Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) today announced that legislation he sponsors to raise the fines for fare evasion on New York City Transit has been passed by the Senate Transportation Committee. The legislation would allow the MTA to raise the current maximum fine for fare-evasion which is so low that it is often cheaper than paying the fare itself.
“Fare evasion is costing MTA tens of millions of dollars each year. Overburdened riders should not have to subsidize other people’s illegal free rides, especially at a time when every dollar counts. Higher fines would create a stronger deterrent and ensure that fare beaters pay the price for not paying their fair share,” said Senator Fuschillo, Chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee.
Current law allows the MTA to impose a maximum $100 fine for fare evasion, with an additional $50 penalty if the person does not pay the fine or respond to the summons. Not only are these penalties an inadequate deterrent, they actually encourage individuals to try and beat the system because the fine is often cheaper than paying the fare itself.
A report issued by the MTA’s subway division noted that 18.5 million people entered the New York City subway system without paying in 2009, an average of over 50,000 a day. These fare evasions cost the MTA over $31 million in revenue. The report estimated that a routine offender could expect to get a $100 citation once every six to 13 weeks, which is actually cheaper than purchasing six weekly metrocards.
Senator Fuschillo’s legislation (S756) would allow the MTA to raise the maximum fare evasion fine to $500. This would remove the financial incentive for trying to evade the fare. The legislation would also raise the penalty for failing to pay the fine from $50 to $100.
Senator Fuschillo worked with both the MTA and NYPD in drafting the legislation. The New York City Council also previously passed a resolution supporting Senator Fuschillo’s legislation and calling for it to be passed and signed into law.