Today’s news:

MTA launching crackdown on fare beaters

Bronx Times

Fare beaters beware - the MTA is coming after you!

The agency is re-doubling its efforts in nailing illegal riders who slip in through the back doors of buses to avoid paying.

But first the agency said it needs to see how bad the problem is so it can develop a “plan of action.”

“We are now in the process of gathering a complete and accurate account of this problem,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman Deidre Parker.

The latest initiative comes amid published reports that the Bx19 bus, running from Harlem to the New York Botanical Garden, sees a high number of violators who scoff at paying for $2.25 fare.

With 6.2 million riders across the city, the cash-strapped MTA estimates it loses about $14 million annually in lost fares.

Details on the crackdown are being worked out, according to the MTA.

For now, there are several initiatives in place for keeping the trend at bay. NYPD Chief of Transit Joseph Fox said “EAGLE Teams” are regularly assigned to the Bx12 Special Bus Service, conducting surprise checks, asking riders to see the ticket receipts they’re supposed get before boarding. They face a $100 fare beating fine.

Pelham Parkway rider John Wohlberg has witnessed plenty of those shenanigans on the Bx12 SBS, which runs from Pelham Bay to Manhattan’s Inwood.

“They should be given a summons and pay,” is Wohlberg’s solution.

But enforcing the problem is a losing game for bus drivers, according to TWU spokesman Jim Gannon.

“The protocol for farebeaters is to diplomatically tell the person that they have not paid the fare,” said Gannon. “If the person still refuses, the driver is to allow the person on without confronting them.”

Gannon also said that while there is a protocol for dealing with fare beaters boarding the front of the bus, there is none for those who enter in the rear. Another problem, he said, is that many drivers simply do not want to confront fare beaters.

“Fare disputes are the cause of many assaults,” he said, citing incidents of verbal, spitting and physical abuse.

One such case happened to Bronx bus driver Lisa Clark, who was viciously spat by a pair of fare-dodgers while heading from Webster Avenue to Fordham Plaza last year. The couple fled.

Clark now carries pepper-spray.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or email dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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