This offered Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz a ready-made excuse for his tepid support of the proposed B44 Select Bus service on Nostrand Avenue:
I’m not fighting it, I’m open to it, but I am just concerned that the system is set up in a way that it is easy for those that want to use the bus not to pay a thing and we lose even more money for the MTA.
If you've spent any time in Paris, you know what it means to take fare control seriously. In Paris, transit passengers are required to have a ticket or pass on them at all times. There are dedicated teams of "contrôleurs" who travel around the city on foot and by transit, setting up checkpoints at bends in subway corridors. On buses and commuter trains, they board simultaneously at the front and rear to cut off the possibility of escape. They work as the bus moves and get off when they've checked everyone.
By contrast, the Select Bus enforcement teams do not actually ride the bus. In some bizarre scenario out of CHiPs, the control teams drive up to the bus in an SUV, board it and check everyone's receipts, then get back in their vehicle and drive away. While this is happening, the bus just sits there, so everyone's trip is delayed by at least five minutes.
Of course this undercuts any attempt to market the Select buses as an alternative to a private car. But worse, if there are too many of these sweeps, it would wipe out the time advantage over traditional bus service. Jaccarino quotes a number of people who are legitimately angry that other people are riding for free while they pay, and have to futz with the validation receipts. But they assign vague blame to "the MTA" - a classic "bad MTA" story - instead of looking at what exactly the MTA is doing wrong: accommodating enforcement personnel who think they're too good to ride the bus.
The News could actually do a great service by printing a series on the myriad ways that New York City residents and taxpayers lose time and money by accommodating law enforcement personnel who think they're too good to ride transit. It would be on a par with their Boulevard of Death series, and a tremendous improvement over the simplistic "Queens Parking Crunch" series. But I'm not holding my breath; who reads the News, after all?
If the News is able to drum up enough outrage to bring about effective fare collection, great! More revenue is a good thing. But it is not worth adding more delays to everyone's trip and undermining the goals of Select Bus Service.