Better late than never: NYC Subway chief says he wants to redesign the iconic turnstiles and emergency exit gates to stop the system from becoming a ‘superhighway’ for deadbeats
- Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Janno Lieber said New York City’s subway turnstiles need to be redesigned to deter fare dodging
- Lieber said he particularly wants to redesign the emergency exit gates, which he characterized as a ‘superhighway for fare evasion’
- Lieber announced his plans during a meeting on Monday which was focused on the state of the subway system after the pandemic
- He also discussed other measures the subway has taken to curb fare evasion, which included the posting of armed security guards throughout the subway
- Lieber’s comments come after the MTA announced in May it was on track to lose $500million from fare evasions this year
New York City’s subway chief said he wants to redesign the system’s turnstiles in an effort to curb rampant fare dodging.
Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Janno Lieber said he particularly wants to address the emergency exit gate, which he characterized as a ‘superhighway for fare evasion.’
Lieber announced his plans during a meeting hosted by the Manhattan Institute – a policy think-tank – which was focused on the state of the subway system after the pandemic.
At the meeting, Lieber also discussed other measures the subway has taken to curb fare evasion, which included the posting of armed security guards and NYPD officers throughout the transit system.
Lieber’s comments come after the MTA announced in May that it was on track to lose $500million in from fare evasions this year.
Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Janno Lieber (right) and New York Governor Kathy Hochul (left) announce subway safety initiatives in New York City in October
People jump a subway turnstile in New York City to avoid paying their fare. The MTA wants to crack down and redesign the turnstiles
‘We have to change the physical turnstile,’ Lieber said, explaining that the measure was necessary for stemming the MTA’s losses.
He also said redesigning the emergency exit gates – large door-like passages which fare-dodgers can often pass freely through – was critical.
‘The exit gate – which is nominally supposed to be for fire, exiting purposes, to comply with the fire code – has become the superhighway for fare evasion,’ Lieber said.
Lieber also explained that in the past six months the MTA has tested out posting guards in the subway station entrances to keep an eye on subway dodgers.
He said armed guards have been posted to prevent vandalism of ticket vending machines, and unarmed guards have been posted at the emergency gates to prevent abuse.
It is unclear how effective those measures have been.
Subway riders at a turnstile in New York City. Lieber has said the emergency exits especially need to be redesigned to prevent dodging
New York Governor Kathy Hochul set up a panel to explore solutions to fare dodgers. The panel has not yet released its findings
In response to the MTA’s May report of its fare problem, New York Governor Kathy Hochul set up a panel to explore solutions to the problem. Though the subway system is owned by New York City, it is leased to and run by the MTA, a state-run agency.
The panel has not released any findings yet, but an MTA spokesperson said it is likely turnstile redesigns will be proposed, according to the New York Post.
At the meeting Monday, Lieber also said the MTA was working with prosecutors on fare enforcement, but that policy needed to be unified across multiple counties.
‘We are working with DAs on this. We want to have a consensus fare evasion enforcement policy,’ he said. ‘There’s no secret there’s ideological range in some of our New York City and suburban DAs.’
MTA CEO Janno Lieber speaks at the Fulton Street station in New York City in February
A man leaps over a Subway turnstile in New York City, a problem which has cost the city millions
Fare dodgers made up 29.3 percent of the MTA bus riders between July and September, according to the Post. That was a slight increase from 29.1 percent over the beginning of the year.
Dodgers on make up at least 13.4 percent of the riders on the subway, according to a recent poll. That was an increase from 9.8 percent at the end of last year, according to the Post.
Lieber has previously blamed fare dodgers for the crime which takes place on the transit system.
‘Fare evasion tears at our social fabric,’ he said in April. ‘People who commit robberies and violent crimes generally don’t bother with MetroCard swipes or OMNY taps.’