The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's struggle to close its $750 million budget gap has not been made any easier with bus riders evading the fare, causing New York City to lose $8 million a year, an transit report said.
The approximate 6.7 million people who avoid paying the $2.25 ride either enter through the back of the bus or sneak past the bus driver. Every time this occurred, bus drivers click a counter, which happened 18,000 times a day in 2008, transit officials said.
Very few riders were actually caught for jumping the fare, according to the Daily News. The NYPD issued just 101 tickets and arrested just 67 bus fare-beaters in all of 2008, the newspaper said, citing NYPD data.
NBCNewYork has requested the NYPD data on the arrests and is awaiting a response.
"You have better odds winning Lotto than you do for getting caught by the NYPD for evading the fare on a bus," Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign told the News. "This lack of enforcement by city police costs the MTA millions of dollars, money the MTA could use badly to meet a crippling deficit."
News of bus-fare beaters comes just days after another MTA analysis found that subway fare-skippers are costing the transit authority $27 million a year, and not the $7 million that was previously estimated.
"We [New York City Transit] are working closely with the NYPD to combat this problem," New York City Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said. "We consider this a serious issue and we are working on it."