New York City transit fares

The fares for services operated under the brands of MTA Regional Bus (New York City Bus, MTA Bus), New York City Subway (NYC Subway), Staten Island Railway (SIR), PATH, Roosevelt Island Tramway, AirTrain JFK, NYC Ferry, and the suburban bus operators Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) and Westchester County Bee-Line System (Bee-Line) are listed below.

MetroCard Vending Machine (MVM)

Current fares

On all modes of transport except for NYC Ferry, all fare payments must be made using MetroCard or (except for express buses and sunbways) coins (excluding half-dollars and pennies).[1] Both MetroCard and SmartLink are accepted on PATH; however, SmartLink cannot be used on any other transit system in New York City. Subways and (effective April 21, 2019) express buses within New York City only accept MetroCard as payment.

NYC Ferry fares are paid using physical or digital tickets, which are not compatible with the MetroCard,[2] or with any of the city's other modes of transport.[3]

Base fares

All fares are in US dollars. Except for NYC Ferry, kids under 44" tall ride for free with fare-paying rider; limit is 3.[4]:47

MTA Bus/NYC Bus: Local, Limited-Stop, Select Bus Service,
Bee-Line (except BxM4C bus), NICE, PATH
NYC Subway, SIR, Roosevelt Island Tramway
Express buses
(MTA and
Academy bus SIM23/SIM24)
BxM4C bus[5] Student MetroCard[6] NYC Ferry[7] AirTrain JFK[8] Access-A-Ride
(NYC paratransit)
(Nassau County
Full Reduced Full Reduced
Full Reduced
Full Half-
  • $3.00 for a Single-Ride MetroCard ticket[10]
  • $2.75 for a PATH SingleRide Ticket[11]
  • $2.75 for NICE when paying in coins[9]
  • $1.25 for NICE when
    paying in coins [9]
  • $1 for PATH by using
    Senior SmartLink Card.[11]
$6.75 [10] $3.35 [10] $7.50 $3.75 Free $1.25 $2.25 $2.75
($3.75 for cyclists with bikes)
$5 $2.75 $3.75
($75 for a book of 20 tickets)
Transfer restrictions:
  • All transfers are valid for 2 hours and 18 minutes.[12][13][14][15]
  • MetroCard transfers are good for one connecting trip on any other NYC Bus/MTA Bus: local, limited-stops, Select Bus Service or express bus services; NYC Subway, Bee-Line, NICE or Roosevelt Island Tramway (restrictions apply).[13][14] Exceptions:
    • Two transfers are available with MetroCard at several places. The transfers must be made within two hours in order or in reverse order.
      1. Between Staten Island bus routes crossing the Staten Island Railway, through St. George Ferry Terminal, and then any NYCT local bus or NYC Subway service below Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan.[16]
      2. Between the B61, the B62, and any bus route connecting with either the B62 or B61 (but not both).[17]
      3. Between the Q29, the Q33, and the Q72 to LaGuardia Airport only.[18]
      4. Between the S59 or S78, the S79 SBS, and any connecting bus or subway route in Brooklyn.[18]
      5. Between the n20G, the n20H or n21, and then any connecting bus route.
  • Transfers with nickels, dimes, or quarters are usually good for use on one connecting local bus route.[13]
  • Customers transferring to suburban buses from another system with a lower base fare must pay the difference between the fare on the first bus and the fare on the second bus.
  • No free transfer between PATH and NYCTA operations.[11]
  • PATH does not accept reduced fare MetroCard.[11]
  • Staten Island Railway fares are collected at St. George and Tompkinsville stations (in both directions).[16] A second fare is not deducted for travel between St. George and Tompkinsville.
  • No free transfer between NYC Ferry and any other operations.[7]
  • Coins are not accepted on NYC Transit, MTA Bus, or Academy Bus express bus service. These fares can only be paid with MetroCard.[19]

Unlimited-ride fares

All fares are in US dollars. There is a $1 purchase fee for all new MetroCard purchases within the subway system or at railroad stations (except for expiring or damaged MetroCards or MetroCards bought as part of a UniTicket).[20]

7-Day Unlimited[21] 30-Day Unlimited[22] 1-Day Unlimited SmartLink[11] 7-Day Unlimited SmartLink[11] 30-Day Unlimited SmartLink[11] 7-Day Express Bus Plus[23] 10-Trip AirTrain JFK[8][24] 30-Day AirTrain JFK[8][24] Monthly NYC Ferry[7]
Full fare

($141 for cyclists with bikes)

Reduced fare
  • The 7 Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard is the only Unlimited-Ride MetroCard accepted on Academy Bus Routes SIM23/SIM24 and MTA express buses.
  • The 30-Day AirTrain JFK MetroCard is the only Unlimited-Ride MetroCard accepted on AirTrain JFK. This MetroCard is not valid on any other services.
  • No Unlimited MetroCards are accepted on the BxM4C and PATH trains.[5][11]
  • SmartLink is is the only Unlimited-Ride card accepted on PATH. SmartLink is not valid on any other services.[11]



