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MTA stations unarmed, private guards at subway entrances to stop would-be fare evaders

MTA hires private security to crack down on fare evasion
MTA hires private security to crack down on fare evasion 02:36

NEW YORK -- New York City is bringing back the old idea of cracking down on fare evaders to prevent crime on the subway

The MTA has hired private, unarmed guards to help monitor the subway system, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported Thursday. 

The guards will be moving around to different stations on different days to stop turnstile jumping. The idea is to stop a small crime to prevent a more serious one. 

Transit officials are testing the pilot program at random stations. Unarmed guards are being stationed at turnstiles to prevent people who don't pay from getting into the system. 

"To intercept people at the fare array and to block criminality in the system," said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. "Not every fare evader is a criminal, this is important point. But experience has shown that virtually every criminal is a fare evader." 

It's reminiscent of the broken windows theory, which states minor crimes contribute to an atmosphere of lawlessness and encourage more serious crimes. For example, video from Oct. 13 shows a man ducking under a turnstile at East 138th Street and Alexander Avenue. Police said he went on to punch an 18-year-old in the head. 

Overall, statistics show that transit crime is up more than 41 percent citywide compared to this same time last year. 

Riders had mixed reviews about the pilot program. 

"You're still going to have your crazies no matter what. Whether they're hopping the turnstile, paying for it, you're going to have your crazies either way. So I don't think it's gonna really make a difference," said Michael Bryan. 

"I guess they're drawing straws trying to find answers to a very difficult situation," one woman said. "Obviously mental health issues are, since COVID, really, really difficult." 

"I don't think it could hurt. I think anything you do can help," another woman said. 

Transit officials said the program, which has been quality tested since August, is working. 

"It's already showing impact on the frequency of fare evasion at those stations and we have now included the addition of 50 of those guards per month over the next few months," said Lieber. 

Fare evasion costs the MTA tens of millions of dollars per year. The cost of the pilot program has not yet been revealed. 

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