Residents Not Impressed with New Set of Higher Subway Gates Installed to Prevent Fare-Jumping
By Yehudit Garmaise
New subway fare gates that reach just below most adults’ chests and swing open and closed after payment have replaced, at one station in Queens, the type of turnstiles that have been in place for more than 100 years.
In January 1921, the city’s subway system, then called the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), installed automatic turnstiles so that ticket agents would not be necessary to admit passengers after depositing their fares, which cost a nickel.
The new subway gate design is just one of several potential designs the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is testing out to attempt to stop the turnstile-jumpers who stole $690 million in fares last year.
Fare-beaters are not just robbing the MTA, but their presence on subways poses a risk to the law-abiding passengers who pay their fares.
Fare evasion and carrying concealed weapons are activities on the train that are strongly correlated, NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said last month.
Police often find those who refuse to pay $2.90 for a ride often end up having active warrants or are carrying guns and knives, Kemper pointed out.
“Not every fare evader is a criminal, but experience has shown that virtually every criminal is a fare evader,” MTA CEO Janno Lieber said last year when the agency tried hiring private security grounds as part of its latest crackdown.
Officials say the higher “paddles” on the fare gates will make entering the subway system easier for riders with bags or suitcases, riders with strollers, and riders in wheelchairs or dealing with other disabilities.
In fact, the MTA chose the Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue stop, which connects to the JFK Airtrain, to test whether passengers who are carrying luggage can easily maneuver through the gates after swiping their MetroCard or tapping in via OMNY.
The new gates are similar to the more modern types of subway entry, which are far harder to jump over or crawl under, that are frequently used in other major U.S. and European transit systems.
At least one Boro Park resident, however, is skeptical that the new fare gates will help stop the 400,000 riders of the 3.4 million subway passengers on average who not pay their fares every weekday in New York City.
“There is no point behind this new fare gate, as jumpers can jump it easily, as well,” said Shmiel G.
“I don’t think I’ve seen technology that’s perfect in any city, frankly,” said Rich Davey, the president of New York City Transit. “But this is obviously going a long way to improving our current turnstile system.”