All transfers with MetroCard are free from bus to subway, local bus to local bus, and subway to local bus. For transfers to express buses from local buses (except for the BxM4C), an additional US$3.75 is deducted from a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard.[25] With coins, transfers are available to different local buses only, with some restrictions. All transfers are good for two hours. Transfers are available upon request when boarding only.[13][14][15]

SingleRide tickets are valid for one ride within two hours after purchase on local buses and the subway. One bus-to-bus transfer is allowed;[26] however, transfer between buses and subways in either direction are not allowed.[27]

On the Select Bus Service routes except S79, customers paying with coins requiring a transfer must board via the front door and request a transfer from the operator. All other customers may board via any of the three doors on Select Bus Service buses.[28]

Bee-Line customers needing to transfer to Connecticut Transit (I-Bus and route 11),[29] Transport of Rockland (Tappan ZEExpress),[30] Putnam Transit (PART 2),[31] or Housatonic Area Regional Transit (Ridgefield-Katonah Shuttle)[32] services must ask for a transfer, even if paying with MetroCard. The BxM4C does not accept paper or MetroCard transfers, but it does issue transfers to/from other buses and the subway.[5] There are no transfers to the BxM4C, but one may transfer from the BxM4C.[5]

NICE customers needing to transfer to City of Long Beach N69, Suffolk County Transit, or Huntington Area Rapid Transit[33] services must ask for a transfer, even if paying with MetroCard.

NYC Ferry

As NYC Ferry uses a separate fare payment system from the rest of New York City's transportation system, it does not provide any free transfers to any other modes of transportation. However, passengers can request one free transfer to a connecting NYC Ferry route, valid within 90 minutes of the passenger boarding the first route. Tickets are checked when the boat arrives at the station.[7][3]

Transfer restrictions

There are restrictions on transfers, as noted below:


Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard holders cannot make subway-to-subway transfers by exiting the turnstile and entering again. The sole exception of a transfer between Lexington Avenue/59th Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue and BMT Broadway Lines and Lexington Avenue/63rd Street on the IND 63rd Street Line.[34] Until 2011, an extra out-of-system subway-to-subway transfer was allowed between 23rd Street–Ely Avenue/Long Island City–Court Square on the IND Queens Boulevard and Crosstown Lines and 45th Road–Court House Square on the IRT Flushing Line. This transfer was eliminated with the opening of an in-system transfer passageway among the three stations.[35]

Additional exceptions are added on a case by case basis, usually whenever a regular transfer is unavailable due to construction. From January 5, 2019 until early 2020, a free MetroCard transfer will be added between Inwood–207th Street (A train) and either 207th Street or 215th Street (1 train) due to the temporary closure of the 168th Street station.[36] In April 2019, because of the 14th Street Tunnel shutdown, two additional MetroCard transfers were added. The two free out-of-system transfers are between Broadway (G train) and either Lorimer Street or Hewes Street (J and ​M trains); as well as between Livonia Avenue (L train) and Junius Street (3 train).[37]


For Pay-per-Ride customers, there is no free transfer back onto the same route on which the fare was initially paid, or between the following buses:[38]

  • Manhattan:
    • M1, M2, M3, M4: No transfer between buses traveling in the opposite direction.
    • M31 and M57: No transfer between buses traveling in the opposite direction. Transfers are available between buses traveling in the same direction, however.
    • M96 and M106: No transfer between buses traveling in the opposite direction, or in the same direction.
    • M101, M102, M103: No transfer between buses traveling in the opposite direction.
  • The Bronx:
    • Bx1 and Bx2: No transfer between buses traveling in the opposite direction on the Grand Concourse.
    • Bx40 and Bx42: No transfer between buses traveling in the opposite direction along Tremont Avenue.
  • Nassau:
    • No transfers between bus routes that are not listed on the timetable of the route on which fare was paid. In essence, one cannot transfer between bus routes that do not intersect.[14]
  • Express:
    • No transfers from any route to the BxM4C, even with a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. Transfers from the BxM4C are valid, though.[5]
    • No transfers between different Union Turnpike express buses (QM1, QM5, QM6, QM31, QM35, QM36) traveling in the opposite direction.


There are no subway-to-bus or bus-to-subway transfers without a MetroCard allowed, with one exception:

Fare history

Below are the fares charged for single boardings on the transit lines and predecessors of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA). Different combinations of transfer privileges and the abolition of double fares to the Rockaways have altered these fares from time to time. Since July 4, 1997, massively increased transfer privileges and pass discounts have lowered the average real fare significantly.[39] According to MTA figures, only 2.1% of rides are single-ride fares.[40]

