NYPD eases penalties for people begging for subway swipes

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NEW YORK — It happens to everyone who rides the subway, you're exiting the turnstile and there someone asking for a swipe.

The police department says panhandling and blocking passengers from exiting a turnstile is illegal.

That along with fair evasion – make up the bulk of transit arrests

The NYPD handed made a whopping 29,000 arrests for fare evasion in 2015, more than any other type of arrest last year.

Those may be a thing of the past. Police can now issue $25 to 50 dollar tickers or a summons to appear in court.

"Rather than us take somebody down for 24 hours and they're back out. At least giving them that summons, if they don't answer it, it allows us to take them for a warrant," Chief Joseph Fox of the Transit Bureau said.

The Bronx district attorney's office has for years declined to prosecute fare evaders. Cy Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, agreed to stop prosecuting all low-level offenses in the borough.

"We need to be focusing on the serious assaults, the domestic violence cases, the stalking case and I think it's entirely appropriate to have these cases referred to [criminal court], Vance said.

Transit activists say desperate commuters simply don't have another choice but to ask.

A study found more than a quarter of low income working New Yorkers weren't able to afford a subway or bus fare.

Last week, the Riders Alliance launched a campaign for city funded half price MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.

The de Blasio administration says it's reviewing that proposal.