February 24, 2017

If 90,000 jump the subway turnstile in NYC every year and 2,000 are arrested for it in one month — is there too much law enforcement or too little.

This article at DNAinfo (linked from a linky page in the NYT) highlights the opinion of a transit authority board member, David Jones, whose objections are 5-fold:

1. Triviality. It's a mere "quality of life problem" that shouldn't preoccupy the police.

2. Poverty. It's a crime people commit because they're insufficiently rich. So it's "like Victor Hugo, 'Les Miserables,' persecuting people for stealing bread." And then the punishment is to collect a fine, but these are "people who have already indicated they don’t have money."

3. Race. Jones either knows or imagines that there is a disparate racial impact: "I’m also worried that if you start to look at the demographics, who’s interfacing with the criminal justice system on this, it’s generally young people, blacks and Latinos."

4. Illegal immigration. It will lead to deportations. "Even before the Trump victory, I would’ve been concerned because I don’t want young people having an interaction with the criminal justice system that doesn’t involve some very serious activity.... Now it’s heightened — we just don’t want to give more ammunition and more reason to deport people who have engaged with us because of poverty."

5. Sneakiness. The NYPD uses plainclothes officers to catch people in the act. Why don't they just have "a big sign there and a policeman under the sign"? Then that turnstile wouldn't be luring impulsive youngsters to leap.

59 comments:

mockturtle said...

I guess Air Jordans make jumping the turnstile easier. Yeah, poverty.

Nonapod said...

Is allowing people free rides only if they're fast and nimble enough to evade capture discriminatory against slow people, the aged, and the handicapped?

David said...

Does it occur to him that reducing enforcement will increase noncompliance?

Nooooo.

Michael K said...

One of those "Young People" shot and killed a policemen and his cousin after being released from prison early but his tattoos don't show his kind heart or his poverty,

dda6ga dda6ga said...

"We is entitled"

Fernandinande said...

Undocumented Riders.

Just trying to make a better life.

Deserve compassion.

Tim said...

Transportation should be free to the people! Haters!!! Why do you oligarchs hate the people!?

Triangle Man said...

This is written by someone who doesn't know anything about Snake Plissken.

tcrosse said...

Subway turnstiles suppress the rights of women, minorities, and the LGBT community.

Fernandinande said...

Tim said...
Why do you oligarchs hate the people!?


Because the people suck.

Known Unknown said...

"One of those "Young People" shot and killed a policemen and his cousin after being released from prison early but his tattoos don't show his kind heart or his poverty,"

Maybe it's because of a lack of turnstiles to jump in Los Angeles that he turned to greater crime. ; )

Known Unknown said...

Solution is simple: Rings of fire suspended above the turnstiles. If you can jump through that, you deserve a free ride.

William said...

What are the odds a turnstile jumper will break another rule or law in the course of his journey?.......Subway riders are in a confined and vulnerable space. For the most part, they're no more wealthy nor privileged than the fare beaters. Some effort should be made to lessen their sense of vulnerability. They deserve a safe space even more than a minorityYale undergraduate.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Plainclothesmen are "sneaky"? I'd say jumping the turnstile is sneaky. But that's just me.

"A mere quality of life problem." You lost me with "mere," sir. Quality of life is what policing is about, at least until it escalates to existence of life (i.e., murder).

Look, almost always the people cheating the city in this way could pay, but don't want to. Just as the people entering MUNI (SF) buses from the rear doors could pay, but don't want to. This isn't a poverty thing, and it isn't a racial thing, or a "poor undocumented immigrant" thing, except that the behavior itself is more acceptable to some racial groups than to others.

buwaya said...

The same people do exactly the same thing in San Francisco and Oakland, on BART and city buses, and have done so for 30 years.
Just yesterday four black boys ahead of me snuck through an emergency exit to avoid the BART turnstile.
If one is black and reasonably agile, it seems, transit fares are optional.

Amexpat said...

Why not make the turnstiles higher?

