Get magic keys that open the gates at 468 subway stations for only $27

(NY DAILY NEWS)   This is the key to the city, and it cost only $27.

The key unlocks swing gates next to every subway turnstile, granting easy – and free – access to all platforms and trains.

The News Pete Donohue tries the master key on a locked emergency exit door at the 77th St. and Lexington Ave. subway station in Manhattan, NY April 22, 2010

The News' Pete Donohue tries the master key on a locked emergency exit door at the 77th St. and Lexington Ave. subway station in Manhattan, NY April 22, 2010

And while these universal keys should only be in the hands of authorized transit workers or police and fire officials, copies have fallen into the hands of some regular New Yorkers – and they are taking the MTA for a ride.

“I’ve been saving a lot of money. There are 468 stations in the city and you can use it at any one of them,” said a Brooklyn man who says he obtained a key from a transit worker for $27, the same price as a one-week unlimited MetroCard.

“If you find an area that’s not supervised by the police, you’re in. It’s like a key to the city.”

The Daily News tried out the key at 15 stations across the city, including Yankee Stadium on the B line in the Bronx, Junction Blvd. on the No. 7 in Queens and 68 St. on the Lexington Ave. line.

It worked every time.

Police said scammers are not only riding around for free, they are furtively selling entry to the subways for less than the $2.25 fare at unstaffed entrances.

Cops confiscated 33 gate keys from perps arrested last year for illegally selling trips or other offenses, according to NYPD spokesman Detective William Winning.

So far this year, police have arrested 15 suspects with subway gate keys, Winning said.

But the low-level thieves, knowing arrests and brief jail stints are inevitable, plan ahead by stashing away extra keys and starting up their scam all over again.

“They all have copies on standby so if they get locked up, when they come back out on the street, they’re still able to make money,” said the Brooklyn man who had a copy. “It’s their bread and butter.”

MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger said his office would launch an investigation.

“We will coordinate our investigation in cooperation with NYPD and MTA security and transit officials,” he said.

New York City Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said the keys were distributed for official use only by Transit personnel, the FDNY and the NYPD.

“We take this issue very seriously and are working closely with the NYPD, which has been aggressively tackling the issue,” Seaton said.

The Brooklyn man said he knew of seven people with keys, and while he gave copies to a few friends, he said he never sold discounted rides to passengers.

He gave his last copy to the News, saying he was tempted to keep using it but he no longer wanted to risk being arrested.

Straphangers beat the fare an estimated 19 million times a year, according to an NYC Transit analysis, and deprived the agency of about $27 million last year alone.

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