NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The NYPD has begun flooding city buses with undercover and uniformed cops to nab serial fare-beaters, a problem that’s costing the agency $100 million a year, officials said yesterday.
The operation has led to 1,228 fare-beating arrests from Jan. 1 through June 24 — a 102 percent increase from the 609 arrests in the same period last year, according to NYPD statistics released yesterday.
Much of the crackdown took place in The Bronx, where 992 people were caught ripping off the system. Last year, 412 people were arrested in The Bronx for fare-beating on buses.
Staten Island, which officials say is regularly among the worst locations in the city for bus fare-beating, came in second place, with 60 arrests this year — up from three last year.
The NYPD has also ramped up random inspections, sending uniformed cops on board buses more than 900 times in the past month.
The MTA, which drastically cut bus and subway service in 2010 to save $93 million, estimates it loses about $100 million a year to fare-eaters on subways and buses combined. The amount lost on buses is higher than on subways, which is in the range of $40 million, according to officials.
Much of the fare-beating on subways involves children who have outgrown the 44-inch height limit but continue to ride for free.
Fare-beating also tends to be committed by adults who simply walk on the bus without paying — then brazenly intimidate bus drivers who try and stop them.
The most popular method used by these crooks involves sneaking into the middle doors of articulated buses and blending in with riders.
The Post reported in May that as much as a third of riders on the Bx19, which runs between the New York Botanical Garden and 145th Street in Harlem, dodge the fare every day.
The problem is so bad that NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox yesterday urged riders to report any turnstile jumpers or bus scofflaws to the police.
“We could use all the help we can get,” he said at the MTA’s transit committee hearing.
Although the thief will likely be gone by the time cops arrive, it will help police track where fare-beating is happening, he said.
“It’s an important part of our enforcement,” Fox said.