Fernandinande said...

Stop!
He who would cross the Turnstile of Death
Must answer me
These questions three
Ere the subway car he see.

Alexander said...

In Japan, where the disease of multiculturalism has not sufficiently spread and the people are of a quality that the native society is high-trust, the gates are default 'open'*. Much better flow of traffic.

But this is one of those perks you can only have when people are going to pay like they're supposed to; like being able to leave your car running in the street, or being able to shop in a store even if the clerk is away for an hour.

*That's not to say the gate isn't being watched though, nor do you want to be the guy who crime is not 'mere quality of life', but destroying the high-cohesion that allows the society to function.

In the west, we have to pay the diversity tax, both in the time we have to spend standing around waiting for the turnstile to reopen, and the extra tacked onto to the actual fee to make up for the deadweight.

Fernandinande said...

buwaya said...
If one is black and reasonably agile, it seems, transit fares are optional.


I worked with a guy recently off the boat from China who freaked out when he forgot to buy a light-rail ticket - crossed his wrists in front of himself, hung his head and said "shame".

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Isn't this a great example of the broken windows dynamic?

Tolerating turnstyle jumping sends the message that if your swagger is strong enough you don't have to respect the rules and the social contract. I don't want that.

mockturtle said...

Misplaced, you are right. This is a perfect example. Bring back Rudy!

Thorley Winston said...

The only legitimate objection I see to using the police to enforce this law is they probably could be put to better use dealing with other crimes. As a compromise I would suggest that enforcement of the law against jumping the subway turnstile be delegated to the tender mercy all of those who paid.

Fernandinande said...

Ask me your questions, Turnstilekeeper. I am not afraid.

Turnstilekeeper: What...is your name?

Sir Fernandinande of Blogspot.

Turnstilekeeper: What...is your quest?

To kill some time until it warms up a bit outside.

Turnstilekeeper: What...is your favorite color?

That racis'!

DanTheMan said...

>>these are "people who have already indicated they don’t have money."

Armed robbers also "indicate" that they don't have money.

Psota said...

I guess we've all forgotten that cracking down on turnstile jumpers was the original "broken windows" enforcement target during the Giuliani administration in NYC.

Back then, cracking down on the turnstile jumpers didn't just reduce the oppressive air of criminality in the subways. The NYPD were able to catch a lot of guys who were on the lam, carrying weapons, etc.

Crazy Jane said...

People who play by the rules are offended when others get away with breaking the rules. It makes compliant people feel like suckers.

In a culture with shared values, people would call out the cheats and shame them. Shame is a very effective deterrent for minor matters. But we don't have that kind of culture, and some of those turnstile jumpers are scary.

As a general principle, governments should not make laws that its agents are unwilling to enforce.

Matthew Sablan said...

"People who play by the rules are offended when others get away with breaking the rules."

-- I am always annoyed when people push to get breaks for things like student loans they haven't paid back, etc.

I paid mine off, aggressively and early. I could've paid on time or with deferment, etc., etc. But I didn't; if we get loan forgiveness, do I just have to suck up the thousands of dollars I already paid while people who were less responsible/gamed the system get a free pass? I could have done a lot with thousands of dollars.

Francisco D said...

That's crazy Jane.

You mean laws are meant to be uniformly enforced?

That is so racist, classist, hetero-normative, etc.

The enlightened few should make those decisions.

/sarc

Bay Area Guy said...

The soft bigotry of low expectations...........

Jay Elink said...

Why the hell doesn't NYC design turnstiles that can't be jumped over?

Otto said...

Ann the nihilist asking the important questions.Next.

damikesc said...

1. Triviality. It's a mere "quality of life problem" that shouldn't preoccupy the police.

In theory, yes. But if you ignore the "small things", then what qualifies as a "small thing" grows unabated. In cleaning up NYC, one of Giuliani's first acts was to work on ending aggressive pan-handling, which was also a "quality of life" problem.

