NYC bus drivers told not to open rear doors as MTA cracks down on fare beating

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City bus drivers are being reminded not to open rear and center doors on their vehicles as part of an effort to curb fare beating, which the MTA says has become an epidemic.

The agency says about one third of riders skip out on paying their fare, which is costing millions.

It happens all day, every day. Wherever there are buses, there are riders who don't pay the fare. Ken Williams drives a bus in Queens.

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"I think that everybody who needs to get where they need to go should have enough responsibility and enough respect for themselves to be able to pay for their fare," he said.

By their own numbers, the MTA is losing half a million dollars every day to fare evasion on buses.

Riders are supposed to enter through the front door, where the fare is paid. Instead, many wait until someone exits through the rear doors, then they pile on.

At times Monday on the B35, Eyewitness News reporter NJ Burkett saw more people entering through the rear of the bus than they did through the front.

The driver can activate the rear door using a switch, but the MTA issued the directive ordering drivers to avoid opening the rear door as means to prevent people from boarding that way.

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But union leaders say it sets up a potential for confrontations between drivers and fare beaters, at a time when assaults on transit workers are rising.

"We don't want to get in the middle of trying to collect fares, because all that leads to is fights and assaults," TWU Local #100 Vice President J.P. Patafio said. "And we don't want any assaults on bus operators."

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