NY: MTA seeks ideas to deter NYC subway fare evaders with modern gates

Jan. 2, 2024
The subways lost $285 million to turnstile jumpers and other fare evaders in 2022 — and  stanching the problem is a “critical challenge,” the MTA said in its request for ideas about new subway gates.

New York is stepping up its effort to replace century-old subway turnstile technology with modern gates that deter turnstile jumpers and other fare evaders.

Fare evasion has reached “crisis levels,” the MTA said Tuesday as it announced a request for information from companies interested in helping replace the subways’ turnstiles, emergency exit doors and other barriers with modern fare gates.

The subways lost $285 million to turnstile jumpers and other fare evaders in 2022 — and  stanching the problem is a “critical challenge,” the MTA said in its request for ideas about new subway gates.

Riders in Queens can already see the type of gates the MTA is considering at the Sutphin Blvd.- Archer Ave. station in Jamaica.

The chest-high metal and glass gates are nearly impossible to jump over or crawl under. They swing open when riders slide MetroCards or tap OMNY-enabled phones to access the platforms.

When you leave the system, the gates swing open automatically — and swing shut quickly enough that no fare cheater coming into the station will be able to get past.

Gates like those the MTA anticipates installing on the subways have been used on the Paris Metro for years. Boston’s “T” first installed fare gates at subway stations in 2005, and has started installing them at commuter rail stations.

The request for information the MTA published Tuesday will not lead directly to a contract to install the gates, the agency said.

But it does provide technical specifications for what the MTA seeks.

The gates will have to allow 25 passengers a minute to enter the subway system, and allow 50 people a minute to depart.

They’ll have to be vandal-resistant, free of “sharp edges or corners,” and made of materials “designed to withstand NYCT’s [New York City Transit’s] harsh operating environment.”

The gates must meet requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and provide access to people with “disability or any other need, such as pushing a stroller or transporting luggage or packages.”

The MTA has been inching toward the installation of fare gates over the last couple of years. It displayed fare gates built by several companies at Grand Central Terminal in May. It displayed another idea for a fare gate at Brooklyn’s Jay St.- MetroTech station in 2021.

Installing new gates is among the recommendations released in May by an MTA panel that studied the agency’s fare evasion problems.

Besides the $285 million lost to subway fare evaders in 2022, the MTA lost $315 million to bus fare evaders, $46 million to bridge and tunnel toll evaders and $44 million to commuter train fare evaders.

The MTA has made some mechanical changes to the existing turnstile system meant to deter fare evasion — but it believes gates are a better long-term solution.

“Everyone should pay their fair share to ride mass transit,” NYC Transit President Richard Davey said in a statement. “Modernized fare gates are the natural starting point for subways to address this problem”

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