De Blasio’s Zeal for Fare Enforcement Doesn’t Extend to People Who Steal Street Space to Park Illegally

The mayor says repeat turnstile jumpers should be arrested to prevent widespread fare evasion. But you can steal curb space or abuse a parking placard repeatedly and never go to jail.

Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office
Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office

Speaking on WNYC this morning, Mayor de Blasio continued to object to Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s decision to scale back criminal prosecutions of fare evasion.

Despite statistics showing that people of color account for around 90 percent of turnstile jumping arrests, which needlessly entangle people in the criminal justice system, the mayor said criminal summonses for repeat offenders — not just civil fines — are necessary to ensure compliance with the fare.

“I understand if you’ve got a singular offense, I don’t want to see people arrested for that,” de Blasio said. “What I’m concerned about is if you’ve got people able to consistently evade fares with no meaningful sanction. If there is not [an] arrest somewhere in the equation if there is consistent fare-beating, then we don’t have clear enough consequences, and people will do it more and more.”

If this is the truly mayor’s approach to “theft of services,” the least he could do is apply it evenly. For instance, people who rack up multiple parking tickets should be hauled away in cuffs under the mayor’s logic. They’re repeatedly stealing curb space and if we don’t have clear enough consequences, people will do it more and more.

But the mayor’s zeal for criminalizing the failure to pay for public services doesn’t extend to car owners who double park or overstay their meter time. Nor has the mayor suggested jailing repeated parking placard abusers.

In May, de Blasio announced plans to get tough on the widespread abuse of government-issued parking placards, but evidence suggests the “crackdown” has been all bluster and few results.

The @placardabuse Twitter account continues to post photos of repeat abusers who block fire hydrants, crosswalks, bus stops, bike lanes — you name it — in the same location, with the same (often fraudulent) placard, over and over and over again:

This rampant illegal parking not only poses clear safety risks and creates traffic dysfunction, it engenders a culture of lawlessness among people who are supposed to serve the public. And it’s visible on streets all over the city.

So when will de Blasio start insisting that repeat placard abusers go to jail?

  • jr195

    I’m curious as to why you chose to make this a racial issue. I can’t stand this mayor, but his argument about repeat offenders needing punishment has nothing to do with race.

    Notice the DNAinfo article linked does not mention the races of the people summonsed but not arrested, or who fare evade but are not caught by the police. The implication seems to be that black and Latino people are being arrested because of their race; but without those other demographics, there’s no evidence of it. Or, are you suggesting that because most people who are arrested happen to be of these demographics, arrest should not be the punishment for this crime, but it might otherwise be ok? Regardless, what is the connection between the suitable punishment for a given crime and the demographics of the poeple who end up being caught doing it?

  • Anonymous

    The connection is that our supposedly liberal mayor who ran on a platform of racial equality and reducing stop-and-frisk supports a policy that has a clear racial bias.

  • reasonableexplanation

    What are the penalties for unpaid parking tickets? As far as i understood it ranged from license suspensions to a bench warrant out for your arrest, but I’m honestly not sure…

    That’s definitely the penalty for moving violations…

  • Kwyjibo

    As reported this week, when a suburbanite is caught skipping the LIRR fare, he pays a fine and fills out an IOU.

    When a city subway rider is caught skipping the fare, he spends a night in jail and gets a criminal charge on his record.

    Streetsblog didn’t choose to make it a racial issue. It is a racial issue.

  • A bad faith argument and irrelevant to this comparison. People are going to jail for fare evasion, period. The apples-to-apples comparison scenario would be criminal arrests for parking violations, not failure to pay fines for parking violations.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Weren’t folks only going to jail if they had outstanding warrants (after being detained for fare evasion?) Or were people with otherwise clean records being booked for jumping the turnstile?

  • reasonableexplanation

    There are plenty of suburban towns with populations that are mostly POC that take commuter rail into the city… so… I don’t see what you’re getting at? Aren’t those folks also told to pay a file/fill out an IOU?

  • Larry Littlefield

    I agree with the Mayor on fare enforcement.

    And with Streetsblog on motor vehicle enforcement.

    Fare evasion is way down since Generation Greed was at the turnstile jumping age.

    But they are still driving.

  • Vooch

    Not for Marty Golden – he has 14 outstanding traffic warrants. And he killed a women, then paid the grieving family $750,000 hush money

    BdB and Marty are on the same team

  • bolwerk

    AIUI it’s entirely up to the cop whether he wants to charge you with an civil MTA rule violation or with a misdemeanor for being blacktheft of services, and both happen.

    But I think the point of parking enforcement is it’s not enforced against some people who have no merit for free parking besides just knowing somebody.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If Streetsblog fells so strongly on this issue, maybe it should start a campaign that tells people that if they feel themselves to be needy, they should just walk through the slam gates and not pay. And then if the MTA’s finances deteriorate further, blame Cuomo.

    Everyone gets to be a hero with regard the rich, evil MTA with its two sets of books.

    The Straphangers got those big fare cuts in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    The TWU fought “management” for the 2000 pension increases and having their small contributions to their own pensions returned to their members.

    The contractors fight and win their MTA factors.

    Giuliani and Pataki fight against the “waste, fraud and abuse” by cutting taxes — and cutting off tax support.

    The common future has no advocate, so everybody should grab a piece as fast as they can, before there is nothing left for them.

  • Frank Kotter

    Boy oh boy….

    I’m sure you have valid points to make. However, your obtuse and disingenous argumentation is really sleezy.