Subway and local buses

  • $0.05 (1904[41] – July 1, 1948[41])
  • $0.10 (July 1, 1948[41] – July 1, 1953[42])
    • Bus fare: $0.07 from 1948[41] until 1950 and $0.10 from 1950 till 1953
  • $0.15 (July 2, 1953[42] – July 5, 1966[43])
    • Bus fare: $0.13 from 1954 till 1955 and $0.15 from 1956 till 1966; 5th Avenue Bus line fare raised to 15 cents on January 1, 1954
  • $0.20 (July 5, 1966[43] – January 3, 1970[44])
  • $0.30 (January 4, 1970[44] – December 31, 1971[45])
  • $0.35 (January 1, 1972[45] – August 31, 1975[46] (MSBA/Long Island Bus from 1973)[47]
    In December 1973, the MTA started trialing a program in which passengers could pay a single one-way fare to take round trips on the subway, buses, and railroads on Sundays.[48] Since this resulted in higher ridership, the MTA extended it through the beginning of 1975.[49]
  • $0.50 (September 2, 1975[46] – June 27, 1980[50])
  • $0.60 (June 28, 1980[50] – July 2, 1981[51])
  • $0.75 (July 3, 1981[51] – January 1, 1984[52])
  • $0.90 (January 2, 1984[52] – December 31, 1985[53])
  • $1.00 (January 1, 1986[53] – December 31, 1989[54])
  • $1.15 (January 1, 1990[54] – December 31, 1991[55])
  • $1.25 (January 1, 1992[55] – November 11, 1995[56])
  • $1.50 (November 12, 1995[56] – May 3, 2003[57][58])
  • $2.00 (May 4, 2003[57][58] – June 27, 2009[59])
  • $2.25 (June 28, 2009[59] – December 29, 2010[60])
  • $2.25 base fare (December 30, 2010[60] – March 2, 2013[61])
    • $2.50 SingleRide MetroCard ticket fare[60]
  • $2.50 base fare (March 3, 2013[61] – March 21, 2015[62][63])
    • $2.75 SingleRide MetroCard ticket fare[61]
  • $2.75 base fare (March 22, 2015 – present)[62][63]
    • $3.00 SingleRide MetroCard ticket fare[62][63]

Express bus base fare

  • $1.50 (1975 - June 27, 1980)[50]
  • $2.00 (June 28, 1980 - ?)[50]
  • $3.00 (? - December 31, 1985)
  • $3.50 (January 1, 1986 – December 31, 1989)
  • $4.00 (January 1, 1990 – February 28, 1998)
  • $3.00 (March 1, 1998 – May 3, 2003)[64]
  • $4.00 (May 4, 2003 – February 26, 2005)[58]
  • $5.00 (February 27, 2005 – December 29, 2010)[65]
  • $5.50 (December 30, 2010 – March 2, 2013)[60]
  • $6.00 (March 3, 2013 – March 21, 2015)[61]
  • $6.50 (March 22, 2015 – April 20, 2019)[62][63]
  • $6.75 (April 21, 2019 - present) - MetroCard only, coin payment discontinued[66]

Fare collection history

Token and change

NYCTA tokens; usage dates from left to right: 1953–1970; 1970–1980; 1979–1980; 1980–1986; 1986–1995; 1995–2003

From the inauguration of IRT subway services in 1904[67] until the unified system of 1948 (including predecessor BMT and IND subway services), the fare for a ride on the subway of any length was 5 cents ($.05 in 1904 equivalent to $1.39 in 2018; $.05 in 1948 equivalent to $0.52 in 2018). On July 1, 1948, the fare was increased to 10 cents (equivalent to $1.04 in 2018), and since then has steadily risen.[68] When the New York City Transit Authority was created in July 1953, the fare was raised to 15 cents (equivalent to $1.4 in 2018) and a token was issued.[69]

The tokens were changed periodically as prices changed. The first token change occurred in 1970 when the fare was raised to 30 cents.[70] The token did not always change with the fare: in 1972, when the fare increased from 30 to 35 cents, the MTA simply raised the prices of existing tokens[45] (although a change in token size had been mulled[71]). Another fare rise in 1980, which brought the fare from 50 to 60 cents, did result in the issuance of smaller tokens.[72]

For the 75th anniversary of the subway in 1979 (also called the Diamond Jubilee), a special token with a small off-center diamond cutout and engraved images of a 1904 subway car and kiosk were issued. Many were purchased for keepsakes and were not used for rides.[73] New versions of tokens were issued in 1980,[50] 1986,[53] and 1995.[56] The last iteration of tokens, which started circulating in 1995, featured a hole in the middle and were called the "Five Borough Token".[39]

There were issues with the tokens, however. It was a common scam to circumvent the payment of fares by jamming the token slot in an entrance gate with paper. A passenger would insert a token into the turnstile, be frustrated when it did not open the gate, and have to spend another token to enter at another gate. A token thief would then suck the token from the jammed slot with their mouth. This could be repeated many times as long as no police officers spotted the activity. Some token booth attendants sprinkled chili powder in the slots to discourage "token sucking".[74] Token sucking (also known as stuff 'n' suck) was charged under theft of services, criminal tampering and criminal mischief.[75]

