Happy Transit Friday: MTA tries to make money, wants money from riders (again!) and don’t farebeat, or Eagle will fall upon you.

Happy happy Friday where the weather in NYC is currently no rain (yet) and not deathly humid outside.
So what’s good in the news?

Well, after reading about the MTA considering pimping out their MetroCard fronts for adspace, they’re now considering bringing back their unpopular proposal of enacting a $1 “Green” tax on MetroCard fares (which was first proposed back in 2010 for 2011 in an article from the NY Post). According to the MTA, the tax will supposedly help keep riders from just buying cards and discarding them willy-nilly before their expiration dates and causing more garbage in landfills. Having a tax on it will keep riders using the same old cards until they can be used no more. However, if you do have an expired card, when you go to refill it you are exempted from this tax (should it go into effect next year if it passes).

According to the New York Daily News article:

The MTA on average prints and encodes 160 million MetroCards a year at a cost of approximately $9.5 million, agency spokesman Adam Lisberg said.
The surcharge will generate an estimated $18 million in revenue while printing fewer MetroCards will save another $2 million or so, according to the MTA.

I think I preferred if they attempted this route instead. What is that old adage? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar? An optional tax with a good cause attached to it might have been a better approach as people knowing where their money goes (especially if it’s towards the betterment in quality of life) would be more opened to “donating”. Plus the MTA could always sweeten the pot by including names of biggest civilian donors to this “Green” program (nothing makes you feel more important than seeing yourself in print) in a scrollable box on a page in their website. Just saying.

For those who want to help the MTA keep used cards out of the landfill, might I suggest reusing them as a more resilient version of their product? At least yours will be homemade and it won’t get soggy in the rain! Of course I don’t condone selling it (not even on Etsy, hipsters!), because their legal eagles will be on you like white on rice.


A member of the Eagle Team (mta.info)

Speaking of eagles… the MTA is increasing the presence of the Eagle Team[!] (okay, saying it without the added emphasis of an exclamation mark really doesn’t give it the oomph that it deserves) on their bus routes.

According to MTA’s information on the Eagle Team:

Created in September 2007, The Eagle Team began their work in collaboration with the NYPD and both the NYCT’s Departments of Buses and Subways to combat graffiti and vandalism.  By ensuring our yards and depots were secure, the Team was able to make a serious dent in the vandalism problem.  In June 2008, the Eagle Team expanded to cover SBS in the Bronx and again in October 2010 and November 2011 as two more SBS routes opened in Manhattan.

On their Select Bus Service (SBS) lines (the fareless pay-before-you-board system), the Eagle Team has been a deterrent on farebeating. Basically it’s additional MTA personnel on the buses making sure people boarding have paid the fares and aren’t just trying to get a free ride. In addition, they will also help NYPD determine which areas or “hot spots” are more prone to farebeating. If caught evading the fare, a member of the Eagle Team will have the authority to issue a summons of $100.00.

While this sounds good, it begs some questions:

  • What if they encounter a farebeater who will get violent? So far the press release said that they have been “credited with creating an atmosphere of minimal fare evasion as well as near zero operator assaults along those routes.” It neglects to mention if Eagle Team personnel are constantly on the buses even during off-peak late night hours, or are they only there during rush hours, or randomly throughout the day outside of late night hours.
  • How many Eagle Team members out of the 60-70 members (actual number 57) are prone to be on routes outside of Manhattan (like the Bx12 in the Bronx) or are they more clustered in Manhattan (because everything dangerous always happens there. /sarcasm) on their other 2 SBS routes: the M34/34A and M15.
  • If, and if that scenario of violence actually comes up, would they be able to subdue the person if they do turn violent while they wait for NYPD assistance as according to the previous link that members of Eagle Team do have prior law enforcement experience? Or will they have to take a passive approach and just notify NYPD when it occurs (much like Station Agents who are forbidden to leave their booths and penalized if they do when something happens to a rider in the station)? If it’s the latter, how will this be any more safer than having cameras onboard and partial partitions for the operators?

For those who tl;dr’d the last bit, the tl;dr would be: Eagle Team is good, but I have questions about passenger/operator safety during late night hours that wasn’t brought up in short MTA PR piece because I’m cynical and like to question things.


2 thoughts on “Happy Transit Friday: MTA tries to make money, wants money from riders (again!) and don’t farebeat, or Eagle will fall upon you.

  1. I think the Green tax doesn’t sound bad at all. It’s really not a heavy “tax,” which is something they have tried to make less formal by giving an odd amount of bonus money on cards so people are less likely to throw them away, but refill them. With so many hated fare hikes, this is a fair thing to implement.

    • I agree, I think it’s just the way they go about it makes riders go up in arms over it.

      As for their horrible bonus system, I’d probably take the tax if they did away with the current bonus system and bring back the first one. There’s still a looming fare hike in 2013 (& 2015), although I don’t believe it should be too much of an increase.

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