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MTA Stepping Up Push To Stop Bus Fare Skippers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – According to MTA officials, people skipping out on paying fares on city buses led to more than $128 million in lost revenue last year alone.

Now a renewed push to cull fare beaters is underway, much to the relief of honest riders, reports CBS2's Alice Gainer.

Rider Marcos Figeureo of Brooklyn takes the bus a few times a week and pays every single time, but he constantly sees others stiffing the driver.

"School kids - they just walk on the bus or they always have an excuse that they lost their MetroCard or they don't have it," he said. "Or if someone leaves from the back they just walk straight in."

He says the drivers usually do nothing about the fare skippers, often staying silent to avoid a violent confrontation.

Last month New York City Transit President Andy Byford said 22 percent of bus riders don't pay.

"The bad news is the bus fare evasion rates, as you can see on the chart, does show a continued worsening," he said in March.

On Monday, the MTA gave an update on a very small pilot program putting NYPD officers on buses.

"We actually don't want to arrest anyone," said Byford. "We don't want to criminalize people."

"It is all about behavior modification," said Robert Diehl of MTA operations planning. "It's about getting people to understand they could have a penalty if they beat the fare."

"I've asked the NYPD to do their own assessment to understand from an enforcement point of view what they need to do to be most effective," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

All of these agencies say once more information is collected from the pilot program, they'll all know how to proceed.

Williamsburg resident Clover Moore welcomed the new focus on enforcement.

"Adults who should be working want a free ride and fare, but it's not fair," she said.

For years the MTA used "Eagle Teams," usually retired police officers, onboard buses to randomly check for receipts.

The MTA also says the subway fare beaters were the priority for a time, but now the focus is on buses.

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