Offering Free MTA Bus Rides: Enabling Criminal Behavior?

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Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris is championing a permanent $45 million fare-free MTA bus program in Albany – a move that some see as giving in to lawlessness.

MTA statistics reveal that fare evasion on buses and subways is on the rise, along with disorder in the transit system.

Fare evasion now costs the MTA $690 million annually; the act has become so common on city buses that many routes are essentially free already.

Contrary to popular belief, paying the $2.90 fare to cross the city is not expensive; avoiding the fare is not a “crime of poverty,” but rather a display of arrogant disrespect towards others.

Paying the fare is crucial for maintaining basic order – it symbolizes a commitment to the social contract.

Over the years, data has shown that fare evasion arrests help in apprehending illegal gun possessors and other criminals, ultimately reducing overall crime rates.

Perhaps this is why Gianaris (D-Queens) is advocating for the expansion of the $15 million taxpayer-funded fare-free program that has been operating on five MTA routes (one in each borough) since last September: he seems to be so supportive of criminal activities that he wants to abolish a proven method of removing offenders from the streets.  

Considering the increasing occurrences of criminal behavior in the transit system, now is not the time to give up.

If legislators aim to provide more funding for the MTA, it should not be to encourage fare evasion, but rather to combat it.

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