Commuter Tip: Jumping the Subway Turnstile Saves Money

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Even when you factor in the likelihood of getting caught and being hit with fines, it makes economic sense to jump the subway turnstile rather than pay the fare like a good law-abiding citizen. Who is spreading such an idea? Believe it or not, New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. In a new study covered by the Daily News, MTA analysts reveal that fare beaters hopped into subway trains without paying 18.5 million times in 2009. Meanwhile, only 120,000 summonses were issued for turnstile jumping, and on average, offenders would wind up being fined $100 every 6 to 13 weeks.

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Therefore, per the Daily News:

Even with the fine, that was cheaper than buying a series of $27 weekly MetroCard passes, which adds up to $162 in a six-week span, the report said. After paying the summons, a fare-beater would save at least $62.

That’s a savings of over $500 a year, which might prod a morally flexible but otherwise upstanding citizen to consider turning to the dark side. MetroCards have since gone up to $29 a week, meaning that jumping the turnstile saves even more money nowadays.

Why would the MTA, of all organizations, be publishing info that might encourage lawbreaking—specifically, lawbreaking that would decrease its revenues? The report’s authors are hoping that the news will lead the city to arrest more offenders and/or introduce stiffer penalties for jumping the turnstile.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.