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Funded And Affordable: Should Public Transit Be Free?

The New York City subway system at rush hour.
The New York City subway system at rush hour.

In 2019, about 53,000 people in New York were issued court summonses for fare evasion. A year later, the city announced that transit police would crack down on those who didn’t swipe their fare card to get into the subway.

Now, after reported efforts by the state government to delay the release of fare evasion enforcement data, the state attorney general launched an investigation into allegations that the crackdown targeted communities of color in New York City.

New York City commuters are not happy about the increased police presence in their subway stations, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that fare evasion is costing the city millions.

And New Yorkers aren’t alone in trying to find a balance between keeping systems funded and keeping them affordable for all users. The city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, instituted a trial fare-free transportation program for the next two years.

Is it time to rethink who and how much we charge people for public transportation? How are cities and towns across the country addressing these issues?

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

Emmanuel Johnson