NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Consider this a “fare warning” about a new way to pay for a bus ride.
If you fail to follow the rules you could face a $100 fine. So far, more than 10,000 bus riders have been busted.
CBS 2’s Tony Aiello caught up with the special team out looking for fare evaders.
They are armed with ticket books — and they’re not afraid to use them. They are inspectors from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s so-called “eagle team.”
They swoop in to check for fare jumpers on the new “Select Bus Service” routes.
“Our goal is to get people to understand that this is not a free system; you have to pay,” said Vincent DeMarino, the MTA’s VP of security.
With a traditional bus you pay on board, causing jam-ups at the fare box. With Select Bus Service you must pay at a machine at the curb, collect a receipt and then enter the bus through any of the three doors.
“This way, people have all paid their fare before the bus comes. All three doors open, everyone gets off, everyone gets on and we can get buses out of a stop in less than a minute,” Select Bus Service director Ted Orosz said.
“Great, it’s faster to board, I like it,” one rider told Aiello.
To make sure riders paid, inspectors do spot checks asking for receipts.
“A $100 ticket? Yeah, not a fun thing,” one rider said.
Inspectors are writing a lot of those tickets — more than 14,000 since Select Bus Service debuted.
Some have complained that it’s a New York City ritual of to run up and jump on the bus just as it’s about to pull away, but you can’t do that with Select Bus Service because if you haven’t stopped to get a receipt, you run the risk of getting a ticket.
But the MTA said inspectors have been cutting riders a lot of slack.
“Our people who use tremendous amounts of discretion, common sense and good judgment, just realize the person didn’t understand, made a mistake. We escort them off the bus,” DeMarino said.
The MTA said Select Bus Service is working so well it will soon expand to additional routes.
The MTA said rush hour travel times have improved by 20 percent on Select Bus Service routes in Manhattan and the Bronx.
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