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The No. 14 Muni bus rumbles south on Mission Street, picking up five to eight passengers at each stop: Mothers with their children, young adults wearing headphones, seniors vying for the few remaining seats. No one tags on. No one glances around furtively to see if someone is watching them ride for free. After 20 minutes and eight stops, just two passengers have tagged in at the Clipper device. Twenty people have gotten on.
Is fare dodging the new normal? It seems the answer is yes. Some of the 18 riders who failed to tag on might have a Muni pass, others, including anyone under 18, low-income seniors, or low-to-moderate income people with disabilities, can legitimately ride for free. But either they make up the entire bus-riding population, or an awful lot of riders no longer pay.
This is not merely an anecdotal observation: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s own data reveals that its ridership is recovering far more rapidly than the sales of prepaid adult Muni passes and single-fare rides.
Interviewing riders at the bus stops before they alight, it would appear that many often consider paying, and some even insist that they do pay. But all agreed that, given the noticeable lack of tagging or fare inspectors, paying is a choice.
A woman waiting for the 22 says it depends on her mood. “I just walk on and decide if I feel like paying today.”
Another blames her fee-dodging on others. “When I first moved here, I paid religiously. But it’s very frustrating when you realize you’re the only person who has paid,” said Isabella, who moved to the city in July.
“I don’t pay all the time, but like, 80 percent of the time,” said a woman waiting for the No. 1 bus at Clay and Franklin streets.
Another rider says he probably pays 60 percent of the time; three more bragged that they haven’t paid in months.
And another insists he pays because of his station in life and his disposition:
“I pay my fare, because I have the means and I’m a rule-follower,” he said while waiting for the No. 33 at 18th and Dolores.
Angelica Campos, a student at City College advocating for free transit passes for CCSF students, said fare evasion “is something I really try to avoid doing.” Why? The $125 ticket.
“I pretty much always pay. I’m pro-transit, I like giving money to transit agencies to do their jobs,” said Jackson. However, he adds, he understands that people ride for free. He helps to run @UnfareSF, a Twitter account that notifies riders of fare inspectors.
Though many attribute what appears to be a rise in fare evaders to SFMTA’s suspension of fare enforcement during the pandemic, confusion about payment has been brewing for years.
An SFMTA blog post from 2017 titled “Make No Mistake: Most Muni Riders Pay Their Fares,” begins: “If it ever seems that only a few Muni riders pay their fare, it may be because most customers pay before they board.”
Today, fewer riders are paying before they board than ever before. From July to December 2019, riders purchased 396,018 monthly passes, an average of 33,000 per month. In the same period in 2022, pass purchasing was down by 78 percent, with an average of 7,257 pass holders per month.
Adult passes (1000s)
Following the pandemic,
ridership has recovered
faster than adult pass sales
has recovered faster
than adult pass sales
Chart by Will Jarrett. Data from SFMTA.
Revenue from single-fare rides is also behind ridership recovery. In the same period, weekday ridership was down 46 percent, and revenue from single-fare rides was down 51 percent, despite the decreased use of monthly passes.
But SFMTA stands by its 2017 explanation for why, in the agency’s view, it only appears that riders are not paying.
Stephen Chun, a spokesperson for the organization, said: “Sometimes it will appear that a person isn’t paying their fare when, in fact, they are. Sometimes riders with monthly passes and free Muni passes don’t tap their Clipper card or pay cash, but that doesn’t mean they’re not paying their fare.”
Pete Wilson, the vice president of the Transport Workers Union, which represents bus drivers and fare inspectors, said, “let’s say I get a transfer. What do you want me to do, announce to everyone, ‘Hello, I’ve already paid?’ Or my wife, who has a pass, should she have to wave around her pass?”
But, he concluded, “We don’t really know who’s paying and not paying.”
But even the SFMTA board appears concerned. “Fare-evasion patterns warrant greater investigation,” suggests its Feb. 7 report.
Do inspectors help?
Wilson argued that fare evasion would be even more rampant without the looming threat of citation, making inspectors’ impact on revenue greater than the tickets they issue.
This assumption is challenged by Chris Arvin, a transportation advocate and data scientist, who studied fare-evasion data provided by SFMTA for the 38 line.
In September, 2022, inspectors targeted the line every single weekday, but the fare evasion rate, calculated by taking the percentage of fare evaders in the sample of people stopped by officers, went up in October.
