People who get aboard city buses planning to beat the fare would be advised not to try that in Staten Island, as some of their fellow riders may be undercover cops cracking down on the practice. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.
On the S44 on Staten Island Thursday, a woman entered without paying her fare. Her reason?
"I don't feel like paying," she said.
She may want to think twice about doing that in the future, as one of the passengers on her Staten Island bus may be an undercover police officer.
And the officer won't just be handing out tickets to fare-jumpers.
"They are arrested and put through the process," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan. "They may spend an evening in jail."
Sources said the fare-beating crackdown started in earnest about a month ago after a spike in robberies of electronics on buses.
Since the beginning of the year, sources said cops have arrested more than 50 fare-beaters on Staten Island, compared to only a handful of arrests in the borough for that offense over the last 10 years.
One man was on his way to Rikers Island after cops grabbed him for alleged fare evasion and found he had an open case for robbery.
Police would not comment on the program.
Some question using police resources for what might be considered relatively minor offenses but Donovan stood by the program.
"You solve big problems by paying attention to the little ones and you're preventing bigger ones from happening in the future," he said.
The crackdown is also putting at least a small dent in a big financial drain on the MTA.
"I estimate it to be in the tens of millions if not the hundreds of millions of dollars," said MTA board member Allen Cappelli. "It's a serious amount of money that has caused service in the region and the city to be cut."
The MTA said it's working to get a better estimate of the problem and will then work with police on a citywide plan. It's already getting a thumbs up from those on the front lines, as drivers are thrilled that undercover cops are riding their buses.
"The word is getting around and it's calming things down now," said bus operator Frank Green. "It's the best thing that ever happened to Staten Island, I'll tell you really, for me and the passengers."