In Fraud Crackdown, MTA Increases Lockout Time on Unlimited Cards

The pilot program is being studied at 28 high-fraud stations

Monday, May 7, 2012  |  Updated 7:45 AM EDT
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MTA Increases Lockout Time on Unlimited Cards

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The MTA has quietly increased the time that unlimited MetroCards can be swiped again in an effort to crack down on subway scammers, according to a published report.

Unlimited MetroCards have for years been locked out from a second swipe for 18 minutes after the first.

Officials have changed that time at turnstiles in 28 stations where fraud is believed to be high, the Daily News said Monday. Subway scammers with unlimited cards charge $2.25 for swipes and end up making a profit.

The MTA changed turnstiles to reject cards that had been used in the previous 36, 48 or 60 minutes

Officials believe if they increase the time, and therefore the number of cards that a scammer needs to make a profit, then that could cut down on the scam.

"We know the police are out there doing everything they can to address this problem, "MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said. "We think we can do some things internally to make this kind of fraud less financially attractive."

The Straphangers Campaign applauds the idea of making it harder for scammers to work the system, but has concerns about New Yorkers being inconvenienced by the longer times.

Gene Russianoff told the News that officials need to balance their crime-fighting "against the mobility of the rest of us, such as when we’ve forgotten something at the office and have to reenter a station."

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