New York City, NY

Opinion: Remind Me Why I Bother Paying the Fare

Remington Write

I'm still paying to ride the bus. Go figure.
Bathroom signage at the now-defunct Green Kitchen /Photo byTammy Remington

Let’s start out with this: there have been people not paying the fare on New York City buses and subways since forever. This is not new.

What's new is how many people are doing it now.

You, members of the MTA board, you have some splainin’ to do.

I’d like to draw the board’s attention to the fact that every day that I am riding an MTA bus (which, btw, is every day) I see multiple people just get on the bus and walk past the farebox. It’s quite routine. They don’t even pause. They don’t look around furtively. Some of them walk into the open back door but plenty of people just boldly walk right into the front of the bus and have a seat without paying the fare. We’ll leave aside the fact that this has been going on for well over a year and certainly during the period of time when every damned bus in this city sported gigantic signs stating MASKS REQUIRED (next you’ll be trying to tell us that paying the fare is also required, heh).

And for anyone wondering, folks who don't pay the fare also didn't wear masks.

Excuse me, board members (aka privileged people who only ride public transit for photo ops), you need to explain to the fewer and fewer of us paying our fares why we should bother. It's not as if the service is improving or the stations are actually being cleaned or anything radical like that.

Clearly, there are no consequences for the roughly 29% of MTA passengers who are getting to ride for free. Oh, sure, Daddy Eric says he’s serious about cracking down on fare-jumping. Not seeing it, Pops. Want to know what I am seeing? I am seeing New York’s *ahem* finest diddling around on their smartphones while agile fare-jumpers hop over the turnstiles in the subway. I am seeing people casually smoking on buses and subways.
It's a tough job, etc., etc., etc. /Photo byTammy Remington

I am not seeing much of anything being done about these “quality of life” issues. Sure, there’s a lot of pearl-clutching going on in the media, but even with added police on subway platforms, the turnstiles are still basically gymnastics equipment to be leaped over by countless (young) people who can't be bothered to pay the fare.

Oh, yes, and what’s this about the board clearing its throat and considering a fare increase? Really? You think that’s going to get us back on your filthy subway cars? You think that’s going to have us packing the buses?

Apparently, the brilliant plan to hire unarmed guards to stop fare-jumping in the subway fell apart when the hired goons beat the snot out of one scofflaw. Oops. Seriously bad optics there, MTA.

This is the best you can come up with? How much did you pay your consultants to come up with that one?

I’m all ears here. Tell me again why anyone watching the constant fare-jumping should bother being the schmuck who pays the fare?


What a surprise.

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Covert dilettante with an omnivorous capacity for wonder. Writing because I can't not write. Always watching for the hidden patterns and connections. I don't know I cannot fly..........and so I do.

New York City, NY

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