“There’s no real correlation between fare enforcement and seeing the evasion rate change on that line,” Arvin said. “So, what are we actually getting for our investment there?”
Erica Kato, a spokesperson for SFMTA, says that inspectors aren’t supposed to be an investment.
“We do not use Transit Fare Inspectors for the purpose of generating income,” said Kato. “Rather, the priority for their role is to ensure compliance.”
This was the suspicion of Aditya, another manager of the Twitter account that notifies riders of fare inspectors:
“This isn’t a money-making scheme. It’s just for punishment, for creating a sense of embarrassment.”
Compared to the harmful impacts of personal vehicles, skipping the $2.50 price to ride mass transit seems positively innocuous to others, as well.
“If all those trips were taken by car, the city wouldn’t function,” Arvin said. “When someone takes transit instead of driving, they’re doing everyone a favor.”
Victor Grayson, a 71-year-old who drove for Muni from 1984 to 2004, agrees that we should question the urge to villainize passengers.
The biggest fare evaders, in Grayson’s opinion? “Corporations.”
I understand that “every dollar counts”, but fares have historically been less than 20% of the revenue that keeps SFMTA afloat. It’s easy to avoid fares — harder to avoid taxes — close the gap and make SFMTA fully funded via tax revenue. Maybe revise the City Charter and bring SFMTA back under the Mayor/City Admin’s control and eliminate redundancies and get more contract savings.
People who think more unhoused residents will crowd onto buses when they are zero-fare are a little out of line — there are plenty of unhoused people riding regular w/ or w/o paying fares on multiple lines. More significantly, SFMTA makes more money selling parking permits or giving out parking violation tickets than it does via fares.
In the same way BART moans and groans that homelessness isn’t their problem — and the Standard writes about how tens of millions are “wasted” by BART on homeless outreach and response — it’s similarly not SFMTA’s responsibility.
In comparison, BART is in shambles since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were primarily fare-funded. Now they, and other agencies, are seeking bridge funding to see if conditions will change within the decade. I think it’s more like that BART folds and is purchased by the public like the Key System was — and converted into Alameda-Contra Costa Transit. Then it becomes a regional government body or it gets sliced up and managed pseudo-independently with a stronger version of the BART board of directors overseeing it.
BART’s desire to up fare enforcement is a little pointless if ridership never returns to normal — and considering their primary clientele were folks commuting into downtown San Francisco — which is famously “dying” — BART needs to rethink its business model just as much as the City and County of San Francisco.
I’m a retired senior, possessor of a Senior Clipper card and always pay my fare which is discounted. Walgreen’s “refills” my card when necessary. I’ve noticed that other seniors are most likely to pay, some tourists not so much.
Though I’m still unemployed, I’ll pay most of the times, so long as I can. Sometimes I pay on the first bus but, may not tap on others, until I want to check how much time I got left.
I think Muni NEEDS to cover THEIR OWN bases, to motivate riders that can still afford, to always pay! First, when I pay Muni, just to get to Bart, like 6 blocks away, there SHOULD BE credit given, when tapping at Bart! So, if on that trip to Oakland I return 8 hrs later, why should I pay another full fare, on the return Muni trip, for the same 6 blocks? Unlike other riders, I was not able to use my transfer time on other Muni buses & I was not in the city.
Second, if your drivers are NOT on time or busses do not show up, it means we paying riders LOSE fare time! If this happens on my routes, I expect this is a whole system problem. If I often notice (when I’m out) 2 buses of the same routes, one behind another, it tells me IT IS happening as often, as well! That means drivers are NOT sticking to their schedule thus, making riders WASTE fare time. Such Muni drivers may be taking breaks and lunches together, I suspect…
This past Wed, I wanted to transfer to a 14, but I was not aware, they were re-routed to Market. I found out on my return trip, they had an issue, near Mission & Tenth St. I waited almost 15 min (didn’t look for a mini notice at bus stop, just saw people waiting) & took the 27th, then 48, just to barely make it to my appointment. A couple of months ago, it was also raining, busses running late, and I had already missed an appointment to the same place.
I think using Muni is a good deal and I can’t speak for others not paying, as we all have different reasons. As such, Muni, Barr, and SF City need to work together & realize their current rules are NOT fair for all, and need to make some revisions to accommodate riders’ differences and needs.
