Is the Free Swipe Becoming a Movement?

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Our ally NYC the Blog -- of subway rat and abusive arrest video fame -- has taken to championing the idea of "free swiping," in which owners of unlimited Metrocards swipe riders in on their own way out as "a tiny fuck you" to the fact that the things now cost $104. One group, organized as the People's Transportation Program, with a goal of swiping as many people as possible, has been long gestating, but with this new round of fare hikes, the practice may be ramping up.

Most importantly, it's legal to swipe anyone at any time, as long as you're not selling the ride.

Russia Today even included the free swipes as part of a segment on civil disobedience in the U.S.:

And, of course, a Facebook group has popped up in support, complete with the following manifesto:

After you have paid for your very expensive unlimited card, share it with a fellow new yorker. If a person is standing by the turnstile making a swiping motion, share a swipe. Your metro card renews every 20 minutes after swiping. It is legal to use your card as many times as you want. Our goal is to keep new yorkers moving at a fast flow while making the transaction.

How to FreeSwipe:
1) Have your unlimited card out and ready to swipe someone in.
2) Tell your friends about FreeSwipe and pass on this Facebook page
3) We can help each other and fight the system.

There are currently 81 members, but its founders are confident, according to NYC the Blog:

Reached via email, Tina added things "are going really great. People are really interested...We get a few people together and gather our unlimited cards. All of us stand by the turnstile and give out swipes while handing out flyers."

Free swiping: not just for homeless people anymore! [via NYC the Blog]

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]


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12 comments
Truthlivefree
Truthlivefree

people are getting arrested for this, what is the law?

Anonymousness
Anonymousness

Actually the time limit only applies to the same station you just swiped it in. For example, if you swiped and got on the train at the 42nd street station, you can get off at the 34th street station and swipe again without the time limitation.

I've been doing this since the introduction of metrocards and removal of tokens. It's real easy, once you get on the train to get to work/school/restaurant, just swipe the card again when you get off at your destination. Bam! Easy as pie.

John
John

2.11.11 - Screw You MTA Day

Fed up with increasing prices and decreasing services? Then join me this Friday, February 11th for the first annual "Screw You MTA Day".

For the last week, as a monthly unlimited metrocard holder, I have swiped at least one person per day at the Greenpoint G Train after exiting the subway. Demonstrate your dissatisfaction and generosity by swiping someone this Friday!

MTA is a clan of crooks, so this can be our little way of stickin' it to them. They may take our $$$, but they'll never take, our freedom!!!

P.S. Share this with your friends or I won't swipe you!

Knewdles
Knewdles

section 1050.6 #1 and #2. http://www.mta.info/nyct/rules...

I am ALL for free swiping, but the above cited directly from the MTA sounds like they could get u for free swiping. Can u investigate please???

AlexS_NYC
AlexS_NYC

I didn't believe that swiping other people was legal, but it kind of seems like it is when you look at the MTA site. At least they don't prohibit it explicitly, and they do prohibit swiping people for money.

Go figure.

I've never swiped anyone who asks because I'm paranoid about losing my card.

Anon
Anon

Naive Americans quoting Russia Today videos make me sad.

Weary West Ender
Weary West Ender

As every NYer knows the MTA keeps 2 sets of books, the one it publicly disloses and the real one it doesn't. Remember that surcharge recently added to every taxi trip to support public transit? Where did that money go? Cutbacks have become so bad on the 57 bus that it rarely comes, and when it does several go by before there's room to even get on. Earth to the MTA, the 31 bus is no substitute. The 57 is the only one that goes up West End Ave. where the closest subway in the 60's is a 15 minute walk to B'way. A little civil disobedience could go a long way.

mattmaison
mattmaison

The biggest F U here is to those that pay for the MTA's services. Free riders are using the services for free and not paying for it, which will eventually drive everyone's prices up. If you're paying for a metro card and swiping people for free, you'll pay for it even more in the long run.

Also, has there been actual confirmation that this is legal? So far all these blogs and posts that have been talking about this only mention it being possible and no source for the actual legality of it.

Chopatree
Chopatree

Matt, in most other circumstances, I would totally agree with you. I find regularly ragging on on Walmart is the biggest waste of time and a total simplification of what Walmart "is." Hell, I think people even complained about BP too much--I believe that that BP does a whole lot of good... not to say that they don't do a whole lot of bad either.However, the MTA is notorious. The amount of funding they get is insane--city, state, federal level plus the amount people pay. The workers get ridiculous benefits (for example, if an employee gets spat in the face by a passenger, they get a work off with pay. While this may be a rarity, and even if it were to happen, I think the average joe would be more bewildered than anything, it does exist). This year they reduced service while upping the price. It's absurd. They have a monopoly on the city.They provide a great service--the public transportation is good. But still. City, State and Federal support plus fares, plus a fare hike, plus reduced service. Doesn't make sense.

NYC The Blog
NYC The Blog

"If you're paying for a metro card and swiping people for free, you'll pay for it even more in the long run." Not sure about that, but perhaps. I personally believe we lose a ton of service and tax dollars through waste and corruption starting at the top, and is an an FU so big it will cripple you. But either way...

An unlimited metro card can be swiped as much as you want, as often as you can, all month. Should you stand there and swipe people in for free all day? I wouldn't, but guess it depends on your outlook. Should you swipe someone in if they ask, after you exit the turnstile? Definitely. And it is legal last I knew. I recalled the MTA specifically addressing the issue online at mta.info, but can't find now. In the meantime, see the 5th and 6th paragraphs here: http://nyti.ms/fvW9go.

9_9
9_9

Maybe it'll compel the law-abiders to actually do something about the BS around them. If the price is already high, shouldn't they already be doing something other than piss and moan like you're doing right there?

jnyca
jnyca

The transportation ISNT good. I think that's the main complaint here.

Not only are prices ridiculous.... and just think...... NYC has like 5 million people..... if even a fraction of that buys a 100 a month unlimited card..... thats a whole lotta cash. So....why the he11 cant they fix things? Today I tried to take what should be a 15 minute trip from 2nd ave to Port Authority...... I was on the train for AN HOUR! (im not exaggerating here) I could have walked there faster, and I had to PAY for this. And why? Who knows. because it's Saturday? Because its winter? Because the sky is blue? It really could be whatever. At this point.

The MTA and their terrible service has NYC held hostage.

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