This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the New York Post
You can now ride the subway for free.
At least that is the message being sent by progressive prosecutors. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance declared his office would not prosecute turnstile jumpers. A similar pledge has been made by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Nothing in life is free, of course, and New Yorkers will pay for this through the nose in two important ways. Let’s start with the fiscal impact.
Fare-beating on the subway and buses costs the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority an estimated $100 million a year — and that was before the city broadcast an open invitation to cheat by essentially promising no consequences for doing so. Expect that number to rise dramatically.
This misguided plan also comes at the same time the MTA is begging the city and state to fund its $800 million rescue plan and desperately seeking a dedicated revenue stream to upgrade its outdated subway signals and infrastructure. With 70,000 monthly subway delays, which lead to $400 million in annual losses for businesses and employees, it’s not the time to encourage theft of service.
That’s the literal, financial cost. Then there’s public safety.
Some of the most hardened criminals on our streets have arrests for turnstile jumping on their rap sheets.
Alexander Bonds, the schizophrenic man who assassinated NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia in July, had six arrests on his record, including turnstile jumping. Similarly, Jose Gonzalez, who stole FDNY Emergency Medical Technician Yadira Arroyo’s ambulance before running her over with it, also had turnstile jumping among his more than two dozen misdemeanor charges.
Last month, Staten Island grandfather Jacinto Suarez was punched by 18-year-old Edward Cordero and fell to his death on the subway tracks while waiting for the R train at Brooklyn’s MetroTech Station. Cordero had been previously arrested seven times since 2015, twice for jumping the turnstile.
And just the other day, police busted an alleged turnstile jumper in Manhattan and discovered he was wanted for attempted murder.
When laws that are on the books are not enforced, the end result is more lawlessness and increased disregard for the NYPD and their mission. It took decades to rid our subways of fare-beaters and other hooligans, thus preventing other major crime by getting dangerous criminals off the streets; now it seems some politicians are prepared to welcome them back with open arms.
Sex crimes on the subway have been increasing at a steady rate over the last few years. Between 2014 and 2016 alone, reports of sexual assault on trains jumped over 51 percent. While some of us in the state Legislature are trying to crack down on these crimes with more stringent laws, the city’s new policy is making it more and more difficult to control lewd acts on subway trains by welcoming perverts to ride for free.
Plus there’s the quality-of-life deterioration: This will surely also encourage more panhandling in subway stations and on trains.
Should someone go to jail for jumping a turnstile? No. But we can’t expect fare beaters to pay a $100 summons for skipping a $2.75 fare, either. A real deterrent, such as community service for first-time offenders, is necessary both for maintaining our transit system, and for keeping riders safe.