Good on the MTA for experimenting with new entry-gate designs aimed at discouraging farebeater, but the actual solution is all about law enforcement — and restoring law-abiding expectations.
That is, restoring the city’s social fabric after progressives eroded it.
Criminal justice “reform” — that is, retreat — has sent fare beatings skyrocketing, costing the MTA over $700 million in 2022 and perhaps more in 2023.
It’s difficult to condemn the MTA for doing everything possible to stem the tremendous losses caused by this heinous kind of theft on the agency’s already-troubled finances.
However, fare beating is not the result of technocratic problems, and it necessitates far more significant measures than new subway doors.
Fare beating, as agency head Janno Lieber put it to The Washington Post, “tears at the social fabric.”
Not only does it effectively take from public coffers (and any robbery from a public agency is, above all, a theft from New York’s poorest residents).
It also means that more and more dangerous persons end themselves in the transit system.
People who fare beat frequently have rap sheets and open warrants for more serious charges; if someone is ready to leap a turnstile (or lift themselves over a barrier), they are more likely to act on a far harsher impulse once on the platform or onboard a train.
Unpunished, widespread fare bashing also sends a message to law-abiding citizens that they are suckers for paying anything at all.
Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton saw that by cracking down on fare beating, he was reducing overall crime and laying the groundwork for the city’s remarkable safety achievements beginning in the 1990s.
Former Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, a progressive, refused to see this and ceased prosecuting the practice in 2017, a policy that his even worse successor Alvin Bragg and other DAs followed.
And, because to the state’s catastrophic criminal justice reforms, there is now essentially no penalty for many of the more serious offenses farebeaters progress to.
The impacts — an increase in all types of crimes in the subway, including killings — were entirely foreseeable.
These new gates will have little effect on the larger culture of lawlessness.
Only Albany Democrats and the city’s district attorneys can fix this.
Expect New York City’s societal degradation to continue until they do.
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