Token issues were compounded when transit riders discovered in the early 1980s that tokens purchased for use in the Connecticut Turnpike toll booths were of the same size and weight as New York City subway tokens. Since they cost less than one third as much, they began showing up in subway collection boxes regularly.[76] Connecticut authorities initially agreed to change the size of their tokens,[77] but later reneged and the problem went unsolved until 1985, when Connecticut discontinued the tolls on its turnpike.[78] At that time, the MTA was paid 17.5 cents for each of more than two million tokens that had been collected during the three-year "token war".[78]

Tokens were sold until April 13, 2003, when they were replaced with the MetroCard.[79][80] These tokens were phased out in 2003 when the fare rose to $2 (equivalent to $2.72 in 2018).[57][81]


On October 30, 1992, the installation of Automated Fare Collection turnstiles began.[82] On June 1, 1993, MTA distributed 3,000 MetroCards manufactured by Cubic Transportation Systems in the first major test of the technology for the entire subway system and the entire bus system.[83] Less than a year later, on January 6, 1994, MetroCard-compatible turnstiles opened at Wall Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 and ​5 trains) and Whitehall Street – South Ferry on the BMT Broadway Line (N, ​R, and ​W trains).[57] All MetroCard turnstiles were installed by May 14, 1997, when the entire bus and subway system accepted MetroCard.[82] On September 28, 1995, buses on Staten Island started accepting MetroCard, and by the end of 1995, MetroCard was accepted on all New York City Transit buses.[82]

Before 1997, the MetroCard design was blue with yellow lettering. These blue cards are now collector's items.[84] On July 4, 1997, the first free transfers were made available between bus and subway at any location with MetroCard. This program was originally billed as "MetroCard Gold". Card colors changed to the current blue lettering on goldenrod background.[82] The first MetroCard Vending Machines (MVMs) were installed on January 25, 1999 in two stations,[85] and by the end of 1999 347 MVMs were in service at 74 stations.[57] On April 13, 2003, tokens were no longer sold.[79][80] Starting May 4, 2003, tokens were no longer accepted, except on buses.[86][87][86]

Two pilot programs were introduced to find a replacement to the MetroCard a few years after it was implemented. In the first, introduced in early 2006, the MTA signed a deal with MasterCard to test out a new RFID card payment scheme.[88][89] Originally scheduled to end in December 2006, the trial was extended into 2007 due to "overwhelming positive response".[90] In light of the success of the first PayPass pilot project in 2006, another trial was started by the MTA. This one started on June 1, 2010, and ended on November 30, 2010. The first two months started with the customer just using the MasterCard PayPass debit or credit card.[91][92][93][94] However, this trial was the debut of having a rider use the VISA PayWave debit or credit card to enter the system, which started on August 1, 2010.[95] For six months, a rider could use either a MasterCard Paypass or VISA PayWave credit/debit card to pay for a fare on an expanded list of subway and bus routes.[96][97]


On October 23, 2017, it was announced that the MetroCard would be phased out and replaced by OMNY, a contactless fare payment system also by Cubic, with fare payment being made using Apple Pay, Google Wallet, debit/credit cards with near-field communication enabled, or radio-frequency identification cards.[98][99] The October 23 announcement calls for the expansion of this system to a general-use electronic fare payment system at 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses by late 2018, with all buses and subway stations using electronic fare collection by 2020. However, support of the MetroCard is slated to remain until 2023.[99]

Fare evasion


The New York City Subway has four basic types of fare control equipment: low turnstiles (including agent-operated special entry turnstiles, SETs), high entrance-exit turnstiles (HEETs), high exit turnstiles (HXTs), and gates (including emergency exit gates (EXG), agent-operated gates (AOG), and Autonomous Farecard Access System (AFAS) gates for wheelchair access). Passengers enter the subway by swiping farecards to unlock the turnstiles. Typical control areas feature low turnstiles, one or more EXGs, and a token booth. Unstaffed entrances that were remodeled before the late 2000s featured only HEETs and EXGs. Exit-only locations have only HXTs and EXGs. All control areas must have at least one EXG, as per State emergency regulations.[100]

Systemwide EXG installations since 2006 introduced a weakness into otherwise secure AFC systems. Gates were originally only unlocked via booths' buzzers or employees’ keys. After London Underground’s 2005 terrorism attacks, fire codes required “panic bars”, allowing each gate to be opened from the paid side, expediting emergency evacuation. While a loud, piercing, and warbling alarm sounds whenever EXGs are opened, general public took to using gates for exiting (substantially reducing queues), especially at unstaffed locations.[101] It happened so often that in January 2015, the MTA silenced all exit alarms.[102]

Per MTA fare tariff, exceptions to normal turnstile operations abound. Children under 44 inches (110 cm) (turnstile machines’ top height) must crawl under when entering with fare-paying adults (not permissible when travelling alone). Those with bulk items (bicycles, strollers, packages) must request station agent witness their swiping farecard, rotating turnstile without entering, then enter through an AOG with their items. Passengers with paper half-fare or “block” tickets must relinquish them to the agent and enter through a SET. School groups traveling with authorization letters may be admitted through an AOG.

