A Faster Muni Could Save Money

Going after fare evaders might speed up San Francisco transit service

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rick Audet
    What do you want: More fare collectors or faster buses?

    Anybody who's chosen the back doors to board a packed Muni bus might be dodging a fare -- but they might also be speeding up service and saving the agency money.

    The San Francisco Municipal Transportation is looking to close the gap on a budget deficit estimated to run up to $1 billion over five years, and is grasping for solutions.

    SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford wants to go after fare evaders, which cost "tens of millions of dollars a year," he tells the San Francisco Chronicle.

    However, holding buses and trains to demand payment may cost as much as it saves according to documents reviewed by the San Francisco Examiner.

    Muni is one of the slowest systems in the nation, with buses crawling along at an average of 8 miles an hour -- and it's been getting slower each year for twenty years.

    If it could speed up by 25 percent -- letting four buses do the work it takes five to do today -- it would save the agency 20 percent per rider in transit costs.

    And faster service means more riders, and therefore more fares, even accounting for fare evaders.

    While riders may complain about how unfair it is that some don't pay, isn't the real issue of fairness one of the crappy service Muni provides in the first place?

    Photo by Rick Audet.

    Jackson West just loves it when drivers hold up a line to scream at old ladies boarding through the back door.