MTA Chairman Janno Lieber says he has “countless” footage of latte drinkers evading fares.
Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
The martini may be back, but underground, it’s still all about the latte. In the a yesterday’s breakfast, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said the agency hopes to once again crack down on fare evasion, especially among people it knows can pay because it’s seen them holding a cup of coffee. “We have countless images of people in designer clothes, carrying $7 milk bills, walking through the emergency doors on Wall Street or the Upper East Side,” he said. “Obviously it hits us at the price box, but just as importantly, I’d say, fare evasion tears at our social fabric.”
Lieber said fare evasion had become an “epidemic” and noted that an eighth of all subway riders and up to a third of all bus riders currently do not pay. They’ve just blown, all high on espresso and steamed milk. That, he said, will cost the agency about $500 million this year. It will also apparently destroy society: “Our New York sense of fairness and community 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 a stretch economic… see others dodging the tariff”.
The MTA has convened a court of board members, transportation advocates and community leaders (non-baristas?) to brainstorm changes. But the last time the MTA tried to crack down on fare evasion, in 2019, it failed. An audit shown that the MTA, as well as other US transit agencies, do not keep data accurate enough to illustrate the extent of the problem. They also noted that the things that make subways and buses efficient and accessible — emergency doors, multiple bus entrances — are also what make it easy to escape without paying. Asking drivers to stop the bus every time they suspect someone hasn’t paid is a recipe for disaster. People would spill their coffee!