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MTA President proposes fare evasion crackdown with riders desperate for safety solutions

MTA President proposes crackdown on fare evasion to deter subway crime 02:39

NEW YORK -- Subway safety is top of mind for many New Yorkers following the Sunset Park mass shooting and Monday's deadly shooting at a station in Queens.

Local leaders have different ideas on how to curb it, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Tuesday.

As police search for the gunman who killed a 24-year-old man at the Jamaica Center/Parsons-Archer station, people continue to ride the subway - many because they have to, though they'd rather not.

Police in Queens patrolled the station Tuesday as commuters went about their day after yet another shooting in the subway.

"Scary. Scary, but I have to use it," a rider said.

"You're riding the train with different people. You don't know what goes through their minds, so it's kinda scary at times," Brendon Robertson said.

"The police can only do so much. You can't have a police officer on every corner. That's just realistic. It takes the people as well," Darryl Bonner said.

Monday afternoon, Marcus Bathea of Brooklyn was shot dead near the turnstiles after arguing with the suspect. Police said Bathea knew the shooter, but the motive remained unclear.

"These type of people, they're taking over the stations," Jamaica resident Andy Quito told CBS2's John Dias.

"There is nothing safe about this place," resident Iashawn Stebans said. 

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell tweeted in part, "The efforts of NYPD Detectives are relentless as they investigate the tragic violence."

The latest NYPD statistics show subway crimes were up almost 45 percent last week, 65 percent for the year, driven by increases in assaults.

"It's a death trap. That's what this place is now, a death trap," said Darlene Blalock, who'd like to avoid the subway, but uses it to get to work.

"Ride at your own risk," she said.

Mayor Eric Adams has talked about pilot projects with new technologies that can detect guns, but the Queens borough president says the focus should be on gun trafficking.

"I'm at a wits end on how they're going to resolve this issue," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. "We're chasing our tails because for every one gun that the NYPD probably takes off, we've probably got 100 more coming in or more."

Richards said he'd been asking for a permanent police post in the station where Monday's shooting happened.

"One of the things that came to my mind right away ... was anger. Because I have pre-warned the NYPD about this specific location," Richards said.

Deadly subway shooting has New Yorkers desperate for sollutions 02:20

The NYPD's chief of transit said there were no officers in the booth area at the time of the shooting. 

"We need to further increase law enforcement's visibility throughout the system and to get serious about enforcement of the MTA"s longstanding rules of conduct," MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. 

Lieber wants to focus on fare evasion to deter subway crime.

"News flash, people who commit robberies and violent crimes generally don't bother with MetroCard swipes," MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. "What we want, all of us, is to deter crime before it happens by keeping the bad actors out of the system in the first place. Fare evasion enforcement can pick up all kinds of illegal guns and other weapons."

Tuesday, Lieber announced a panel consisting of people, like the city's schools chancellor, who will look for new ways to approach fare evasion.

"The panel will produce policy and action recommendations over the summer. We anticipate they're gonna focus on three areas: education, equity and enforcement," Lieber said.

"There have been repeat crackdowns on fare evasion and what we're hearing is the needle just isn't moving," said Danny Pearlstein with Riders Alliance. "I think it's appropriate to approach this panel like the rest of the fare evasion discussion, with some skepticism. But ideally, I think in the best case, what would come out if it is an expanded and deepened program of more affordable fares for low-income New Yorkers."

The MTA said fare evasion at the current rate will cost about $500 million this year. CBS2 noticed multiple people jumping the turnstile and going through the emergency exit at the station in Queens.

Police say while the suspect in Monday's shooting may still be on the loose, there is no threat to public safety. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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