In a weekend segment, “Inside Edition” chose to highlight one issue that doesn’t typically make it onto residents’ lists of top complaints: so-called “fare beaters.” The term refers to people, often poor people or teens, who jump over subway turnstiles instead of paying $2.75 for a ride.
The segment featured reporter Lisa Guerrero interviewing ― or harassing, depending on your outlook ― various New Yorkers who apparently did not swipe their MetroCards.
Many Twitter users were less than impressed with her work. Some pointed to an August 2017 report indicating the MTA, which oversees the city’s subway system, had sat on a whopping $80 million from unused MetroCards. Others simply asked why the long-running CBS program thought it was necessary to vilify people who could not pay the fare ― instead of turning a critical eye on systemic problems that spur inequity.
“Do Wall Street now,” said one person.
Skipping out on subway fare is categorized as a misdemeanor in New York, punishable by up to one year in jail. But the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced in June 2017 that it would no longer criminally prosecute such cases except in rare circumstances. That announcement came as the long-held law enforcement strategy known as “broken windows” policing faced heavy criticism in the city. (“Broken windows” refers to a policy of focusing on low-level crimes in order to prevent more serious ones, but there’s little evidence it works.)
“Inside Edition” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Guerrero, however, defended her segment in a tweet.
“[W]hy should honest, WORKING CLASS New Yorkers pay to use the system while others cheat?” she wrote when asked why she was harassing subway riders.
Many on Twitter disagreed with Guerrero’s outlook: