New York, NY – For working New Yorkers, taking the subway is an essential part of their day-to-day life. Having a car in New York is incredibly difficult and expensive, which means unless you are rich enough to take a cab to work every day, the subway is basically the only viable option. So for the many New Yorkers with working-class jobs that do not allow them to show up late without risk of getting fired, it is very important that the subway runs smoothly and remains affordable.
However, the reality is that New York’s Metro Transit Authority (MTA) struggles to maintain a dilapidated subway system that faces constant delays. Only about 25% of stations are fully accessible, and the MTA estimates it will be $426 billion in debt by 2023. How does the MTA propose to solve these problems? Their ‘solution’ is to ruthlessly police the poor and the homeless in a new crackdown on fare evasion, and to further exploit transit workers, putting more money into the pockets of MTA officials and higher ups.
The MTA announced in late 2019 that they will hire 500 new cops to patrol the subway stations and stop people from evading the subway fare. This comes as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push for so-called ‘quality of life policing.’ In other words, Cuomo and the MTA want to police the poor and the homeless out of the subways, which will in their minds improve the ‘quality of life’ for those who can afford the subway fare.
Since the MTA announcement of crackdown, New Yorkers have released videos of officers using excessive force against people for evading the fare, or even just for selling churros in the subway station. The MTA claims the new policing effort against fare evasion will save them $200 million over the next four years. This is a ridiculous claim on multiple fronts. For one thing, people aren’t all of a sudden going to roll over and pay if they literally cannot afford the subway fare. Secondly, the expansion of police forces will cost $249 million over the next four years – much more than the MTA plans to save.
All of this shows how out of touch with reality the MTA leadership and Governor Cuomo are. Rather than pushing for, say, increased taxes on the rich to help fund the transit system, their logic says, let’s squeeze more money out of poor and working people, despite the fact that New York is one of the richest cities in the world. Clearly, Cuomo and the MTA do not value the lives of the poor, and are only motivated by ways to save and make more money.