Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Muni fare jumpers: old news

Today's SF Examiner tells us something we already knew---or should have known---about how poorly Muni is doing at the fare box ("Survey: More Than Half of Muni Riders Don't Pay," Justin Jouvenal, Feb. 28, 2006): The city is losing between $16 million and $24 million a year in unpaid fares. As the story makes clear, the survey wasn't large enough to be definitive, but the low fare collection rate was in last year's SPUR report on Muni, which I referred to in an item on the report at the time ("How Gentrification Undermines Muni," Sept. 4, 2005). (Muni is one of the stories the Examiner is better at covering than the Chronicle.) Muni only covers 23% of its expenses via the farebox, while New York City covers 53% of its expenses that way. That's partly because the New York system charges $2.00 and Muni charges $1.50, but evidently Muni could learn something about fare collection from New York. Even though the SPUR report mentioned the low collection rate, it provided no comparative analysis to tell us what New York is doing right and SF is doing wrong. But Muni is now talking about putting $4 million into hiring 50 new inspectors to enforce fare collection. Of course the poorly conceived fare strike last year aggravated the collection problem, since it provided scofflaws with a patina of PC respectability for ripping off our transportation system.

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