Way to poverty shame. You also could have done an article on free fares for students in Germany. You could have researched how public transportation is free in Luxembourg and Estonia, among several other nations. But you chose poverty shame. Did you even do the math? $2.50 one way so $5.00 per day 5 days a week = $25.00 a week or $100 per month. So glad you have the funds. Not everybody in the city does. I pay because I only use it twice a week and my return is still on the $2.50. But would I assume someone is not transferring, and has therefore already paid, or has the means but chooses not to pay? Never. I am truly saddened that a person would take a profession that affords a bigger voice and use it to poverty shame.
If fare enforcers were there to shame why do I only see them in middle class areas where people are just dumb enough to pay. If you had them in high class areas the rich people will start feeling uncomfortable or piss off the wrong person real quick, but put them in the real rough areas and there will be an uproar claiming discrimination. As a paying rider I feel like a sucker everytime I see someone casually hopping or slipping through the gates. Make it fair and put fare enforcers everywhere instead of just going for the easy targets cause I see way too many people getting away with murder and so much more than I see the “shame” message they’re trying to put out
So MUNI will punish the people who actually pay for transporation (San Franciscans with cars) by jacking up tolls, fees, fines, and extending parking meters, etc., so that criminals can ride the bus for free. What could be a better idea? How bout driving all remaining functional humans out of San Francisco, and making everything free!
I often don’t pay because some “junior seniors” like myself (age 62) get nothing in the way of discounts. You have to be 65. Like, that’s when your life changes? Please- it’s ridiculous to expect a retired person on social security to fork out three dollars for each ride. First of all, I don’t ever have that kind of extra money. If you don’t have hiv, or you’re not disabled technically in some way, you have to pay. Can’t do it.
I took the 24 last week from Kaiser on Geary to 23rd & Castro. Did my own little informal survey and much to my surprise 22 of the 27 passengers who boarded tapped their cards.
100% of this problem goes away with free muni. I heard the city has $27 million up for grabs at the moment.
I can drive & leave my car on the street for free! Why the hell should I pay for the bus?!
As a passenger, I cannot imagine caring one iota whether another passenger has paid or not.
For one thing, there are several scenarios where they have already paid, but more importantly, I am not a cop, so as long as no one is being physically assulted, what business is it of mine.
That riders get personally offended when they see other passengers board a bus without ‘swiping’ always struck me as being overly lame.
On Monday, March 13, I rode the # 1 California, from 22nd Avenue, to 6th Avenue.
I boarded at the front of the bus, and tried to use my Clipper card. I got no audio response, and the driver told me that “It isn’t working. Take a seat.” As a senior I sat in the front seats, and asked him if I should give him cash, as I hadn’t paid for my ride. This answer was a simple, but firm “No.”
I would guess that 8-10 passengers got on, during my trip. All were told, by the driver, that it wasn’t working … and, to please take a seat.
Perhaps, MUNI should check its equipment, and have a little more respect for the passengers’ intent to pay.
I can see how the monthly pass would not be popular if most people are still only working in the office 3 days of the week and working from home 2. why pay for a monthly pass that costs $81 ($98) if you also use the BART within SF when you might only commute 13-15 days in a month. At $3(cash) or $2.50 (clipper or muni app) , that comes to $65 -$80 if you take the bus both ways. There is no savings to having a monthly pass at that point.
When I was first using the Muni app because a day pass was $5, I ended up with charges from clipper since I had tagged with my phone thinking the app would work. there could be plenty of people that can’t tag the reader because muni app is not made to be tagged, just shown to the driver, although they also encourage riders to board from the back to avoid contact with the driver.
It would be good to clarify some of these things since you could be suspecting a lot of people who paid who cannot tag the reader and unless they use the muni app, which i’m hoping pays direct to Muni without taking a cut, they would not be aware of how that system works.
I pay my fare from the mobile app. I also see people that get on the back tap their clipper card. We don’t need folks giving out tickets for folks not paying the fare. Muni receives plenty money to keep going.
If you think fare evasion really surprises you, come move to LA, you’ll understand more than.
I’m a muni transit Driver,all u have to do is ask any muni operator how bad it is,I do the 27 line 80% of passengers doesn’t pay thier fare,I asked myself How can muni survive as a transit Bus service.
Most people at my office traveling to FiDi use the MuniMobile App – you do not have to “tap” in.
