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Fare evasion increasing, could worsen with end of student discounts

Fare beating is on the rise, and the elimination of discounted student fares will make it worse, MTA board members predict.

The closing of booths in 100 stations earlier this year has driven up fare evasion, especially at entrances without high turnstiles, said Andrew Albert, a MTA board member.

“I’ve watched people go through them with impunity in the last few weeks,” Albert said.

Fare evasion arrests are up 17 percent this year, with police giving out an eye-popping 42,000 summonses and arresting 18,000 offenders, Transit Bureau chief James Hall said Monday.

Police have been patrolling unmanned subway entrances, but are hampered by limited resources and the need to respond to more serious crimes, he said.

The problem will likely worsen if the MTA makes thousands of students start paying for the 525,000 MetroCards that transport them to school for free or half cost, officials said.

“The mayor should pay for all the students’ MetroCards, we all know he can afford it,” said Rashanda Hasan, 36, a Bronx rider.

Under the plan, students would pay half fares beginning next September and the full fare in 2011, saving the MTA $170 million a year when fully implemented. The city’s three MTA board members are likely to vote against the cut, but more votes are needed to shoot it down.

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