Opinion | How to Stop Subway Fare Beaters

To the Editor:

In “Caught in Act, Evaders of Fare ‘Don’t Feel Bad’” (front page, Dec. 25), we are introduced to several subway fare evaders who were made to feel “unhappy” or whose mood was ruined when issued summonses.

There is an utter disconnect between their actions and responsibilities. The cavalierly offered rationales mean nothing and don’t change anything. Yes, there are many of us who experience problems while commuting and wish that the system functioned well, but breaking the law is not an answer; it only worsens the existing problems.

Many of those who refuse to pay fares simply do so because it is too easy to do, period. Transit systems in other countries use methods of thwarting fare evasion that are effective, yet respectful. One major problem is that subway turnstiles, while nice-looking, are poorly designed for controlling access. Our current situation is, to no small degree, a product of design flaw.

Burt Bloom

To the Editor:

When someone vaults over a subway turnstile, or boards a bus through a rear door, it’s generally not a maiden voyage. And when the police redirect their attention away from fare evasion, it sends a clear message that this form of crime (theft) is inconsequential. So no one should look the least bit shocked when fare evasion rockets from 1.8 percent to 3.2 percent of all riders. What to do?

Fare evasion should be policed like anything else, but maybe getting caught and paying a fine does not act as a deterrent. What may have an impact is the introduction of mandatory community service. Of course this would have to be packaged and sold in a way that did not discriminate, or allow labor unions to claim that community service was taking jobs away from others, and would be an option only where it made sense.

Having to sweep a street or clean a classroom would make the fare evader think twice.

The bottom line is not to de-emphasize the crime and to be more creative in how punishment is distributed.

E. Bernard McGlynn Jr.
Summit, N.J.

To the Editor:

Some of the fare-beating charges are false. I have often been at a turnstile that keeps asking me to reswipe my MetroCard. After five or six failures to read the card, I try another turnstile, only to be told that the card was just used. Then, I crawl under the turnstile.

How many of the “fare beaters” are like me, frustrated by the failure to read the swiped card?

Eileen Moran
Bayside, Queens

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