It’s the right thing to do!
By Noah Kotlarek
4% of New York City Subway riders do not pay fares. That’s 208,000 people daily. Everyday 208,000 people steal from you and your city. God forbid, if you are one of these 4-percenters, you aren’t stealing from Mayor de Blasio, you aren’t stealing from big government, you aren’t stealing from the Deep State, you aren’t stealing from a system that’s wronged you, you are stealing from those you call your fellow New Yorkers. Exactly $260 million is looted from the New York City Subway per annum.
To address this, in June 2019, Governor Cuomo enacted his plan to crack down on fare evaders: 500 NYPD and transit officers deployed to the fifty subway and fifty bus stations where fare evasion is most common. Offenders will face a $100 fine.
This is unfortunate for two reasons, the first on principle and the second in practice. On principle it is sad that our fellow New Yorkers must be policed and fined because they choose to steal. It is concerning that fare evasion has escalated to this level. Are we not better than that? In practice it is unfortunate because even those who rightly pay the fare are penalized for the actions of the 4-percenters. Policing and recovering the stolen $260 million costs the innocent taxpayers. However, this fare-payer versus 4-percenter mentality is not wholly healthy. It is a result of our flawed culture which we must all work to change.
Of course, we must hold those who walk through emergency and handicap gates, pay of peddlers for entry, and jump over the turnstiles to save $2.75 for their crimes, but we must also set an example by continuing to pay our fares, pointing out who the real victims of fare evasion are, and changing our culture away from an individualist mindset and towards a collectivist attitude. We must not see fare evasion as solely a failure of the individual thief but as a failure our culture.
For the 96% of New Yorkers who do pay the fare, keep rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. When you swipe your yellow card take pride in the fact that you are an essential instrument in the symphony that is the New York City Subway System. Each time you swipe your MetroCard at the turnstile, debiting your expenses and crediting your assets, take joy in the fact that you are letting live one of the nation’s greatest transportation and infrastructure feats. Not only is it an impressive example of human ingenuity, it’s also a beautiful example of social collectivism. Government officials and taxpayers have joined arms to create a system to get people where they need to go so the economy can continue to flow.
Another reason to continue paying is to set an example to children. By showing children that it is just to pay the fare you are taking part in the socialization of the youth, a vital part of keeping our nation whole, and ensuring there will be yet another generation of loyal taxpayers willing to fund the programs we all depend on.
This however is not enough, in order to reduce crime, we need potential criminals to know who they are really stealing from and instill the population with collectivist attitudes. Thieves may justify fare theft assuming that they are taking from an autocratic government with limitless funds. While it’s true that the city probably has a bigger budget than the individual, when the city suffers financially that cost is carried over to its citizens. To turn this mentality around, critical thinking must be emphasized in our educational system. Equipped with a strong mind, citizen will realize the importance of contributing to society for the benefit of us all.
Though it is important to call out those who do unjustly take from the Subway System, it is also important to remember that 14.1% of New Yorkers live below the poverty line (family of four making $24,860 or less) and there are people who genuinely cannot afford the fare. The $2.75 fare is of course flat and thus regressive. I’m not advocating for a progressive rate on subway fares but this statistic does lower the culpability of some of the 4-percenters. It does not however lessen the culpability of Fordham students, whose average household income is $151,800, who ride without swiping their MetroCards.
The next time you find yourself in the position to either cheat the system or to swipe your card, do the right thing and Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam pay your fare. Besides, in the end what is $2.75 for transportation. For all the city and country has bestowed upon us fortunate Fordham students the least we can do is abide by the law and pay our fair share.