Muni Riders Don’t Pay? Who Told?

So it seems in today’s Examiner, (as well as today’s SFist )we have this article, claiming that in some spot surveys 50% of the people on Muni ain’t payin the fare. All I can say is “Who told?”
What’s funny is that part of the reason they are having such a problem is because due to “budget cuts” they have cut the number of ticket people in the stations. So by saving a few bucks on a few staff positions, they’re now losing 50% of the revenue at the farebox. Brilliant, guys! (Almost as brilliant as the Muni spokesperson claiming it costs only a dollar at the farebox – it does not.)
So some geniuses will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out The Big Issue here. But let’s take a break from classes at No Duh University and look at a few basic facts:
1. You can get on a Muni train without paying if you get on the second car. There is no one checking for passes or fares or transfers on any of the second cars on the N-Judah, or any other line. So it’s very easy for Deadbeat Hippie or his friend Bennie the Burnout to hop on and not pay. The chances of getting busted are fairly low.
How you fix this I have no idea. But as it stands, hopping on and taking a ride on the Deadbeat Express is not that hard.
2. There’s no way for bus drivers to prevent hippies, burnouts, and deadbeats from getting on at the back door of the bus. Ever been on the bus downtown at rush hour? Inevitably some losers push their way on in the back even though the sign says “no boarding via the back door.”
But what is the driver supposed to do? They have to let people off the bus in the back, and I drivers have to focus on driving the bus safely, not getting up and beating down the masses for not paying. Although I have talked to some bus drivers who wouldn’t mind “explaining” the concept of paying and not being a deadbeat with more forceful means once in a while – esp. during rush hour when everyone’s clamoring to get home.
I don’t have any magic answers for these. Then again, I’m not paid to do so, either. As it stands we’re once again reaping the “benefits” of management that places a premium on paying high salaries for management and mindlessly “balancing budgets” – without any regard to how such piecemeal moves actually hurt revenue – not to mention service – which is the point of the system in the first place.

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3 Responses to Muni Riders Don’t Pay? Who Told?

  1. JH says:

    I hear you. The second car of the N has been given up to random street crazies and hippies on permenent vacation. There’s no way to not let these people on…somehow I wish you could swipe your Fastpass to get on the second car, but I realize that’s way unrealistic.
    The comment from Maggie Lynch is priceless…maybe if she actually rode Muni herself she’d have a better handle on the going rate.

  2. Mason Powell says:

    Of course, more inspectors would help, but maybe some other solutions are needed to boost farebox revenues. I think proof of payment on ALL lines, is needed (It will keep the inspectors busy at least). Think of how many more fare evasion tickets could be written on the buses!
    Along with this, stop calling them transfers! Call them what they really are. Tickets. Get people in the habit of getting a ticket, not “asking for a transfer”. That sounds like it’s not needed.
    Finally, when all else fails, and Deadbeat Hippie and Anita Bonghit get on the train, have the fare inspectors open the doors at the next stop, and physically throw the bums off. Then announce to the crowd “No Ticket” in the style of the zeppelin scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

  3. Mason Powell says:

    Of course, one thing I forgot to mention was “loaders”. In the old days, Muni would have people at busy stops collecting fares then allowing people to board through exit doors. It would also use bus space more efficiently. Why have people onto an already full 30 Stockton or 38 Geary when another one is usually behind it nearly empty? Loaders could control the distribution of people and get their $1.50 at the same time (and issue them their ticket!)

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