Fare evasion in the US isn’t just about saving money

  When traveling in the United States, in addition to recommending delicious restaurants and interesting places to me, the Chinese students I met also reminded me: Do not try to evade fares easily.
  The reason why some people want to evade fares is very simple, that is, the fares are expensive. Taking the New York subway fare as an example, the uniform one-way fare is 2.75 US dollars, and a round-trip is 5.5 US dollars. If you take the round-trip subway once a day, it will cost about 160 US dollars a month, which is more than 1,000 yuan in RMB. For students from developing countries who are not wealthy, it is obviously not a small expense, and for the local poor, there is also pressure.
  In addition, the “technical content” of fare evasion in the United States is very low, or even nonexistent, which makes it easier for people to “fantasy” about fare evasion. The New York subway implements card-swiping at the gates to enter the station, but there is almost no staff supervision inside and outside the gates. Many local young people can easily cross the low gates and evade fares by jumping. And some passengers with inconvenient legs and feet will choose to stick close to the person who swiped the card in front and swipe through the gate.
  In addition to these somewhat technical content, there are also some unrestricted fare evasion behaviors. When the crowd is crowded, people often do not want to queue up to pass through the gate, but directly open the gate with the alarm bell sign next to the gate to exit the station quickly, probably because it is already old, the alarm door almost never rings, and passengers outside the station It will also take the opportunity to swagger “free” pit stops.
  Occasionally there are subway workers at the turnstiles, but people still fear fare evasion for the simple reason that these workers turn a blind eye, because it’s none of their business. In the United States, it is the duty of the police to stop fare evasion. As long as there are no police around, fare evasion becomes almost costless.
  In such a loose ticket evasion environment, it is indeed difficult for people to honestly buy tickets. According to statistics, more than 200,000 people in New York evade fares to take the subway every year.
  Li Kai, an international student, told me that the New York subway is not really unsupervised. Although there are no resident supervisors, the police usually patrol and inspect each station from time to time. . According to New York State law, fare evasion is a crime of “stealing valuable services” and will be recorded in the personal integrity system, which will affect the admission, employment, housing, etc. of fare evaders. After graduating from the United States, some international students interviewed for many jobs were rejected. Later, they learned that the fare evasion during school was recorded in the personal integrity system.
  Even so, there are still plenty of people willing to take risks. One of the reasons is “poor”. Low-income groups place far less emphasis on their own integrity records than the wealthy. In their view, saving money in the short term is more practical than long-term integrity records.
  In addition to saving money, there is an unexpected reason for fare evasion – deliberately opposing the government. In the eyes of these passengers, the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is so large that it is inherently unfair for the rich and the poor to buy tickets at the same price. They also argue that taxpayers have already paid for the country’s infrastructure and should not pay extra for transportation, and if they have to, they should overcharge the rich. On November 1, 2019, the New York police beat up a boy who is said to be only 15 years old in the process of law enforcement in the subway, triggering a large number of local people to demonstrate in the subway station. The slogans of “free transportation” and “go to your $2.75 fare” also appeared, showing that the locals have been grumbling about subway fares for a long time.
  In addition to actively evading fares, there are also passengers who are “forced” to evade fares. As we all know, New York subway facilities are aging and lack of maintenance. A Chinese who just moved to New York told me that when he recharged his transportation card, he encountered a broken recharge machine in the subway station and could not recharge. He either turned over or walked through the alarm door. , or honestly walk one more stop and go to the next subway exit to recharge and take the subway. And apparently, for New Yorkers, where time is money, few are willing to take the time to make an extra stop. In desperation, he had no choice but to “do as the locals do”.
  In addition to subway stations, American train stations are also hardest hit by fare evasion. Train tickets in the United States are also not cheap. Before getting on the train, you can buy tickets by yourself on the platform or on your mobile phone. No one checks the ticket when you get on the train, and no one stops you when you get off the train. If you don’t buy a ticket, no one will know about it. Tickets may be randomly checked by flight attendants on the way, but the probability is extremely low. I have taken many trains in the United States, and I have only been checked once for my ticket. When I was checked, I was actually excited, and I felt that I finally didn’t buy a ticket for nothing. Li Kai told me that his classmates have calculated that they will only be checked once after taking the train more than ten times. If they are checked, even if they are fined, the fare is likely to be higher than the fine. People who don’t care much about their personal credit records are more prone to fare evasion.
  I also asked a local person if he would evade the ticket, and he asked me in return, “Why do you want to evade the ticket? This is wrong!” For local people with a strong sense of morality, even if no one checks the ticket, it will not violate morality and law. Most Americans attach great importance to their own integrity, and once there is a stain, they may ruin their lifetime prospects by saving a few dollars. It is out of the local society’s trust in people’s morality that ticket checking has become optional. Since only a few people evade fares, there is no need for the government to spend so much taxpayer money to hire too many police officers to catch fare evasion.
  But I’m still curious, if I’m really caught by the police, how should I face it? According to the experience summed up by many people, even if they are caught by the police, they will not necessarily be punished or have a bad record. Those who evade fares can make up various reasons, as long as the police can be convinced, for example: I forgot my traffic card. ! I am a poor student and have no money to buy tickets! …as long as you’re lucky, usually the police will let you go. But if you really try, who dares to say that your luck is really good?