An added complication is several unofficial system entry methods resulting in no revenue loss but forbidden by tariff are frequently practiced. At unstaffed locations, fellow passengers often open EXGs for entry by customers with bulk packages after witnessing them rotate turnstiles without entering. Children often squeeze through HEETs with paying adults (if under 44”, no revenue loss occurs). At token booths, agents often admit passengers through an AOG or SET for operational reasons. Police in uniform, construction workers, contractors in safety vests, employees, and concession vendors often enter with keys or agent's permission. Police officers or station agents sometimes allow student groups to enter through gates.


New York City's transit system in the 1970s was in disarray. Subway ridership was spiraling downwards, while private express buses mushroomed, exacerbating Transit Authority's (TA) problems. Crime was rampant; derailments, fires, breakdowns, and assaults were commonplace. Trains and stations were covered in graffiti. Passengers were actually afraid to ride the subway. To attract passengers, TA even introduced a premium fare “Train to the Plane” – staffed by a Transit police officer at all times. Comparatively, fare evasion seemed a small problem. However, fare evasion was causing the TA to lose revenue.[103]

TA's strategy for restoring riders’ confidence took a two-pronged approach. In 1981, MTA's first capital program started system's physical restoration to a State-of-Good-Repair. Improving TA's image in riders’ minds is as important as overcoming deferred maintenance. Prompt removal of graffiti and prevention of blatant fare evasion would become central pillars of the strategy to assure customers that the subway is “fast, clean, and safe”.[104][105] The graffiti came off the last subway cars in 1989.[106]

Similarly, fare evasion was taken seriously. The TA began formally measuring evasion in November 1988. When TA's Fare Abuse Task Force (FATF) was convened in January 1989, evasion was 3.9%. After a 15-cent fare increase to $1.15 in August 1990, a record 231,937 people per day, or 6.9%, didn’t pay. This continued through 1991.[107]

To combat the mounting problem, FATF designated 305 “target stations” with most evaders for intensive enforcement and monitoring. Teams of uniformed and undercover police officers randomly conducted “mini-sweeps”, swarming and arresting groups of evaders.[108] Special “mobile booking centers” in converted citybuses allowed fast-track offender processing.[109] Fare abuse agents covered turnstiles in shifts and issued citations. Plainclothes surveyors collected data for five hours per week at target locations, predominantly during morning peak hours. Finally, in 1992, evasion began to show a steady and remarkable decline, dropping to about 2.7% in 1994.[110]

The dramatic decrease in evasion during this period coincided with a reinvigorated Transit Police, a 25% expansion of City police, and a general drop in crime in U.S. cities. In the city, crime rate decline begun in 1991 under Mayor David Dinkins and continued through next two decades under Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Some observers credited the “broken windows” approach of law enforcement[111] where minor crimes like evasion are routinely prosecuted, and statistical crimefighting tools, whereas others have indicated different reasons for crime reduction.[112][113] Regardless of causality, evasion checks resulted in many arrests for outstanding warrants or weapons charges, likely contributing somewhat to public safety improvements. Arrests weren’t the only way to combat evasions, and by the early 1990s NYCTA was examining methods to improve fare control passenger throughputs, reduce fare collection costs, and maintain control over evasions and general crime. The AFC system was being designed, and evasion-preventing capability was a key consideration.

TA's queuing studies concluded that purchasing tokens from clerks was not efficient. Preventing ‘slug’ use required sophisticated measures like tokens with metal alloy centers and electronic token verification devices. To provide better access control, the NYCTA experimented with floor-to-ceiling gates and “high wheel” turnstiles. Prototypes installed at 110th Street/Lexington Avenue station during a “target hardening” trial reduced evasions compared to nearby “control” stations.[114] However, controls consisting entirely of “high-wheels” created draconian, prison-like environments, with detrimental effects on station aesthetics. Compromises with more secure low-turnstile designs were difficult, as AFC did not prevent fare evasion.[115]

Production Automated Fare Collection (AFC) implementation began on January 6, 1994.[39] New turnstiles, including unstaffed high wheels, and floor-to-ceiling service gates, featured lessons learned from trials. As AFC equipment was rolled out, evasion plummeted. Fare abuse agents, together with independent monitoring, were eliminated.

In December 2018, in the midst of a transit crisis, the MTA announced that as many as four percent of subway riders and 16 percent of bus riders each day might not be paying fares, amounting to 208,000 subway riders and 384,000 bus riders per day.[116][117] In response, Byford stated that the MTA was studying ways to physically prevent fare evaders from jumping over subways turnstiles, or entering the rear doors of buses where they did not need to pay.[118]

Station agents

The MTA had tried to reduce station agent positions since full MetroCard vending machine (MVM) deployment in 1997.[39] Agents, whose primary responsibility was selling tokens, now sell MetroCards. However, AFC eliminated long token booth queues, so fewer clerks were needed. Passengers now interact with agents only for requests like mutilated farecards, concessionary fares, or travel directions. Clerks were not cross-trained for AFC maintenance; that function was assigned to turnstile maintainers. The MTA determined that each station required only one full-time booth, serving dominant (or both) travel directions. Some booths were removed altogether because it was felt that MVMs would be sufficient.[119]

