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OpinionEditorial

Lost fare revenue is the ride target

LIRR conductor Anthony Massa punches tickets on an

LIRR conductor Anthony Massa punches tickets on an eastbound train on the Babylon branch on March 29. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Fare evasion remains a significant problem in New York. For the Long Island Rail Road, it amounts to about $20 million in lost revenue a year. There aren’t turnstiles to jump or gates to open, like there are on the New York City subways. The LIRR is working to prevent fraud by adding credit-card chip readers, which, combined with finding ways to stop scammers, will help. But the bigger problem is that crowded trains make it tough for conductors to collect tickets. So, adding cars and continuing to find ways to deploy conductors more efficiently, would reduce the lost revenue from uncollected fares.

But in New York City, the problem requires more significant solutions. Most often, someone tries to get a free ride, seeing an open gate and slipping through. But sometimes, it’s a mother who uses the last of her cash to buy lunch for her child.

Subway fare evasion cost $243 million in lost revenue in the 12 months ending in March, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, MTA chief executive Pat Foye, and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance are right to focus on deterrence, not prosecution. Their plan will add 500 NYPD and MTA police officers and seek ways to improve subway gates and turnstiles. But the plan will work best if officers are trained to focus on prevention. And state and city officials also should develop better data on who evades fares and make sure reduced-fare MetroCards get to those who need them.

Clearly, there’s more to do. 

— The editorial board

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