I moved here a year ago. I ride Muni every weekday, and tag in each time. I noticed very few people tagging in, so I asked on reddit if that was the norm. BOY, DID I GET YELLED AT. My basic, polite question was met with, “Why would you judge these people?” Huh? I’ve always used public transit and know that the fare income is vital to the system. Weird that people don’t understand that.
It’s the new Norm here in San francisco. You can write graffiti and deface public and private property all over the city, steel and rip off from walgreens, ride the muni for free and jump right over the turnstile when it’s time to pay, steal somebody’s car joyride around,.. do crack and sell stolen goods in the Civic center in front of everybody..ride a super loud motorcycle right down a residential street at 2:00 in the morning.. and face virtually no penalties. But don’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign and you face hundreds of dollars in fines and hours of a driver’s education course.. The city of San Francisco is batshit crazy on its head.. Every corrupt to the corecity official needs to go.. from top to bottom ..with the exception of very few..
Oh, another person who feels that only drivers are persecuted. So tiring.
Agreed. I’ve lived here 25yrs. I don’t want to take the bus, it’s looks like no one cares when they don’t pay. Even my hairdresser says she’s given up paying.
“Free Muni schemes” created this. Everyone should pay – even if it’s 50cents. Keep people honest. Anyway good luck now, this lawlessness has been going on too long.
We have the most sophisticated transportation system not just in the country but in the world and it works very well Nobody pays and we are steady getting new buses and expanding light and rebuilding cable car system where else can you get across town 24/7/365 ? Get rid of the fare box’s and the overpaid and underworked fare inspectors make it free we have already paid for it with our tax dollars
Do the math fare income is such a small percentage of munis massive subsidized budget it’s not worth the cost of inspectors ,fare box maintenance ,and counting and banking of the money muni would run faster( by a lot) and smoother if fares were eliminated altogether. You would get more people out of cars and riding public transprtation Just the fact that no one pays proves that the system still runs smoothly without the fares We have the most subsidized transportation system in the free world were all paying the fares with our tax dollars any way. Get rid of the fat lazy fare inspectors and their high salaries move into the future with out the illusion of forcing anyone to be honest
I agree with Victor Grayson that people are doing us a favor by riding public transit–but if people don’t pay their fares, lines get shut down. If enough people don’t pay for a long enough period, the agency fails and then no more bus or train for you, which doesn’t do anyone a favor. Use your noodles people. I would think a Muni driver would get that. I agree that corporations are bigger crooks. I’d love to live in an anti-capitalist utopia where bus rides are free. But we don’t live in that world. If the agency goes insolvent, either it fails or we levee a new tax. It will get its fare one way or another or cease to exist. Less revenue also means less money for maintenance and improvements. You’re harming yourself by not paying.
Before the pandemic I had a mini pass and always tagged. Nowadays I just have a balance on my Clipper and pay as I go. But every time I do I get cold stares from others on the 25 to the point I stopped paying on that line and only pay on others.
I feel slightly targeted, lady.
There is this app called MuniMobile. You should check it out sometimes.
I am grateful for Muni to help transport me around.
A thought: many passengers, myself included, used to buy monthly passes before the pandemic as we commuted daily. These passes were subsidized to an extent through employers’ transit stipends or tax free travel accounts. With the move to primarily remote work for knowledge workers, these monthly passes are no longer provided nor necessary– I now add money on an as needed basis. I still ride muni frequently, but a monthly pass is no longer cost effective. Something to consider when accounting for the “drop” in monthly fees.
I ride the 30 Stockton Street line. Going through Chinatown a lot of people don’t pay fares at all. Put fare inspectors on that line especially in the early morning hours. You’ll see a big difference.
Funny, car parking is free in many spaces/cases especially on Sunday. Drivers get all manner of subsidies, for 70 years. We should start charging drivers more , and remove street parking where it slows Muni. The budget for automotive transportation in San Francisco is enormous compared to MUNI. It breaks my heart to see Muni riders here fighting over scraps. Let’s go after the real date evaders, the drivers in this city.
Muni is Screwed up & has been that way for Years.
I’m Based down in L.A. & we have the same Problem on Metro Busses & Trains.
With Muni riders claim that the Fare is Too High, the Day Pass Prices are High & other Issues & you have Fare Evasion that’s Ridiculous.
