The MTA spent close to $1 billion in recent years to give 19 subway stations a new look — but a design flaw virtually left the doors open to farebeaters.
Now, new easily entered emergency gates are set to be overhauled as part of a $40 million effort to crack down on fare evaders, officials said Monday.
“They could have just constructed this properly the first time around,” said Ikenna Iteogu, 23, who was catching a 6 train at the newly renovated 28th Street station. “The shorter gates made no sense at all from the first time I saw them.”
The redesign of some subway station entrances was among the changes announced Monday by Governor Andrew Cuomo, MTA Chair Pat Foye and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, as the transit agency said it’s missed out on nearly $250 million in the last year because of a farebeating spike on buses and subways.
“You just increased the fare on riders, and people are exploiting it by not paying the fare at all,” Cuomo said. “That has to end.”
The governor said the MTA will reassign to the subway 300 of its own officers — who usually patrol the commuter railroads and bridges and tunnels — and 200 more coming from the NYPD. The cops will be stationed at 100 “fare evasion hotspots,” split between 50 subway stations and bus routes.
“They will be reducing fare evasion and protecting MTA workers from assault,” Cuomo said. “So it achieves many of our goals and I think it will make a significant difference and address issues that have been growing for a prolonged period of time.”
Neither Mayor Bill de Blasio nor Police Commissioner James O’Neill were present at the news conference Monday in Cuomo’s midtown office.
So far this year, the NYPD has flagged 38,360 people for allegedly trying to beat the fare — most of whom received summonses, the department said in an emailed statement on Monday. That’s a 68% increase from the same time period last year, when 22,840 people were caught for alleged fare evasion.
At the same time, Vance said his office has cut farebeating prosecutions by 96%.
An Easy In
Vance said $40 million in criminal forfeiture funds from his office will be used to install more cameras and monitors — and create another new look for station emergency gates.
Unlike the emergency doors in most stations, the newer models are partially open on top — allowing even someone of average height to reach over and push the bar.
“There is an ability for some riders to be able to manipulate them,” Foye conceded.
“The gates that have not been closely monitored are going to be redesigned so that those gates don’t act as a funnel for people inside and out of the subway,” Vance said.
TransitCenter, a commuter advocacy organization, said the planned door makeover is a “case of better late than never.”
“For a long time, other agencies have had a better gate design than the MTA,” said Ben Fried, TransitCenter spokesperson. “The agency should quickly adopt proven best practices instead of dragging its feet for years.”
Riders said the openings provided by the shorter emergency gates should have been considered before the renovations.
“You see it all the time — if you’re in a spot where there’s no workers around, people are absolutely going to put their arm over that gate and go inside,” said Andreas Jovovich, 23, who was commuting from the 28th Street station on the Number 6 line. “It’s human nature.”
“The stations look nice, they’ve got a more modern look,” said Kiamesha Scott, 34. “But for people to get through, it’s easy.”
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