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MTA's Fine For New York Subway Fare Hoppers May Reach $500

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Flickr: phoosh
Flickr: phoosh

Whether you've run out of cash or are a fugitive baffled by MetroCard vending machines, straphangers may need to start thinking twice before jumping the turnstile.

The State Senate has passed a new bill that could allow the perpetually broke MTA to hike up the current $100 fine to a whopping $500 for violating its Rules of Conduct for those who risk fare evasion.

Senator Charles Fuschillo penned the legislation and said, "The MTA and its fare-paying riders shouldn't have to spend tens of millions of dollars more each year paying for other people's illegal free rides."

Last summer, a report by the MTA found the average jumper was caught only once for every 6 to 13 weeks. Therefore, economically speaking, it actually did pay off for individuals to dabble in farehopping:

At $100 per fine, this works out to be cheaper than a $27 weekly unlimited Metrocard that would cost $162 over six weeks. So the fare-skipper who gets nabbed only once in that period still comes out ahead by $62. And that was in 2009. While the price for a weekly pass has since increased to $29, the cost of the fine has not, so in 2011 it pays even more to hop the turnstile.

Furthermore, the MTA reported that fare evasion cost the agency $31 million in 2010.

43 percent of fare evading perpetrators are said to be children, a demographic we highly doubt will be able to shell out the proposed $500 fine. In October, a group of young women caused a ruckus after police attempted to escort them out of the station for allegedly jumping the turnstiles.

The MTA closed the year by approving a $12.6 billion budget with no fare increases or service cuts, a budget that continues the MTA's budget woes with a $68 million deficit.