Fare cheating pays off for New Yorkers

Fare evasion apparently pays for New York City subway riders, according to a report from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NY). The New York Daily News reports that passengers entered the subway 18.5 million times without paying in 2009 — and police issued just 120,000 tickets. This means that scofflaws can expect to get caught once every 6-13 weeks, and the occasional $100 fine is cheaper than buying a $29 weekly MetroCard for the same period. The report, which the MTA says is not an official document, recommends raising the fine for fare evasion. “This basic street economics might explain observed evasion behaviors,” the authors of the report wrote. “Higher fines or arrests may have better deterrent effects.” Fare evasion cost the MTA $31 million last year. In a related story, Freakonomics suggests that $174 makes sense based on frequency of fare evasion and rate of enforcement. And there is precedent: Last week TriMet announced a $175 fine for fare evasion. Link to full story in New York Daily News.

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