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Is this a bus or a cash machine?

The MTA is busy turning the M15 Select Bus Service into a cash cow: A whopping 14,125 riders were issued fare-evasion tickets since the MTA launched the M15 SBS in October.

Talk about un-fare!

The MTA is busy turning the M15 Select Bus Service into a cash cow: A whopping 14,125 riders were issued fare-evasion tickets since the MTA launched the M15 SBS in October.

At $100 each, that means the MTA is charging riders $1.4 million worth of tickets on one bus route alone.

Manhattanite Alexander Barton is one of those 14,000. Barton, a 27 year-old accountant, boarded an SBS bus at 42nd St. and Second Ave. on Thursday. He wasn’t aware that the MTA’s new M15 SBS requires riders to pay before boarding and present a receipt to the driver.

Instead, Barton tried to swipe his monthly MetroCard — but was told by the bus driver the reader was merely “broken.” The driver never told Barton he was on a special SBS bus, he said.

“I was amazed the driver hadn’t said anything,” he said. Instead, a fellow passenger tried to explain to him how the bus worked, but it was still unclear.

When he got off at Houston Street, he was met with MTA police officers who slapped him and ten other riders each with a $100 ticket for fare evasion.

“The thing that extremely frustrates me is, I was totally unaware I’d done anything wrong,” said Barton.

Education the key: Advocate

EAST SIDE – Before the MTA expands SBS — a European-style pay-before-boarding — they need to better inform riders of how the system works, said transit advocate Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

“Clearly, education is an issue,” he says. “I can’t imagine issuing a million dollars’ worth of tickets in a country like Sweden, where they’ve had off-board fare collection for years.”

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