Muni Needs to go the Route like L.A. Metro & go the Fare Capping route that Metro will implement this July, in which Passes will no longer be sold, except the EZ Pass (Interagency Pass) & you spend $2.00 per Ride on your Tap Card & when you hit the $6.00 Mark its free the rest of the Day, you spend $20.00 in Fare on your Tap Card its free for the rest of the month.
This is what Muni Needs to Look at in L.A. & in Honolulu which has its Fare Capping in Effect in that City.
Muni Needs to change & look into the Fare Capping & stop the Fare Evasion on its Busses & Trains.
As a native of SF I feel that by not paying I would be disrespecting my city and the tax paying citizens who live here.
It is long past time to pull the plug on this Calvinist Puritan prosperity gospel in government.
– Repeal Care Not Cash, give direct cash grants to poor people.
– Provide pharmaceutical fentanyl to addicts.
– Eliminate transit fares
– Slim down the SFPD to only fight violent crimes
– Spin up substance and psych crisis intervenors and treatment capacity
The status quo is just using more and more laundered money intentionally for the purposes of cruelty.
Ooh. Great article.
Muni has been my transportation for over 30 years. We San Franciscans should be more appreciative for all the public transit provided us. It is only right for us to keep supporting the infrastructure no matter your personal feelings of a driver, station agent or fare inspector. For me, the SFMTA is a lifeline and I am proud to of our world class transit system.
Do you pay?
I pay every time I ride, but I use MuniMobile app that does not require tagging (you just activate your ticket). Tagging on with clipper card is not a reliable indication of passengers are paying.
Make Muni free
I don’t remember the last time I paid to ride. It was well before covid. And I ride every day. I’ve never gotten a ticket but I’ve had some close calls
F… Muni, with those lousy shelters that don’t keep us riders dry and out of the wind, I’d never pay to ride. Just crabbing, I always pay.
I’m curious how MUNI is able to calc ridership levels. Nominally, it would be based on fares, or a mix of fares and passes (or app hits) perhaps. But this seems like an instance of ‘apple n oranges’. MUNI has an interest in bumping its ‘ridership’ levels – if no more than to cry for more funding, but primarily as justification for its existence.
MUNI gets less than 30% of its funding from fares. But still, that’s several hundred million $$$. Money that could increase frequency or boost cleanliness OR provide more security. Think about the cost of “free MUNI”.
Muni has electronic passenger counters on its buses and light rail vehicles.
Disband the Fare inspection program and catch the real criminals.
Having ridden Muni for almost 40 years, I think fare evasion zoomed when all door boarding was instituted. I get the idea behind it, to speed service,etc.but I think as an unintended consequence it has made much easier to evade paying the fare.
I agree about the “all door boarding”. It was ‘necessitated’ by COVID. But now that COVID restrictions are eliminated MUNI should go back to ‘front door loading’ … and everyone checking in, or, not riding.
Or make it free for everybody. Fares cover like 18% of the costs anyways. Make it free, quadruple the ridership, and make the clowns in cars parking on the streets for $144 a year pay for it.
All door loading was in place long before COVID as a means to speed up boarding and reduce wait times for buses. Going to front door boarding only would significantly slow transit.
Yes, every day people truly are getting around Muni fares.
To pay or not to pay has been ambiguous since the types of Covid restrictions began and changed. The City needs to make an effort to put out information that we now need to pay again.
As a city employee ,we can’t ride for free even when we are doing city business..
I think you ought to look at the No of youths who jump over BART entrance. That’s even more frustrating to me as a paying BART rider. The staff at the kiosk cares nothing. BART police are nowhere to be found. That’s why the BART is losing money. They need to have at least one BART officer station at every 2-4 stations daily in rotation or walk inside each line to check on passengers.
That’s about to start happening – BART announced the shift in response to rider complaints.
I’ve witnessed in Rome, a notoriously disorganized city, where inspectors fine fare evaders on the spot and detain them if they refuse. Are we afraid to do so here?
Have you read the comments here? Half the people are boasting that they haven’t paid in years and the other half that do pay are making excuses for those that don’t. Muni may only rely on fares for a small portion of operating revenue but BART is being seriously hurt by fare evasion. In any case it’s just one more example of a city that’s way beyond out of control.
Another glaring example of SF’s glaring ineptness compared with other cities. Yes, it happens elsewhere, but there are many examples of where the structural elements, the culture of expectation, and the enforcement works. Think of what a great system Muni would be with the additional millions in revenue.
