Officials: LIRR loses $20M each year in unpaid fares

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RONKONKOMA -

The Long Island Railroad says it is losing $20 million a year in unpaid fares.

LIRR officials say they reached that figure through undercover MTA audits and spot checks of trains.

Mitchell Pally, the Suffolk County representative on the MTA board, says there are a large amount of challenges for fare collectors, including crowded trains and riders who get on and off trains quickly.

The LIRR's annual revenue totals around $730 million. The transit authority is facing a $1 billion budget deficit by 2020.

Pally says they need to find out how to cut down on fare evasion. He says new payment systems will help.

LIRR riders say they are surprised and somewhat skeptical about the unpaid fares figure.

"That seems like an awful lot of money," says Mary Bucas of Farmingville. "I don't know, it's a new excuse to raise the fares."

Regarding potential fare hikes on the LIRR, Pally said that $20 million in uncollected fares would not necessarily make a difference, but would still add to the MTA's bottom line. 

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