Mathematicians determine jumping turnstiles cheaper than paying for the subway

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s subway division estimated fare-beaters entered without paying 18.5 million times in 2009 – an astounding average of 50,684 a day. Cops issued just 120,000 summonses that year.

Evaders have a small chance of getting a summons, so small that not paying for a ride makes economic sense to some straphangers, a new study shows.

A routine subway-fare scofflaw can expect to get hit with a $100 fine every six to 13 weeks, MTA analysts found.

Daniel Predergast and Pete Donohue, N.Y. Daily News.

Well first of all, if the MTA is looking to discourage turnstile-jumping, maybe its analysts should hush up about how easy and cost-effective it is to regularly jump the turnstiles.

Also, I bet if it’s that easy to ride the subway for free, regular turnstile-jumpers almost never get caught, so the once-every-six-weeks thing isn’t even accurate. I bet the people who do get caught are inexperienced “scofflaws” who don’t bother checking to see if there are police around, like the woman quoted in the story who apparently didn’t notice the three cops ready to ticket her for her transgression.

Of course, that means you can’t rely on turnstile-jumping for all your transit needs, unless you’re willing to travel only at times convenient for free riding.

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