NYCTRC Testimony – November 12, 2019 – Fare Evasion and the Need for Data-Driven Decisions


Statement by Bradley Brashears, Planning Manager, PCAC
Fare Evasion and the Need for Data-Driven Decisions
At the MTA Finance Committee Meeting
MTA Headquarters, 2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004
November 12, 2019

Good morning, I am Bradley Brashears, speaking today on behalf of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) about fare evasion and the importance of making data-driven decisions.

Fare evasion has become an MTA money drain, with 2018 losses at $225 million, and YTD 2019 losses already at $300 million. Smart data-driven decisions must be made to address it, and transparency is integral so that all stakeholders can understand why decisions are being made.

For example, last month board member Robert Linn pointed out that just five bus routes – all in a single borough – have high fare evasion rates that cost the agency $27 million, the same amount as the top 50 subway stations. It would seem most efficient to prioritize focusing on these bus routes – which have still not been publicly identified. We encourage the MTA to work collaboratively with local elected officials to evaluate the place-specific data and come up with solutions to dramatically reduce the problem.

In addition to asking that you identify the boroughs and routes or stations with the highest fare evasion, we would like to know if fare evasion is tied to the rates of:
• Bus riders entering through the rear-door due to front-door overcrowding.
• Bus riders far from MetroCard machines
• Denied entries because subway turnstile MetroCard readers are not clean.
• Bi-directional turnstile overcrowding, making an open-gate door entry more appealing.
• Out of service subway MetroCard machines.
• Not being able to afford the fare.

If these are contributing factors, some possible solutions could be:
• Providing an earlier OMNY roll-out targeted to the most affected fare evasion areas.
• Providing more service on bus routes to reduce overcrowding.
• Making fare evasion ads more effective, including providing Fair Fares information.

There is much to uncover here, but we will only know if we are on the right track if you open up the data on fare
evasion and let everyone be part of the solution. Then stakeholders can know if the right decisions are being made, and trust in those solutions. Fare evasion hurts everyone, and could be a contributing factor in possible service cuts, which nobody wants to see.

Thank you.

Download here: 11.12.19 Fare Evasion and Data-Driven Decisions