Undercover MBTA officers meandered around the entrances at Park Street station during rush hour Tuesday, keeping a keen eye on the gates.
By 7 p.m. last night, officers had handed out 36 tickets to people jetting through the gates without paying.
“Most of the people doing it are teenagers,” said Officer Juan Quiroz as he waited by Park Street’s unmanned Winter Street exit. “They know where the weak spots are. They think nobody will see them.”
In response to what MBTA police describe as a public call for stricter fare enforcement, transit officers are cracking down on riders who hop free rides.
MBTA police kicked off “Operation Fare Game” during rush hour Monday by citing 51 people they caught that night dodging fare at Downtown Crossing.
The $50 tickets were issued from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. by plain-clothes and uniformed officers who were staked out at every station entrance.
“We can’t be everywhere all the time, but we could be anywhere at any time,” said Superintendent Joseph O’Connor on the method of using plain clothes officers.
The primary method of evasion, O’Connor said, was “piggybacking,” when a person enters the gate immediately after someone else. Fare dodgers yesterday are also caught jumping over the gates and triggering the gates to open by reaching over and waving something in front of the motion detectors on the other side.
At today’s fare evasion stakeout, Metro witnessed most of the fare evaders using the “piggyback” method, swiftly slipping through the automated gates.
“Most of our riders are honest, hard working people. Those who evade fares make up a small percentage of our riders,” O’Connor said. “Going back to last fall we began to hear from our customers and riders through the meetings about the fare hikes. People have said that they’re paying for their passes, and they believe as we do, that everyone should be paying.”
MBTA Spokesman Joshua Robin said the amped up efforts to crack down on fare evasion have been in place across the transit system, particularly with “fare blitzes” on the Green Line.
A group calling itself “Boston Fare Strike” has recently protested the July 1 fare hikes, which increased the cost to ride the T by an average of 23 percent, by holding open gates for hundreds of people. The group has said it plans to hold more fare evasion demonstrations.
“The bottom line on those fare evasion activities is that they only hurt the system, and other riders, and frankly they are disrespectful to riders,” Robin said.