Undercover inspectors and uniformed officers nabbed more than a dozen bus fare beaters Monday -- the first day of the MTA's renewed efforts to crack down on the freeloaders who cost the cash-strapped agency more than $50 million a year in lost revenue, according to a report.
Teams of retired police officers and ex-military members flocked to bus stops and hitched rides along the city's most notorious fare-beating routes to make sure riders paid the fee before taking a seat. Previously, the MTA had only sent enforcers to select bus routes, but rough fiscal times have made plugging any financial leaks an even greater priority.
"The goal is not to catch people fare-beating," NYC Transit division security director Vincent DeMarino told the Daily News. "The goal is to get people to pay the fare, get them to think, 'You know what? I'd better pay the fare,' because they might get a summons."
The fine for getting caught trying to avoid an MTA fare is $100. The price for a single bus ride is $2.50. The MTA's third fare hike in three years went into effect on Friday, increasing costs per ride by 25 cents. Tolls on MTA bridges and tunnels also went up.
City bus riders had mixed sentiments about the MTA's latest crackdown on fare beaters. Some paying customers were gratified the agency was doing something to prevent abuse of the system. Others felt sorry for those who were caught, pointing out that if they didn't have the $2.50 to ride the bus in the first place, they probably couldn't come up with $100 to pay the fine.
One 13-year-old girl told the News she was just shocked to see enforcers in action.
"I've never seen anyone out here," Dossou Kone told the paper.