The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it will add 500 additional uniformed officers to the New York City Transit system as part of a plan to improve safety across New York City's mass transit system, address the rising number of assaults on transit workers and combat the growing problem of fare evasion.
From 2013 and 2017, assaults reported by New York City Transit workers have increased by 15.2%, and lost revenue from fare evasion increased from $105 million in 2015 to $225 million in 2018. New data released today shows the upward trend is continuing with year to date totals reaching $243 million in the 12-month period ending in March 2019.
The new program also includes additional measures to deter fare evasion with enhanced exit gates and additional monitors and cameras throughout the system. As part of this plan, the New York County District Attorney will provide $40 million over four years to fund associated costs of the personnel and provide construction modifications and new video technology to target station locations.
The MTA fare evasion problem coupled with the growing reports of assaults on MTA workers has led to concern among many riders who believe there is a greater need for police presence in the subway and transit system. In 2018 there were 101 assaults against transit workers qualifying as felonies and misdemeanors. There were also 26 cases where workers were threatened and 2,318 incidents of harassment against transit workers ranging from verbal abuse to contact without injury.
Once fully implemented, the Fare Enforcement Task Force — comprised of 200 NYPD officers, 300 MTA Police Department officers and Bridge & Tunnel Officers, and 70 New York City Transit Eagle Team members — will be deployed to targeted locations with the highest levels of incidents of assault on MTA workers and the subway stations and bus routes with the highest ridership rates. The additional MTA personnel will receive training to support this effort prior to deployment.
The focused enforcement has two main objectives: to maximize fare collection and to ensure that enforcement does not target any specific demographic.
- Task Force members will deter fare evasion through their physical presence and through the issuance of Transit Adjudication Bureau summonses.
- The components of the plan focus on educating MTA riders and are not meant to be punitive or increase the number of arrests.
- The new program also includes the positioning of 100 NYCT Wayfinders near subway fare areas, enhancing select exit gates, and adding more monitors and CCTV cameras throughout the system.
- The MTA will also introduce a new, anti-fare evasion communications campaign, with signs in stations, voice messages on trains and in stations, and radio messages.
- Furthermore, the MTA Board recently approved full-fare MetroCards for New York City students, to both curb fare evasion and to ensure fairness in the student MetroCard program.
These new measures will complement the NYPD and the MTA's existing efforts to combat fare evasion, including the MTA's exit gate alarm reactivation pilot, educational outreach with New York City's Department of Education, the Criminal Justice Interagency Group, EAGLE Team deployment on Select Bus Service lines, and the EAGLE Team pilot on local buses in the Bronx and Staten Island.