Revenue from fares and tolls play a crucial role in sustaining the MTA’s financial support, with the two combining to make up approximately 50% of the agency’s operating budget.

Fare evasion has long been a problem for the MTA, but the recent increase in the frequency of flouted fares could cost the agency more than half a billion dollars in 2022 alone, according to projections from the MTA. agency.

“At current rates, the higher tariffs are going to cost us over $500 million this year alone,” 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 meet our climate goals.

In recent years, the rate of fare evasion on MTA subways has risen from 3% to more than 12%, the agency said.

The situation is even worse on buses, where the agency estimates that around 33% of users give up paying for their journey.

And it’s not just in subways and buses that the MTA is losing potential revenue.

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

The panel will focus on identifying ways to educate the constituency public about the importance of paying fares on various platforms, highlighting the crucial role fares and tolls revenue plays in the ability to the agency to provide high levels of service.

In terms of fairness, panelists will assess new ways to ensure the public transit system is affordable and accessible to low-income New Yorkers, in part by reassessing the city’s Fair Fares program, which grants rides by discounted public transit to those living below the federal threshold. poverty line, but is only used by about a quarter of all eligible residents.

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

“Fare evasion is a problem that we must solve together. That’s why I’m convening a panel of prominent New Yorkers to delve into the matter. The goal is to press the reset button on how we approach fare evasion at the MTA and across government,” Lieber said.

Julio V. Miller