NYC subway hack bested MTA's new gates, proving there's no tech solution for fare-beating

POLITICS: NYC subway hack bested MTA’s new gates, proving there’s no tech solution for fare-beating

Don’t send a gate to do a cop’s job.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber admitted Wednesday that the $700,000 gates installed at a station in Queens to prevent turnstile jumping weren’t the answer to fare-beating, but maintained that some version of the gates might at least help: “We’re going to continue to experiment,” and “it’s being adjusted to deal with some of its shortcomings.”

In fact, Lieber knows technical solutions won’t be enough.

He’s just doing what he can because fare-beating is a plague not only on MTA finances (to the tune of $690 million a year and rising) but on straphanger safety and the entire viability of the subway.

But this was a fiasco.

When the MTA installed the gates in December at the Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue station, the agency touted the design as more secure since the tall, swinging doors are harder to jump over.

Oops: Within weeks came a viral video showing you can simply wave your hand over a motion sensor on the opposite side of the gates, which opens the doors with little fuss — and no need to jump.

The MTA installed subway gates that it claims are more difficult to bypass without paying. Brigitte Stelzer

And, as Post reporters figured out, the doors stay open for five seconds, so freeloaders can follow paying passengers in.

Yet stopping fare-beating is vital to a viable subway system.

Ridership remains 30% below 2019 pre-pandemic levels, and, contrary to progressive-speak, it’s not the “perception of crime” that’s causing average New Yorkers to avoid public transit.

It’s actual crime.

The MTA rolled out a new turnstile at the Parsons Ave. station in Jamaica, NY

Photo by Dennis A. Clark
Even with the gates, would-be turnstile jumpers can now simply slide through behind fare-paying riders while the gates are open. Dennis A. Clark

The latest NYPD data show that assaults in the subways hit a 27-year high last year — even as overall crime dropped 2.6% citywide from 2022 to 2023.

The 570 assaults in trains or subway stations in 2023 were up 52% from the 2019 level — again, despite far fewer riders.

And the rise actually began years before COVID — about the time the political class started treating fare-beating as a trivial offense.

In reality, it’s a “gateway crime”: People who enter the system by breaking one law are way more likely to break more laws, and disorder breeds more disorder.

NYPD data show that about 45% of those pinched for fare-beating have open warrants for other crimes, and regularly turn out to be carrying illegal guns.

New York’s decades of gains against crimes literally began with then-MTA Police Chief Bill Bratton’s massive crackdown on fare-beating.

Mayor Eric Adams’ NYPD is trying: Fare-beating arrests have doubled on his watch.

The problem is the city’s DAs, who’ve largely given up on prosecuting fare-beaters, and state lawmakers, who’ve reduced the penalties.

But these elected officials just don’t care, hence Lieber’s turn to technocratic fixes.

What New York really needs is a gate that blocks pro-crime progressives from office.

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