Fare evaders cost the New York City Metro Transit Authority $215 million this year. The number of fare evaders is up from 2017: 1.8% of riders to 3.2% for 2018. How do they do it? Use the open emergency exit door. Enter as passengers exit via this unauthorized means. About 61 people per hour do that. Vault over the gates — gymnasts do well with jumping the turnstiles. Children slip under the turnstiles. Why do they do it? The rationalizations abound:
1. “My Metro card was not working.”
2. “I don’t feel like going all the way there (one block to a machine) to put money on my card.”
3. “Sometimes it’s easier to use the door.”
4. “I’m sad that the Metro is losing money, but I’m more sad about what’s happening to black people.”
5. “They don’t fix the lights. They are not doing what they are supposed to do.”
There is the problem with enforcement. The Manhattan district attorney’s office decided to no longer prosecute fare evaders. Metro agents faced with people whose cards are not working often tell riders to just get on through the emergency exit. The emergency door exit alarms were disabled in 2014, so riders getting off the subways use that door to exit and then leave it open, a temptation for the fare evaders. The influx at the emergency door is so great that those exiting have to go back to using the normal exits — they cannot get through.
If it’s any consolation, the evaders interviewed do not feel bad about their evasion. For further consolation, evasion is worse for buses, about 16% of riders do not pay.