By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New Yorkers who sneak onto buses and subways without paying are “a huge problem” to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to an MTA board member, who said the agency is hoping to work with the New York Police Department to crack down on the fare cheats.
“It is unlawful and you cannot allow people to get away with not paying,” Allen Cappelli said during a roundtable discussion with Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and state Sen. Marty Golden on Friday. “We have to stop the abuse. Serious attention has to be paid to it.”
Malliotakis charged that fare evasion costs the MTA $100 million a year — money that could be going instead to restore shuttered bus and subway services, or to add new services.
Fare evasion takes place more on buses than subways, according to Cappelli.
But Golden said it happens often in subways, too.
“Right in front of us, people are jumping over the turnstile,” he said.
Cappelli said he has requested a report from the MTA on statistics on fare evasion incidents. Golden suggested using technology as a means to fight the fare-beaters.
“On some buses, you need a camera on the bus,” he said.
Fare evasion was just one of the transportation topics that came up during the roundtable organized by Malliotakis.
Malliotakis said she invited Cappelli to take part in the roundtable, which took place at the district office she and Golden share at 7408 5th Ave., to thank the MTA board member for working to restore weekend express bus service between Bay Ridge and midtown Manhattan and other services. They also wanted to discuss the possibility of bringing back the B37 bus on 3rd Avenue.
The MTA had cut weekend express bus service and the B37 bus in 2010, citing budget deficits and the need to save money.
The agency found tens of millions of dollars in untapped revenue and used $30 million of it to restore some of the services it cut two years ago. The possibility of restoring more services is there, “but it won’t happen overnight,” according to Cappelli.
“We’re in the first inning of a nine-inning ballgame,” he said.
The MTA still faces a $40 million budget deficit in fiscal year 2014, Cappelli said.
The MTA received help saving money from lawmakers who convinced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to waive a $50 million fee the agency was mandated to pay the state for issuing bonds. Malliotakis and Golden have introduced bills in their respective legislative houses to have the bond fees waived permanently.
Malliotakis also said she would like to see all residents, not just Staten Islanders, get a break on the Verrazano Bridge toll. The toll system in place is stunting economic growth, she said.
“We can’t get people to go to visit the other boroughs,” she said. “If we were to reduce that toll for everyone, it would be better,” she said.
Malliotakis and Golden also presented Cappelli with other items on their transportation wish list, including introducing a bus line on 65th Street and installing a bike lane on the Verrazano Bridge.
“We should have a bike lane on the Verrazano,” Golden said. “I’d like to make that a reality at some point in the future.”