Public Transport Tickets

zoobie48's picture

I know people who ride Muni, cable cards, and buses without paying all the time. Just recently one of them got a ticket for appx. $45. Should we put more officers onboard to catch freeloaders, as a means to gain funds? Or is it a meaningless fight?

Stan's picture

The addition of fare-checkers

The addition of fare-checkers on Muni has actually already been implemented before, as seen in this article:

The biggest complaint though was that people felt that they were being targeted for ethnic/racial reasons, and so the program was disbanded. 

nblackburn's picture

no free rides!

I notice that on really crowded buses, freeloaders usually are able to walk through the double doors on in the back of the buses and avoid the bus operator/ticket machine. Maybe we should get rid of the side doors and make two front doors (one for entry and one for exit) to prevent fare evasion.

Also, a lot of times I see people get on the bus without paying and the bus operators don't even say anything. Even when I have misplaced a transfer or cash the bus driver just tells me it's okay. Maybe we should make sure the operators really enforce the no free rides policy.

nblackburn's picture

Muni spies

Or we could have Muni inspectors ride on buses dressed as pedestrians. Then they could write up/fine/fire the operators who allow free rides, and the operators wouldn't know.

My mom is a flight attendant and United had a similar system where they used tagged bills to make sure flight attendants didn't steal money.

rg36's picture

Muni Spies?

I think having MUNI inspectors on buses, who dress casually, will be a great idea. It will create jobs, and it wouldn't require the police to send over their officers to patrol the MUNI buses. But what will these MUNI inspectors do in the event that someone resists a ticket or citation?

bobbyh's picture

Higher fines

In this era of government where we see fees for everything skyrocketing from visiting local parks, camps for local kids, parking in our own neighborhoods... the list goes on and on...why not raise fines for bad behavior, like evading fares, instead of raising fees on law abiding citizens? Make the penalty really heavy and I guarantee that you will see a big drop in fare evaders not only from those that get hit with the pricey ticket, but from the many others that wouldn't dare skip out on the couple bucks to risk paying a couple hundred dollars. 

You won't be able to catch all the fare evaders in the current system because there are too many of them and enforcement will be a real challenge, but if we can reduce the number of people doing it through a strong deterrence like a really expensive ticket, not only will we start collecting more in fares, but we will also be able to more effectively manage/ticket those that continue to skip out on paying. And, we save on the enforcement costs of hiring an army of inspectors/traffic police.

gcotter's picture

Free Muni?

I am raising this subject just to generate discussion - it isn't something I feel strongly about one way or another.

Has anyone considered making Muni free?  It seems that one of the biggest complaints is that there is lots of fare evasion and people who pay their fares resent seeing people ride for free.  If there were no fees and everyone rode for free then this major complaint would go away.

So what are some pros and cons?

PROS:   1. No more complaints about fare evaders.  2. no need to buy and maintain fare collection boxes.  3. Eliminate the cost of printing transfers, fast passes, etc.  4. Eliminate the cost of distributing fast passes to stores . 5. Eliminate the cost of emptying fare boxes, tallying fares, and all the associated costs of processing fares.  6. Eliminate the cost of collecting fast pass money from vendors plus the overhead of tracking those monies.  7. Lower frustration for drivers since they don't need to enforce fares.   8. Faster on-loading of passengers.  9. Substantial increase in ridership - free is a great price. 10.  Reduced automobile traffic because a free bus system is cheaper than gas and auto wear and tear.

CONS:   1. Lose all current revenue.  2. Lost revenue may exceed savings created by eliminating fares.  3. No way to keep homeless people, panhandlers, etc off since they could ride all day and night for free (unless some strictly enforced rules were enacted).  4. Loss of numerous Muni jobs related to: fare box maintenance, printing of transfers and passes, bookkeeping for fares and passes, jobs related to fare enforcement, jobs related to selling/distributing fast passes.  5.  Elimination of all these jobs/salaries/benefits may not offset loss of revenue. (Well, that's just a restatement of #2 I guess)

While it might appear that there are more pros than cons, the cons are pretty significant - especially the $$$$$.  On the other hand, most of the problems relating to fare evasion would require lots of $$$$$ to address, so eliminating fares altogether will cost money, but so would trying to collect fares from fare evaders.

One possibility would be to break Muni into two separate businesses with "Free Muni" supplies by the city, and "Pay Busses" owned and operated by a for profit company.  Personally I think the political and logistical ramifications of that idea would be a nightmare, but it is an idea that should be out on the table.

Anyway, what do others think?  Anyone interested in doing some cost analysis on what it would net out if we simply made Muni free and got rid of all the infrastructure around fares and passes?

jyasskin's picture

gcotter, please don't spam

gcotter, please don't spam every fare-related thread with your Free Muni campaign. It's a good idea, but it's not the only option.


On fare inspection, I think drivers should actually do less to enforce fares, and let inspectors take up more of the enforcement. Any time someone stands in line at the front of the bus instead of getting on at the back, it increases the time the bus has to wait at the stop. Any time the driver argues with someone about a fare, it increases the time the bus has to wait at the stop. Passenger boarding takes about 1/3 of a bus's time (I think that comes from the TEP, but I can't find a link anymore), so speeding up boarding has a real chance to make our trips faster.

Fix the perception that fare inspectors are looking for undocumented immigrants, maybe let low-income riders buy discounted passes, and then use fare inspectors far more than today.

MikeSFO's picture

Higher Fines

I agree with the person that suggests very STEEP fines as a major deterrent. Most MUNI drivers here do not even look at your ticket, and with little or no likelihood of a fine, why not cheat.  In Europe (Austria and Germany for example) many of the major city public transportation systems have fees lower than our MUNI, the driver does not check if you have a ticket, in fact most times there are no entrance or exit gates.  You can board at any door which makes the stops quick and efficient.  You don't show any fare pass to anyone, you just keep a current, VALID fare pass inside your pocket or purse.  Roving fare inspectors can at anytime ask to see your fare pass.  If you do not have one on your person, you then are arrested and hit with a very STEEP fine.  You could ride most of a year without ever buying a pass but get caught just once and the fine is much greater than if you had bought passes all year.  This seems to keep everyone honest while making the system quick and easy to board and frees the drivers to drive.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137