An MTA police officer at Penn Station in 2022.

An MTA police officer at Penn Station in 2022. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The NYPD plans to immediately flood the subway system with 800 more police officers — in addition to a recent massive deployment of officers and National Guard troops — to stem the massive problem of fare evasion, police brass announced Monday.

Labeled “Operation Fare Play,” the latest subway initiative will have police officers — both in uniform and in plainclothes — from various commands stationed to grab evaders who try and jump turnstiles or rush through exit gates, a practice that  subway officials said costs the transit system up to nearly $300 million a year.

“Blatant evasion at the turnstiles  remains one of the primary complaints of law-abiding subway riders and the MTA,” NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said at a news conference at the 125th Street and Lenox Avenue subway station in Manhattan. “Our riders shouldn’t be subjected to open and blatant lawlessness anywhere in our subway system.”

Last year, an MTA blue-ribbon panel revealed subway fare evasion cost it $285 million in 2022, the most recent statistics available for the report.

The new force of officers will complement the hundreds of other officers already underground on the trains and in the stations as the NYPD tries to tamp down subway crime. So far, Kemper said, the effort has borne fruit, with subway crime down 15.5% in March compared with the same period in 2023.

But fare evasion has remained a persistent problem for the subways, with Kemper noting that so far, in 2024, there have been 23,000 cases of people caught evading. Most of the offenders were given a warning or issued civil summonses, but more than 1,700 were arrested because they had open arrest warrants or carried weapons into the system.

“This is not a one-week deal,” said NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell when asked how long the officers will be deployed. Chell said that the exact location of the expanded police presence will be kept confidential to keep criminals off guard.

It was unclear what the overtime costs of the program would be. During a City Council budget hearing last week, NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban and other NYPD officials noted that overtime costs had gone over $600 million this year.

The push for more cops in Operation Fare Play comes on top of about 1,000 officers pressed into service underground in recent weeks, as well as hundreds of state National Guard soldiers stationed in the subway stations by order of Gov. Kathy Hochul to curb criminal activity.

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