When, if when comes, we’ll right the ship or free Muni or perhaps the downtown corridor be free … I was checked by roving inspectors …once since Covid began, let’s not sweat this one, however let’s focus on driver/passenger safety and service…
The buses are packed!!! 1 bus is crazy. Of course fare evasion is rampant. Who cares except that busses are crazy full. Start handing out more tix. If people were really paying by app then the money for enforcement would be there right?
If I am at Safeway and see someone steal a banana, I didn’t see it.
If I am on the bus and I see someone not tag in, I didn’t see it.
The thing is, if they needed a banana so much they had to steal it, then they obviously qualify for foodstamps. If they need to get on the bus and willing to risk a big ticket because that $40 muni pass is just too much to budget for, then they already qualify for the low-income free pass and probably just don’t even know it.
And…. kids already ride free, (including my 3 kids) and I’ve heard ENDLESS people complain about the kids who are fare-jumpers, but don’t know this.
It’s obvious many complainers don’t ride MUNI. They don’t know you can pay without tapping, they don’t know kids are free, they have no clue what it’s like. They probably don’t even live in SF. I also find this article disappointing and not up to the standards I have been grateful for from Mission Local.
So the many, many people I see hopping over the turnstiles on BART are a figure of my imagination? MUNI is the same thing. There’s simply no way that suddenly everyone is on a pass. At least half the people on any bus aren’t paying and on something like the 14 it’s got to be around ten percent who actually pay.
Fare inspectors are the norm around the world – I’ve seen them in London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam. Can they all be wrong about the efficacy of fare inspectors?
In Germany, they have a word for riding without paying – schwarzfahren.
I’ve been to all those cites and more. They don’t allow drug addled vagrant camps everywhere either, unlike San Francisco with it’s malignant compassion.
Speaking of Europe, transit agencies contract fare inspection out to companies who go round robin through their customers over the year, performing saturation checks. Very effective deterrence.
Malignant compassion is exactly right. Judging from the comments here plenty of San Franciscans are happy enough to explain away, overlook or justify behaviors that in any other normal city around the world wouldn’t be tolerated.
I’ve seen them on buses in Singapore, probably one of the most citizen-compliant places on the globe.
Sometimes Muni apparently doesn’t want people to pay their fare. Try to pay the cash fare when boarding a Muni Metro train at a surface street stop. It’s usually not possible. (Oddly, the underground Muni Metro stations are where it’s most difficult to avoid paying fare.)
I’d love to see the budget breakdown of money spent on fare collection, fare inspectors, cost of pursuing violators and recovery rate from citations.
I see fares as a tax. I’m in a position that I can pay that tax, but I’m against regressive taxes. I’m even more against ones whose enforcement costs even close to the amount they collect.
It’s telling that the best reason to have fares is to keep violence down and to make sure the seats aren’t occupied all day long by people the City refuses to build shelters for or get into treatment.
Because if not for those reasons, for a City that wants Vision Zero, wants to reduce car traffic, wants to halt climate change, wants to see increased density out in the Sunset and Richmond, wants to reduce traffic in downtown, the best fare price would be zero.
That said, you’ll never see me tag in because I use the muni app.
damn, wish reddit were back up already.
When there is a very slight chance of consequences for fare evasion, fare evasion becomes rampant, as it has on both BART and MUNI.
I’ve been a regular passenger on both systems for 50 years, and I’ve never seen fate evasion as rampant as it is now.
Both BART and MUNI need to start treating fare evading passengers w/tough love, ASAP!
I regularly ride MUNI and am often the only boarder swiping my Clipper Card. I pay exorbitant taxes for the privilege of living in SF. While I don’t begrudge my taxes going to SFUSD, I do resent SFMUNI constantly crying “poor” when it does nothing to stop fare evasion. Aren’t these scofflaws similar to shoplifters?
Where did you get the idea that disabled and poor people ride free?!
Yes, near as I can tell, a person below the income limits, perhaps collecting SNAP or on medi-cal gets a discounted rate on a monthly pass OR 1/2 price tickets for the bus, nut not a free ride.
To Naan: San Francisco residents with qualifying disabilities and/or low incomes can apply for, and get, “free” MUNI (not BART) passes. That said, those people can have that ‘privilege’ added to their Clipper Card and can “beep in” when boarding MUNI. I know because I have such a pass (low income senior) and I always “beep in” when boarding MUNI. (When riding BART I pay “beep in” and pay the senior rate.)
