Free Ride: 1 in 10 Muni Riders Skips Fare

Muni freeloaders costing system big bucks

Every fare adds up and a new survey finds that 1 out of every 10 Muni riders aren't paying up. With almost 700,000 fares a day, the cheaters are costing the system about $19 million.

That's one of the findings that will be presented to the Municipal Transportation Authority at Tuesday's board meeting.

Muni put more fare inspectors on all of its lines in response to criticism from the board of supervisors. But for many riders, it turns out, it's not that hard to ride for free.

Some fare-skippers use tampered or expired passes or senior and youth passes they're not entitled to or ask for a courtesy ride. But many more board through the back or just flat-out refuse to pay. Most of the fare cheats do their dirty work between the afternoon and evening hours, the study found.

Drivers say they don't demand people pay because they're afraid of retaliation. And everyone knows how dangerous Muni riders can be if they don't get their way.

Fare jumpers are just a part of the budget problem for Muni. Not only are they costing the system millions, non-paying riders erode the public's confidence and make it harder for Muni to raise public funds.

In response to the survey, more fare inspectors will be riding buses and San Francisco police will also be patrolling more regularly. The measures come as Muni considers cutting service to save money toward a budget deficit.

Meanwhile, honest riders who do pay are shelling out more to ride. Last summer, a regular fare went up to $2.

Fare cheaters who get caught not paying face a $75 fine.

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