MTA announces plans for EAGLE teams, officers who tackle bus fare evasion

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Friday, August 4, 2023
MTA to expand teams tackling fare evasion on buses
The MTA announced a specialized team of officers will now work to enforce the payment of bus fares. Tom Negovan has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA announced a specialized team of officers will now work to enforce the payment of bus fares.

The teams will be on the buses and at bus stops, the MTA said.

According to the MTA, it lost $315 million to bus fare evasion last year. That $315 million is from buses alone -- which have suddenly become the MTA's biggest source of fare evasion.

"We estimate 30 to 35% of our bus customers are getting off free every day; which means 66% of New Yorkers who are paying their fare are getting a raw deal," said NYC Transit President Rich Davey.

The MTA's beefed up EAGLE teams have arrived to enforce the fares and keep a watchful eye on the community. EAGLE stands for Evasion and Graffiti Lawlessness Eradication.

These MTA officers are uniformed and unarmed. The teams are also supported by the NYPD.

The NYPD's support is important because the Transit Union says fare-jumpers have been likely to engage in other criminal acts.

"Our main issue is the onslaught of assaults our members face every single day," Safety Director of TWU Local 100 John Chiarello said. "We know that far evasion and assaults go hand in hand."

With ridership way back up and the MTA reporting solid financial numbers, they say they want to get a handle on this immediately.

"That is money we should be using to provide better transit, and instead it's totally lost," MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said. "It's not fair to the millions of riders who play by the rules, who every day swipe their credit card."

Another point the MTA is stressing is that it does not want the crime of fare evasion to be a crime of poverty.

Low-income New Yorkers are eligible for half-off fare cards.

The MTA is working with the Department of Social Services to keep ridership up and fair for everyone.

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