Some thought the station destaffing plan would lead to potential evasion increases, and consequently more general crime. The original FATF (1988–1997) was reconvened in 2009 to review trends and coordinate mitigation strategies between MTA and New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s Transit Bureau. Further confusing the issue, agents themselves historically provided evasion counts in their normal course of duty.[119]

Decision to eliminate agents turned out controversial with both riding public and elected officials. Representatives were concerned about constituents’ jobs, whereas riders were concerned about susceptibility to crime.[120]

A 2004 compromise converted low-volume booths to high-wheels, high-volume booths to part-time entrances called “kiosks” (51) staffed by Station Customer Assistants (SCAs). Affectionately called “burgundy jackets”, SCAs do not sell farecards, instead they walk around solving customers issues, including fare machine usage.

Agents' presence in the stations is disputed. A civil suit concerning the 2005 sexual assault at 21st Street station, which occurred despite the alarm having been raised by the agent.[121] However, an agent saved a life in Cathedral Parkway–110th Street in 2010.[122]

The 2009 fiscal crisis necessitated more agent reductions, leaving only one 24-hour booth per station complex. Planned attrition program was converted to layoffs when fiscal situation deteriorated further in 2010.

Prevention techniques


In studies, gate evasion rate was found to be 1.5% unlocked, and only 0.8% when locked. Unlocked gates also invite more “questionable” entries; rate was 1.8% unlocked, but only 0.9% locked. Keeping gates locked potentially halves gate-related evasions. Following this finding, MTA reinstructed station supervisors and agents on importance and revenue impacts of keeping gates locked. Questionable gate entries decreased from 1.5% to 0.4% following this change, but illegal gate entries did not show statistically significant decrease when seasonality effects were accounted for. This measure seems to target mostly casual evasions.

Originally fare control hardware and staff presence was thought to affect evasions. Unstaffed HEETs (with emergency exits), a generally unsupervised environment, might invite rampant evasions. However, pilot studies indicated these locations had similar gate evasions (0.9%) to staffed locations (1.0%). At least in New York, agents do not seem to deter evaders. Unsupervised HEETs had similar turnstile evasions (1.2%) to staffed locations (1.0%). Unsupervised exit-only locations have lower gate evasions (0.6%) than elsewhere, suggesting evasion is a crime of opportunity. Exit-only gates are only opened when trains arrive and passengers open them from the paid side; evaders likely find it more time-efficient to evade through entrances. Only the most determined evaders would wait at exit-only locations for others to exit, to enter.

Passenger height

Passengers may be unaware of height guidelines determining when children must begin to pay, which were posted at booths that many customers no longer use.[123][124] Prototype signs are being tested near turnstiles at the Bowling Green station, and a sign also exists at the 81st Street–Museum of Natural History station.


MVM vandalism costs MTA both in lost revenues and repair expenses. MTA provides MVM vandalism intelligence to NYPD, which utilizes hidden portable wireless digital video cameras in “sting” operations to gather evidence against organized fare abuse rings and identify leaders. These “professional swipers” can be difficult to apprehend because they are very mobile and require strategic and determined law enforcement efforts to monitor MVM vandalism patterns, prioritizing stations with the highest vandalism rates.

In years past, theft-of-service crimes were often dismissed with time served (several days in Riker's Island), but by working with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and Midtown Community Court, FATF achieved escalating sentences for recidivists. The coordinated efforts resulted in a five-swiper ring being disbanded and sentences of over one year being imposed. Measuring impacts of taking down fare abuse operations is difficult, because even large swiper rings ‘sell’ very few fares compared to natural day-to-day fluctuations of the 8.0 million riders on NYC's system due to reasons like weather or special events.

Legal framework and enforcement

The most important evasion fighting tool is arguably comprehensive and functioning legal frameworks to deal with evaders and counterfeiters. MTA's Rule of Conduct (62) has banned evasions since the 1980s, rules having been established mainly for arresting persons likely to commit other crimes (assault, graffiti). With appropriate legal framework, like traffic stops, evasion checks can be effective in identifying and arresting criminals wanted on outstanding warrants.

To round-up evaders, MTA fare inspectors continue to use the “surge” strategy first developed by Transit police. Renewed enforcement interests led to several high-profile cases. Swiss tourists with allegedly valid passes were ticketed for bumping turnstiles.[125] One passenger was arrested for exiting through an emergency gate, even though he was not evading a fare.[126][127]

Legal framework is more than prohibition of illegal acts and prescription of fines. Complete regulations should address issues like: arrests versus summonses; arresting/summons issuing powers; whether undercover enforcement is permitted; disputes/appeals process (e.g. “my monthly MetroCard isn’t working, so I went through the gate”); dealing with genuinely confused tourists (e.g. “I flashed my pass, so going through the gate is okay?”); required evidence for conviction (e.g. whether video evidence are admissible). New York allows certain non-police employees to issue evasion citations, and utilizes both uniformed and undercover police enforcement.

