With complaints about fare evasion costing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation agency millions, it might be time to take another look at making Muni bus and train service free for all.
Hiring more fare inspectors costs money, and harassing passengers for proof of payment is no way to increase ridership.
Seniors and the disabled already receive a discount, and the SFMTA is looking to exapnd that to BART -- expanding free ridership to everyone could solve all these problems.
How would such a plan be paid for, you ask?
For starters, increases in parking rates and longer meter hours, not to mention congestion pricing during busy traffic hours downtown.
Not to mention higher property assessments and payroll taxes on businesses that rely on Muni to deliver employees and customers to their doors.
Of course, those latter two ideas have about as much chance of winning "Green Mayor" Newsom's political support as you have of getting somewhere on time riding today's Muni.
But tourists would love it, folks struggling to find a job would love it, the current Muni ridership would love it, and a whole new ridership might get out of their cars and give it a try.
And those still in their cars might actually be able to find parking, if for a price.
Crazy? Sure. But no crazier than the current dysfunctional state of affairs featuring fare hikes, reduced service, major accidents, fisticuffs and even the occasional corpse.
Photo by Rita Hao.
Jackson West has been evading Muni fares by riding his bike instead, and he actually enjoys public transportation.