To Combat Counterfeiting, NJ Transit Goes For Ultraviolet Tickets

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NJ Transit Train (Photo by Flickr user robotbrainz)

(Jorteh Senah -- WNYC) New Jersey Transit officials are cracking down on counterfeit tickets. Weekly and monthly passes will now feature an anti-counterfeit device, which can only be detected by the transit staff's special UV scanners.

NJT Executive Director James Weinstein says counterfeiting costs the agency up to $3 million a year in losses. The NJT spent $80,000 to implement the anti-counterfeit measure.

NJT Police Department Chief of Police Christopher Trucillo said with advances in printing technology, tickets were being forged throughout the NJT system, most notably on rail and train vehicles.

"I think it's an opportunistic crime and it, quite frankly, was easy,” Trucillo said. “And what we've done internally is close that gap, it's not so easy now. Through the use of simple technology like the hologram system we’re very easily now able to identify fraudulent tickets.”

Now, when a ticket is scanned by a NJT employee, a hologram will appear under the UV lights, and if it doesn’t the police will be instructed to further inspect the ticket at the next station stop. Passengers with counterfeit tickets in their possession will be arrested and, if found guilty, could face up to 18 months in prison or a $10,000 fine.

Trucillo says the measure is just the first step of an ongoing fight against fare beating, noting counterfeiters would undoubtedly adapt to the new technology.

“It doesn’t end there because every time you put a barrier up people are going to now look to be creative and try and go around that barrier,” Trucillo said. “So we’re going to have to be on our toes and continue to look and be proactive in trying to circumvent this.”

The hologram will be changed each month and conductors and drivers on NJ Transit trains, buses and the light rail system now have small flashlights they'll use to scan tickets and monthly passes to check for the holograms.

With the Associated Press