Evasion prevention hardware

Video recording equipment may deter criminal activity, including evasion. Cameras are widely deployed in modern Asian and European transit systems.

Like other US agencies, New York City Subway installed counter-terrorism cameras at key stations. PIDs cover fare controls from every conceivable angle with high fidelity video, positively identifying terror suspects. They also produce clear pictures of entering and exiting passengers, including evaders.

On Port Authority Trans-Hudson (and some New York City Subway stations), hidden rooms with half-silvered glass or surveillance portals are provided for covert police observation. Perpetrators are apprehended by police that suddenly appear from behind closed doors when illegal acts occur.


MTA's $60 penalty was internally set by Transit Adjudication Bureau (TAB) with delegated powers.[128] NYCT increased fines to $100 in July 2008, the maximum TAB can levy without further approvals, to support conversion to Proof-of-Payment (POP) fare collection for the Select Bus Service.

Other preventative measures

There are also uniformed guards, undercover police officers, and ticket barriers to prevent fare evasion on the subway. On Select Bus Service, a penalty fare may need to be paid.

See also

  • Pizza Principle, the connection between single-ride fares and a slice of pizza in New York City


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AirTrain JFK

AirTrain JFK is an 8.1-mile-long (13 km) elevated people mover system and airport rail link serving John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) in New York City. The driverless system operates 24/7 and consists of three lines and ten stations. It connects the airport's six terminals with the New York City Subway in Howard Beach, Queens, and with the Long Island Rail Road and subway in Jamaica, Queens. Bombardier Transportation operates AirTrain JFK under contract to the airport's owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

A railroad link to JFK Airport was first recommended in 1968. Various plans surfaced to build a JFK Airport rail connection until the 1990s, though these were not carried out because of a lack of funding. The JFK Express subway service and shuttle buses provided an unpopular transport system to and around JFK. In-depth planning for a dedicated transport system at JFK began in 1990, but was ultimately cut back from a direct rail link to an intra-borough people mover. Construction of the current people-mover system began in 1998. During construction, AirTrain JFK was the subject of several lawsuits, and an operator died during one of the system's test runs. The system opened on December 17, 2003, after many delays. Since then, several improvements have been proposed for AirTrain JFK, including an extension to Manhattan.

All passengers entering or exiting at either Jamaica or Howard Beach must pay a $5 fee, while people traveling within the airport can ride for free. The system was originally projected to carry 4 million annual paying passengers and 8.4 million annual inter-terminal passengers every year. The AirTrain has consistently exceeded these projections since opening. In 2017 the system had nearly 7.7 million paying passengers and 12.6 million inter-terminal passengers.

Chinese in New York City

The New York metropolitan area is home to the largest and most prominent ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, hosting Chinese populations representing all 34 provincial-level administrative units of China and constituting the largest metropolitan Asian American group in the United States as well as the largest Asian-national metropolitan diaspora in the Western Hemisphere. The Chinese American population of the New York City metropolitan area was an estimated 893,697 as of 2017. New York City itself contains by far the highest ethnic Chinese population of any individual city outside Asia, estimated at 628,763 as of 2017.New York City and the surrounding area, including Long Island and parts of New Jersey, is home to 12 Chinatowns, early U.S. racial ghettos where Chinese immigrants were made to live for economic survival and physical safety that are now known as important sites of tourism and urban economic activity. Six Chinatowns (or nine, including the emerging Chinatowns in Corona and Whitestone, Queens, and East Harlem, Manhattan) are located in New York City proper, and one each is located in Nassau County, Long Island; Edison, New Jersey; West Windsor, New Jersey; and Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey. This excludes fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York metropolitan area, such as Jersey City, New Jersey; China City of America in Sullivan County, New York; and Dragon Springs in Deerpark, Orange County, New York. The Chinese American community in the New York metropolitan area is rising rapidly in population as well as economic and political influence. Continuing significant immigration from Mainland China has spurred the ongoing rise of the Chinese population in the New York metropolitan area; this immigration and its accompanying growth in the impact of the Chinese presence continue to be fueled by New York's status as an alpha global city, its high population density, its extensive mass transit system, and the New York metropolitan area's enormous economic marketplace.


The MetroCard is the payment method for the New York City Subway; New York City Transit buses, including routes operated by Academy Bus under contract to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), MTA Bus, and Nassau Inter-County Express systems (NICE); PATH; the Roosevelt Island Tramway; AirTrain JFK; and Westchester County's Bee-Line Bus System. It is a thin, plastic card on which the customer electronically loads fares.

The card was introduced in 1992 to enhance the technology of the transit system and eliminate the burden of carrying and collecting tokens. The MTA discontinued the use of tokens in the subway on May 3, 2003, and on buses on December 31, 2003.