But you cannot fix the big issues if you won't address the small ones.

2. Poverty. It's a crime people commit because they're insufficiently rich. So it's "like Victor Hugo, 'Les Miserables,' persecuting people for stealing bread." And then the punishment is to collect a fine, but these are "people who have already indicated they don’t have money."

AND?

The state cannot afford to have them ride for free --- if they could, they'd not be charging fares in the first place.

It's easy to be flippant when it's not all your money on the line.

3. Race. Jones either knows or imagines that there is a disparate racial impact: "I’m also worried that if you start to look at the demographics, who’s interfacing with the criminal justice system on this, it’s generally young people, blacks and Latinos."

Casual racism masquerading as concern of racism. Odds are, a lot of white kids do it also.

4. Illegal immigration. It will lead to deportations. "Even before the Trump victory, I would’ve been concerned because I don’t want young people having an interaction with the criminal justice system that doesn’t involve some very serious activity.... Now it’s heightened — we just don’t want to give more ammunition and more reason to deport people who have engaged with us because of poverty."

They've already broken laws (hence, them being illegals). Why do you want to keep people around who CONTINUE to break laws? How is that a benefit to society? This whole mentality about law-abiding illegals is infuriating. They broke several laws to be here. Many have stolen SSN, so they've broken more laws.

It's always "no big deal" unless it impacts you personally. Would the writer be so OK with it if an illegal stole his SSN and ruined his credit?

5. Sneakiness. The NYPD uses plainclothes officers to catch people in the act. Why don't they just have "a big sign there and a policeman under the sign"? Then that turnstile wouldn't be luring impulsive youngsters to leap.

This is some hard-core dumb. The police aren't ENCOURAGING the behavior (that'd be entrapment). They are letting you break the law and then penalizing you for it. How are the cops the bad guys?

Andrew Koenig said...

Once upon a time I rode a Swedish commuter train. You buy your ticket from a little machine on the platform and get on the train. No turnstiles.

However...Every so often, at random, a couple of cops get on the train, and then, after the doors close, they lock the doors connecting the car to its neighbors and inspect everyone's ticket. And if for any reason whatsoever you don't have a ticket to show them, it's a 10,000-kroner fine (about $1,100 at today's exchange rates).

Same thing in Munich when I was there, but there the penalty involved jail time.

Balfegor said...

"If 90,000 jump the subway turnstile in NYC every year and 2,000 are arrested for it in one month — is there too much law enforcement or too little."

If those statistics are accurate, it's 24,000 out of the 90,000, or over 25% of violators get caught, which seems like a a remarkably high clearance rate for a crime like this. But having lived in New York, I can well imagine why they think they need this kind of enforcement. They are, at heart, a savage and lawless folk, and without this kind of constant vigilance from the police no one would pay anything -- everyone would jump the turnstile. You have only to look at New Yorkers' attitudes towards walk signs to see that this is true: pedestrians have absolutely no regard for traffic signals. If they think they can make it across without getting hit by a vehicle, they scurry right on through.

FullMoon said...

Andrew Koenig said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Once upon a time I rode a Swedish commuter train. You buy your ticket from a little machine on the platform and get on the train. No turnstiles.

However...Every so often, at random, a couple of cops get on the train, and then, after the doors close, they lock the doors connecting the car to its neighbors and inspect everyone's ticket. And if for any reason whatsoever you don't have a ticket to show them, it's a 10,000-kroner fine (about $1,100 at today's exchange rates).


Have a "no right turn between six and 9 a.m." in the neighborhood. Monday,saw eight motorcycle cops lined up, taking turns catching violators. Didn't realize we had that many mc cops in the city.

Bill R said...

People forget what a hellhole NYC was before Giuliani cracked down on just this sort of crime. I went to NY often in the '70's. You would be accosted and asked to buy drugs right in Grand Central Station. Middle class people started jumping turnstiles too. Why should they be the only ones to pay? The city had a sickening feeling of menace that was impossible to ignore.

