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Astoria SBS riders no longer subject to unfair fines

monday, broken

May 19, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge

A broken Select Bus Service ticket kiosk that has put some Astoria commuters at risk of being fined was finally fixed Monday after being out of service for months.

SBS riders, who are able to get to Manhattan quickly, are required to pay for their trips before boarding by buying tickets from on-street kiosks.

However, a ticket kiosk in Astoria – at Astoria Boulevard North and 77th Street – stopped working earlier this year, according to multiple riders. Many called the situation “inconvenient” and stress-inducing, due to possible run-ins with MTA ticket inspectors who patrol the SBS routes. The fine for riding SBS without a ticket is $100.

Riders described various methods of working around the broken kiosk, including leaving earlier to cross Astoria Boulevard to buy a ticket from the eastbound kiosk, or rearranging their routes and spending more time on foot to avoid inspectors.

Several said they would hop off the bus at the next stop after 77th Street – Astoria Boulevard/Steinway Street – at the risk of losing their seat, or even watching the bus leave without them.

“[There were] two buses that I lost because I was trying to comply with the rules,” commuter Lisa Bird said. “It’s a problem.”

According to Luke DePalma of the MTA, the agency was aware of the problem but was unable to address it because it does not control its power source.

“At risk of sounding like we’re giving you a continual run around, it really is a Con Ed issue,” DePalma told Joy Galanda, an upper Ditmars resident who brought up the problem at a town hall meeting hosted by the United Community Civic Association last week.

Con Edison representative Andres Ledesma told the crowd at the meeting that he would speak with Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas about the issue

Tuesday, Fixed

Tuesday, Fixed

after the meeting. He told the Astoria Post that he had heard of the broken kiosk problem.

Tuesday morning riders were pleasantly surprised to see the machine up and running.

“It’s fixed,” daily commuter Steve Papas exclaimed when he approached the kiosk. “I’m shocked.”

Rider Karina Jimenez called the fix “awesome.”

Noris Rodriguez said she is still dealing with repercussions from the broken machine; she received a ticket that she is fighting.

“They give you a ticket for something they’re supposed to fix,” she said. “[It’s] just stupid.”

Simotas said that the resolution of the problem less than a week after the issue was raised at the town hall demonstrated the importance of the meetings.

“Though my office spends a considerable amount of time working to resolve these types of issues, nothing is more effective in cutting through bureaucracy and red tape than getting everyone in one room together,” she said.

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4 Comments

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JM

So if the machine is broken and you take a time-stamped picture of it, that will not get you out of a ticket? I have been doing that and rode this bus free quite a few times. If they want their fares they can fix the machine.

Also, aren’t these things solar-powered? Why is Con Edison blamed for this?

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Karen

Hey Noris Rodriguez – good luck fighting your ticket! Hopefully you can print out this article and use it as evidence! 🙂

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