My employer pays for a monthly pass, but if they didn’t I would buy one for myself because my most direct route home is by cable car. At $8 a single ride, buying a $100 monthly pass is a bargain. That said, Muni should be free for everyone and the city should prioritize increasing the number of lines, efficiency, safety and cleanliness on board. Fewer cars on the road and more mass transit is a big win for everyone. It makes me crazy that people are too car-brained to see the bigger picture.
The funding situation aside – the City&County faces a $700m+ deficit over the next two year budget… Eliminating fares would turn the longer lines into Hotel Muni. Regular riders are going to flee. Check out the LA Times headline today: “L.A. riders bail on Metro trains amid ‘horror’ of deadly drug overdoses, crime”.
The new norm is surely not paying, mask wearing (3 years and counting!) and staring at one’s phone. It’s a trashy culture, albeit a pleasant ride thanks to the amazing drivers.
If inspectors aren’t an investment, let’s get rid of them. $2.25/$3 is not a lot for some civility.
Make Muni free .. it’s that simple. People are voting with their actions.
Right, so more urine soaked bums can come along for the ride.
How about boarding passengers in the front and exiting from the back, so the driver can at least pretend to care who gets and pays for the service?
And please, bring back more of the Xpress buses. This hour-long slog downtown is starting wear thin
I guess taxes can be optional too. It’s that simple.
Some cities are already doing this. Muni shouldn’t be treated as some bonus service that is an “extra” for a city. It’s a requirement and should be treated as such. I don’t drive on the roads, but I have to pay for road repair in my taxes. It’s no different.
And you people saying the reason we shouldn’t have free muni is because: “Right, so more urine soaked bums can come along for the ride.”
Guess what: Homeless people ALREADY RIDE FREE. So your argument is moot and simply shows how some people base their opinions and justify their *votes* on ignorance rather than facts
Only loser sucking up for the locals oligarchs would worry about Muni fare evasion
It’s not just monthly passes that are prepaid, but single and day passes through the Muni app. You can buy it before you board so looking at tags will underrepresent paying riders. If you’re not tagging a Clipper card, you probably don’t want to take out an expensive iPhone to tag every time you board.
Okay.But they’d have to be selling heavily to make up for the revenue gaps in the data and the evidence is not there.
I’m not arguing there’s no loss, just hard to make our without a chart on all fare revenue and not just monthly passes.
Many riders, myself included, use apps to pay. Some apps (i.e. SFMTA Muni Mobile) do not require swiping. I ride the 7-Noriega every day and the inspectors do get on and check people’s tickets. Very few people are cited. This article does not mention the apps folks use. Don’t assume people aren’t paying if they don’t swipe.
Paris, but you could still swipe with your phone to show others that you are paying. Otherwise you give the impression that you are a scofflaw.
But what is really needed is zero tolerance enforcement. But of course the money is not there to do that because of evasion. Catch 22?
Huh? Pretend swipe to appease people like you? WTF?
Ron, i thought the same thing and swiped with my phone and it charged my clipper card although I had bought the day pass for $5 on the Muni App. Had to speak with clipper customer service and they credited me $5 for the 2 x i had done it before noticing the charges on my clipper account. They did it quick since they most likely get tons of people calling to complain about it all the time. once you get double charged for bus fare, you learn pretty quick not to tag if you bought an e-ticket with your muni app. Even though i saved money if I was going to travel around the city multiple times, I was feeling more self-conscious of how people looked at me and how I might look at others who did not tag their phone. In the end, it wasn’t worth the savings to have people assume i was evading fares since I guess I’m more of a rule follower than a money saver.
@Paris: I admit I may not understand your comment. Can’t people who pay “by app” swipe their phone OR Clipper Card to indicate that they’ve paid? Maybe that’s not possible, IDK. But if it is possible it’s just being, shall I say, lazy not to “beep in” (indicating you’ve paid). If one paying by “app” CAN’T do this then I stand corrected.
It’s not required when you pay with the app. This judge mental attitude, particularly the individual calling a paying rider a “scofflaw” is unreal. Who are you people?
@ Laura Odonovan – No, you can’t do both. If you pay on the app and tap your phone, you’ll end up paying twice.