In the South Bronx, rent control and rampant crime made it impossible to maintain rental housing. One by one, the buildings were burnt out. I remember taking the train to Albany. The Bronx looked like Berlin after the war.

I was walking by Macy's. Many of the nearbv shops were boarded up and the streets mostly deserted. A homeless man came out of an alley, pulled out his penis, and urinated into the gutter, right on 34th St. A New York friend commented. "Hey, he was a gentleman and a scholar, he took the trouble to walk the curb"

Post Giuliani, it was like the sun came out. Shuttered stores re-opened. The streets were crowded and safe. The fires stopped. It was a whole new world.

SukieTawdry said...

When William Bratton's transit police started arresting turnstile jumpers, subway crime dropped significantly. Seems muggers, taggers and other assorted troublemakers don't like paying fares.

James Graham said...

The people in charge of the New York subway system have never released official videos of an assault or a murder occurring in the subway.

Why not?

Because they have no cameras placed where they could record such crimes. Not on the platforms or the mezzanines and not in the cars.

https://hiddenhomicides.blogspot.com/2014/10/no-cameras-no-problem.html

The New York Times noticed:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/nyregion/30subway.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fT%2fTransit%20Systems


Unlike other systems around the world which are loaded with cameras.

Chicago:

https://hiddenhomicides.blogspot.com/2016/05/twenty-three-thousand-surveillance.html

Moscow:

https://hiddenhomicides.blogspot.com/2015/03/subway-shootings-moscow-and-new-york.html

Philadelphia:

https://hiddenhomicides.blogspot.com/2015/04/moscow-philadelphia-and-washington-dc.html


But New York's famed NYPD does have cameras at turnstiles where they can catch fare-beaters.

MaxedOutMama said...

Well, of course, if they don't enforce the collection of fares, increasingly fewer people are going to pay them. This will mean that fares have to be raised, thus afflicting the elderly or disabled who are not capable of jumping turnstiles. Or just the extremely law-abiding.

This is like Detroit not turning off the water until people owed $6,000, and couldn't possibly pay the freight. It was never a kindness.

I have rarely heard a stupider comment by a public official, and I think anyone who thought about it would know why it is stupid. The poorer a person is, the more important reliable and cheap public transportation becomes. Preserving the basic utilities in a metropolis is always the kindest thing one can do.

Wealthier people don't need the subways. It's the average dude/dudette who does, but the subways cost money to run.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Maxed out mama,
"but the subways cost money to run"

Not if they just make them free. Like health care.

Karen said...

When I first read the headline of Ann's post, I thought she was trying to get us to consider illegal immigration and the spotty enforcement of such .

Sigivald said...

I find it very difficult to believe that "can't pay" is the reason most people decide to save $2.75 (or a $115 monthly, with half off for old or disabled people).

(That's within 15% of Portland's light rail fees.)

They might prefer a free ride, but that's another matter.

rehajm said...

Jay has it right. Make it harder to cheat the system and you reduce cheaters and get any benefits of the broken windows theory for free.

Yancey Ward said...

On why the turnstiles aren't designed better:

I would wager this is a safety issue- if it is hard to get into the subway station, it will be multiple times more difficult to get out when you need to.

All of DNAinfo's points are bad from multiple points of view- even point number 5. If you aren't going to enforce the law on paying, then you may as well not make anyone pay because that is where it will eventually end up.

SayAahh said...

That is why Hillary wears pantsuits. She can jump in lieu of trying to figure out how to swipe her subway card

BDNYC said...

The few times I've jumped the turnstile, it was because the stupid reader kept giving me an error message and telling me to swipe again, until finally it says my card was just used (with a monthly pass you have to wait about 20 minutes before you can use it again). Basically, the subway system "stole" a ride from me, and rather than lose 20 minutes of my time, I jump the turnstile. I figure if I get caught I can explain my way out of it. No doubt because I'm a white man overflowing with privilege.

exiledonmainstreet said...


