Most of us have done it. When we’re at the subway station with the kids in tow, they'll pop under the turnstile. In many cases, this is perfectly legal—children under a certain height get to ride the subway and hop on buses free of charge—but at what point are parents evading the law by refusing to pay their child’s fair share? We've investigated, and here's what we found:
According to MTA’s regulations, up to three children 44 inches tall and under can ride for free on subways and local buses when they’re accompanied by a fare-paying adult. Toddlers under two years of age can ride express buses for free if they sit on the adult’s lap.
For adult subway riders, jumping the turnstile has long been a petty crime that can result in jail time of up to a year, but a new policy in Manhattan will actually put an end to prosecuting the misdemeanor and no longer place offenders behind bars. The new rule, which kicked in this month, was developed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to curb the amount of cases for such minor offenses. Pix 11 reports that in 2016, approximately 10,000 people were arrested for jumping the turnstile in Manhattan alone. And up until this summer, police had arrested more than 8,600 people for fare evasion, with a disproportionate 89 percent being Black and Latino.
Those who are caught won’t get off totally scot-free, though. Instead, a civil summons will be given and the whole thing can be put behind the offender once he or she pays a fine or completes a diversion program. Prosecution will remain in place for those who pose a threat to public safety. It remains to be seen if the other boroughs will follow in Manhattan's footsteps.
Back to the parents/kids part of this discussion. For the most part, we don't expect adults to be stopped as their kinda-cutting-it-close–crew ducks the turnstiles. This kind of thing has been going on for as long as we can remember! But, to sum things up, try to be mindful of when you're beginning to break the rules, or you could end up getting fined.