NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Riding the rails for free? Conductors in New Jersey claim it’s easier to pull off than you might think.

Crowded, understaffed trains are making it easier for commuters to hitch a ride without buying a ticket, according to NJ TRANSIT employees.

Salvatore told 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman that he gets away without paying on NJ TRANSIT all the time, and he refuses to.

“Conductors used to wake you up at your stop when you worked overtime, they used to know you by name,” he said, “They don’t even care who you are today.”

Times have changed. NJ TRANSIT’s conductors union wrote a letter to the agency saying last year their members missed nearly 270,000 fares equaling about $5-million because the trains were overcrowded, and they were understaffed.

Riders said they’ve seen it happen.

“Very seldom, doesn’t happen often, maybe in rush hour once a week,” Lisa said.

A spokesperson for NJ TRANSIT said it is seldom, and most riders at peak times have monthly passes, so they’ve already paid. The lost revenue amounts to less than one percent of the budget.

“The $5 million estimate cited in the SMART-TD letter, which is purely speculative, represents less than 1 percent of revenue — of which 80% of the rail riders during the peak period for peak direction trips are monthly pass holders and revenue is not lost,” Senior Public Information Officer, Lisa Torbic said.

The revelation comes as NJ TRANSIT faces complaints from customers who have been faced with delays, cancellations, and a deadly derailment in the past year.


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