The MetroCard is managed by a division of the MTA known as Revenue Control, MetroCard Sales, which is part of the Office of the Executive Vice President. The MetroCard Vending Machines are manufactured by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc.The current swipe MetroCard is expected to be phased out by 2023. It will be replaced by OMNY, a contactless payment system where riders pay for their fare by waving or tapping credit or debit bank cards, smartphones, or MTA-issued contactless smart cards.

New York City Subway

The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened in 1904, the New York City Subway is one of the world's oldest public transit systems, one of the world's most used metro systems, and the metro system with the most stations. It offers service 24 hours per day on every day of the year, though some routes may operate only part-time.The New York City Subway is the largest rapid transit system in the world by number of stations, with 472 stations in operation (424 if stations connected by transfers are counted as single stations). Stations are located throughout the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

The MTA also operates the Staten Island Railway and MTA Bus, with free transfers to and from the subway. The PATH in Manhattan and New Jersey and the AirTrain JFK in Queens both accept the subway's MetroCard but are not operated by the MTA and do not allow free transfers. However, the Roosevelt Island Tramway does allow free transfers to the MTA and bus systems, even though it is also not operated by the MTA.The system is also one of the world's longest. Overall, the system contains 245 miles (394 km) of routes, translating into 665 miles (1,070 km) of revenue track; and a total of 850 miles (1,370 km) including non-revenue trackage.By annual ridership, the New York City Subway is the busiest rapid transit rail system in both the Western Hemisphere and the Western world, as well as the eighth busiest rapid transit rail system in the world; only the metro (subway) systems in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Moscow, and Hong Kong record higher annual ridership. In 2017, the subway delivered over 1.72 billion rides, averaging approximately 5.6 million daily rides on weekdays and a combined 5.7 million rides each weekend (3.2 million on Saturdays; 2.5 million on Sundays). On September 23, 2014, more than 6.1 million people rode the subway system, establishing the highest single-day ridership since ridership was regularly monitored in 1985.Of the system's 27 services, 24 pass through Manhattan, the exceptions being the G train, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle. Large portions of the subway outside Manhattan are elevated, on embankments, or in open cuts, and a few stretches of track run at ground level. In total, 40% of track is above ground. Many lines and stations have both express and local services. These lines have three or four tracks. Normally, the outer two are used for local trains, while the inner one or two are used for express trains. Stations served by express trains are typically major transfer points or destinations.As of 2018, the New York City Subway's budgetary burden for expenditures was $8.7 billion, supported by collection of fares, bridge tolls, earmarked regional taxes and fees, as well as direct funding from state and local governments. Its on-time performance rate was 65% during weekdays.

New York City Transit Authority

The New York City Transit Authority (also known as NYCTA, The TA or simply Transit, and branded as MTA New York City Transit) is a public authority in the U.S. state of New York that operates public transportation in New York City. Part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest and largest transit system in North America, the NYCTA has a daily ridership of 8 million trips (over 2.5 billion annually).The NYCTA operates the following systems:

New York City Subway, a rapid transit system in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Staten Island Railway, a rapid transit line on Staten Island (operated by the subsidiary Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority)

New York City Bus, an extensive bus network serving all five boroughs, managed by MTA Regional Bus Operations.

Pizza Principle

The Pizza Principle, or the Pizza-Subway Connection, in New York City, is a humorous but generally historically accurate "economic law" proposed by native New Yorker Eric M. Bram. He noted, as reported by The New York Times in 1980, that from the early 1960s "the price of a slice of pizza has matched, with uncanny precision, the cost of a New York subway ride."In 1985, the late writer, historian, and film critic George Fasel learned of the correlation and wrote about it in an op-ed for The New York Times. The term "Pizza Connection" referring to this phenomenon was coined in 2002 by New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman, who commented on the two earlier publications of the theory in the Times, and predicted a rise in subway fare.In May 2003, The New Yorker magazine proclaimed the validity of the Pizza Connection (now called the pizza principle) in accurately predicting the rise of the subway (and bus) fare to $2.00 the week before. They also quoted Mr. Bram (by then a patent attorney) as warning that since the New York City Transit Authority had announced the discontinuation of the subway token itself in favor of the variable-fare cost MetroCard (also used on the buses at that point), the direct correlation between the cost of an off-the-street slice of cheese pizza and the cost of a subway token might not continue to hold.

In 2005, and again in 2007, Haberman noted the price of a slice was again rising, and, citing the Pizza Connection, worried that the subway/bus fare might soon rise again. The fare did indeed rise to $2.25 in June 2009, and again in 2013 to $2.50. In 2014, Jared Lander, a professional statistician and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, conducted a study of pizza slice prices within New York City and concluded that the Pizza Principle still holds true. Other New York City news organizations occasionally confirm the ability of the Pizza Principle to predict increases in the cost of a single-ride subway/bus fare in the city. As of 2019, The Wall Street Journal notes that due to a combination of a decrease in the fare bonus for a subway/bus ride rather than an increase in the overall fare ($2.75), alongside with the increased variability of the cost of pizza in New York City, that the Pizza Principle is no longer accurate.

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