MTA Cracks Down on Ghost Plates and Toll Evasions That Cost NYS $12.5M Per Year

A joint task force composed of the MTA and law enforcement partners shared their efforts to control the 50 million people who use ghost plates, evade tolls, drive unlicensed, etc. each year.

| 09 Jul 2024 | 03:05

“This is about fairness. It’s not right when drivers, many of whom are tooling around in a Rolls-Royce, or a Bugatti, are stiffing New Yorkers,” said MTA CEO Janno Leiber as the MTA and local enforcement began yet another crackdown on toll evaders in motor vehicles. “It’s about fairness,” he said. “New Yorkers shouldn’t get stuck with the bills the deadbeats won’t pay. Fifty million people a year. We’re gonna get every dollar,” he vowed at a July 9 press conference.

The press conference was the MTA’s latest efforts to highlight its crack down on toll evasion, which includes people who use fake or obstructed plates–known as ghost plates–and as well as people who drive with suspended registrations or licenses.

In addition to the horrific tragedies caused by unregistered vehicles and drivers with suspended licenses, the toll evaders cost New York State $12.5 million each year in unpaid tolls and fees, money that is otherwise integral to a smoothly operating mass transit system.

The MTA worked with the NYPD, the NY Sheriff’s Department, the Port Authority, the NYS Police, and Governor Kathy Hochul to try and bust the 50 million people that annually rip off law-abiding citizens. They have impounded 1,540 vehicles, made 339 arrests, and issued 12,007 summonses.

“Our heightened enforcement efforts are cracking down on the brazen lawlessness that has gone unchecked for too long, and our message is simple: enough is enough,” said Governor Hochul.

The ramifications of driving with a ghost plate or a suspended license can be much greater than simply avoiding payments. Oftentimes these vehicles are linked to less innocent crimes and lead to weapon recovery or the arrests of wanted criminals.

On July 4, an allegedly drunk driver mowed down 11 people at a Lower East Side Fourth of July celebration, killing three of them and injuring eight, one of whom was an eleven-year-old boy. The perpetrator was driving with a ghost plate and had his license suspended four times without reinstatement due to failure to acknowledge summonses.

“This tragedy underscores the importance of the work this team does,” said a member of the NYPD at the MTA news conference.

These efforts are closely linked to stopping fare evasion on New York’s public transit systems, as the damage done by folks cheating the tolls and fares go hand in hand. MTA CEO Janno Lieber boasted that subway crime is going down substantially each week, and is down 11 percent compared to pre-pandemic figures from 2019, he said.

“Somebody who beats the fare on railroads, jumps the turnstile, walks in the exit gate, we’re gonna get you. There’s a 150 percent increase in summons,” said Lieber.

Ninety eight percent of the money when fare evaders are nabbed gets funneled back to the MTA and the task force because the crackdown also involves seizing the vehicles with a large amount of outstanding summonses.

The joint crackdown on July 9 marked the 25th joint operation the toll evader task force has conducted in the past year.