"Post Giuliani, it was like the sun came out. Shuttered stores re-opened. The streets were crowded and safe. The fires stopped. It was a whole new world."

After Rudy was elected, I actually read articles by New Yorkers decrying the cleanup because he felt he made NY less edgy and cool. Cleaning up Times Square, was, according to some writers, akin to turning the place into Boise.

Well, DeBlasio is doing his best to bring back the edginess of New York. I imagine that the punk rockers who found the place wonderfully nihilistic back in the late '70's might feel differently now that they are in their 50's and '60's.

Seeing Red said...

That's a hell of a lot of revenue to forego.

Entitlement.

Seeing Red said...

Balfagor, it's called bluff and run.


Have done it many times myself.

mockturtle said...

Bay Area Guy aptly states:
The soft bigotry of low expectations....

Peter said...

If you're worried about the ability of the poor poor to afford to use the subway then perhaps you provide an income-based reduced or free fare program. Then again, if you assert that people are jumping the turnstiles because they can't afford to pay, perhaps you owe it to those who do pay to at least find out how accurate your assumption is.

But if you think paying the fare is (or should be) optional then remove the turnstiles and replace them with tip jars.


But why would you insist paying the fare is not optional and then argue that you're not really going to do much to deter turnstile-jumping? There's surely some tipping point where, if you see everyone else getting in for free, you're going to figure you'd be a complete sucker to pay.


And if you do agree that there's far too much turnstile-jumping, the obvious ways to reduce it are to (1) increase the probability of getting caught, and/or (2) increase the harshness of the penalty.

Although the "somebody's gotta pay" argument is somewhat weak, as fares only pay something like half the operating cost (and none of the maintenance and capital-improvement costs). Also, how good a deal you're getting for your fare depends on how far you're riding, as the New York subway (like most older subways) costs the same no matter when or how far you're riding.

Ann Althouse said...

I'd like to see some analysis of the proposal to make the subway free. Add a tax to other forms of transportation and save all the money that's spent collecting fares and catching evaders.

buwaya said...

"I'd like to see some analysis of the proposal to make the subway free."

Most subway/public transit systems depend mainly on taxation, not fares.
IIRC the fares are often there just as a filter to prevent overuse/abuse of the system.
BART for instance has a nasty problem of homeless persons riding the cars to the ends of the system and back, as a mobile dormitory.

buwaya said...

"If you're worried about the ability of the poor poor to afford to use the subway then perhaps you provide an income-based reduced or free fare program."

These exist. If you are poor and a student in SF you can get a pass and ride free.

David in Cal said...

Walls are immoral. They should take down the subway walls, so nobody has to jump the turnstyle. At least, that would a consistent with what my liberal cousins post on Facebook

tim maguire said...

I jumped the turnstile a few times.

Once because I went on the platform on my way to work, realized I'd forgotten something, ran home to get it, and ran back, but my metrocard wouldn't work because it hadn't been 18 minutes since the last time I used it and it only works once every 18 minutes. (One time I got on the wrong train, rode to another borrough, got off, walked to a nearby station where the right train stops, but it hadn't been 18 minutes so I had to wait and a train went by--I couldn't jump because that station had the revolving door style gate.)

Another time it was late at night and the train pulled in but I was stuck outside because the reader wouldn't register my card and if I kept swiping the train would pull away and it might be another 20 mnutes before the next one came along. And so I jumped it.

That sort of thing has happened enough times that I don't feel strongly about cracking down on fair beaters.

harryo said...

I took a Subway once. It had three kinds of meat, and two kinds of cheese.

Kirk Parker said...

I have just two words to say to this idiot board member:

Cheri Blair.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/jan/11/cherieblair.politics

Kirk Parker said...

Oh, how did I miss this:

"Add a tax to other forms of transportation"

Talk about the epitome of regressive progressive thinking! Exactly what every public system needs: more subsidies, more hiding of the true cost, more taxing of people doing X to pay for Y...