The idea behind the new ticket gates was to give subway users easier access to the station.
But this is not easy.
“We’re learning. And I’m learning with our customers,” said Kemuel Arroyo, MTA’s chief accessibility officer and senior advisor to the MTA chairman.
He acknowledged that an unintended downside to the new high-tech sensor gates now in use at the MTA’s four transit hubs is that many riders are finding ways to avoid paying the fares. Multiple people can pass on her single fare by cramming into the space behind the person in front, also known as a “shoulder carriage.” News4 saw a number of such acts taking place at Sutphin Boulevard/Jamaica Station during the day.
“The very observation you are alluding to, we will stop all the bad behavior we see!” Arroyo said.
Arroyo is the quarterback of a new $700 million pilot program that includes high-tech entry gates at JFK and Sutphin Streets in Queens, Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Penn Station in Manhattan, and Astoria Boulevard in Queens. Why those stations? These are all connections to major transportation hubs. Additionally, since many passengers bring large suitcases with them, the new ticket gates have been widened to allow passengers with luggage to pass through smoothly. And despite the devastating scene, the MTA says the gates are working well so far.
“We’ve seen a 20% increase in the number of paying passengers at this station,” Arroyo said of Sutphin Gate, which is frequently used by passengers arriving from JFK Airport. In the past, many people with luggage stayed by the emergency gate, waited for it to open, and then jumped in for free when it opened. Now even more people are paying.
What about the piggyback problem?
“We wanted to know how customers use these gates, for better or for worse,” Arroyo said.
The pilot comes months after a special commission found the MTA lost $500 million to fare evaders in 2021 and $690 million in 2022. Increased by 38%.
What was the panel’s main finding? “The financial losses caused by fare and fee evasion are staggering.”
Arroyo said that to truly improve fare accounting, we need fare gates that aren’t yet on the market. After all, the MTA has 473 subway stations. And they put $25 billion into him to restructure how ordinary equestrians access the system. There is currently an RFI (Request for Information) for him regarding best practices to resolve the issue.
“We will design a New York gate that will combat fare evasion,” Arroyo said.