In another dangerous yet vital lesson to our city's youth, it appears that crime does pay. According to an MTA study, fare beaters entered the subway 18.5 million times in 2009, an average of 50,684 times each day. If they're fined $100 every 6-13 weeks, that means the scofflaw is saving $62 based on the price of a weekly farecard. And that was in 2009 dollars! While the Daily News quotes the report as stating, "The basic street economics might explain observed evasion behaviors," we have a more succinct explanation: paying the MTA is for suckers!
Lost fares cost the MTA $31 million last year, and because they need that cash to pay their employees overtime, arrests for fare evasion are up 5.5% this year from 2010. A spokesman for the MTA says they treat "fare evasion very seriously," and that they're working with the NYPD to find "cost-effective strategies to combat it, such as targeting high-incidence locations and placing cameras in key areas."
Curiously, the MTA didn't officially release this report, and it was presented at a "transportation think tank's conference," presumably in Guam where New Yorkers would never, ever see how much money they're just throwing away on "obeying the law." But while a $100 fine may seem a pittance, one woman who was busted for fare-skipping seems to have identified the actual "cost-effective" solution to the problem: shame. "Right after I did it, three cops came out of nowhere and caught me and everyone was staring." Although come to think of it, we seem to be pretty maxed out on that emotion as it is.