This year, the fare for New York City subways increased to $2.75. Along with the increase in fare, Gov. Andrew Cuomo committed 500 new MTA police officers to patrol train stations and introduced a new campaign against fare evasion.
During demonstrations against the increase in fare, longstanding racial and class tensions reached a breaking point when a 19-year-old was pulled from his seat, thrown onto the floor of the subway car and arrested. Police officers explained the arrest to onlookers, "He did not pay his fare." Later police said that they were responding to a report that the teen had a gun; this report wasn’t true, he was unarmed.
This case is unfortunately not unique. Photos of police violence in the New York subway went viral after police officers tased and hand-cuffed a young man. In another incident, police officers punched teenagers in the face on a subway platform, which social media commentators said was sparked by fare evasion.
It’s clear that the increased presence of police officers in stations isn’t resulting in the peace or the increased fare revenue that Cuomo was intending.
Unlike NYC, Chapel Hill transit is fare-free, and we have the second-largest transit system in North Carolina. One of our student fees goes toward maintaining the system without having to implement a fare, which is an example of progressive wealth redistribution policy done right — in short, it's awesome.