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Letters: Outrage and compassion toward Muni fare inspectors

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SFMTA fare evasion supervisor Lawrence Nichol checks proof of payment on a train. (Jessica Christian/2014 S.F. Examiner)

“Exempt from anti-quota law, Muni fare inspectors pressured to issue tickets,” The City, April 22

The SFMTA must be held accountable

When I read about Muni fare “inspectors” being hassled, my only thought was that this is another way of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to deflect attention from their corruption and complete inability to function as a servant of the people.

The SFMTA would have us think there are thousands of “cheats” not paying their fares, whereas the agency has already forced The City to dip into the General Fund for a $260 million cost overrun on the Transbay Transit Center construction and that project has not yet been completed.

We have the Central Subway and Van Ness transit projects already one year behind in completion, and the merchants of Chinatown and Van Ness forced out of business or hanging by a thread. We have the SFMTA fronting for the ride-hail industry by forcing taxi medallion owners to cough up $250,000, effectively bankrupting most.

The SFMTA has overcharged car owners on parking tickets and increased meter rates and parking fines to outrageous sums. The information boards at Muni stops have malfunctioned from their inception and are run by one of the biggest corporations in the world at high cost to San Francisco residents. The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, which will serve to get the 38-Geary downtown five minutes faster, is already scheduled to cost more than $300 million and it hasn’t even started yet.

So the SFMTA puts fare “inspectors” on Muni to hassle riders — Muni should be free since San Francisco residents have more than bought and paid for this service for generations — while it continues to provide projects that will benefit the corporate interests at the expense of the public. When is the public going to see the SFMTA held responsible for its cost overruns, inefficient operating practices and cavalier attitude to the riding public?

Charles Minister

San Francisco

Rider assistance should count for something

I have a few thoughts about the fare inspectors:

They should be more widely distributed through The City. Previous newspaper articles have indicated they concentrate their activity around SFMTA headquarters.

Inspectors should be given credit for any warnings they give people or assist. For example, helping someone to tag their Clipper card. By including these actions, Muni can get a more balanced review of inspection activities.

This leads to a big question: How much evasion is there and what impact does fare enforcement have on compliance?

And this leads to a larger question: Should we make Muni free, or free downtown, and increase a tax to cover the loss of revenue?

I ride Muni quite a bit, especially the 30 line, and I can tell you there is a significant of non-payment, especially via the rear door. I don’t mind paying my share, but it does bother me that so many do not.

David K. Rodrigues

San Francisco

Is Muni enforcement cost-effective?

I am disappointed in your coverage of this important subject.

Why do we have inspectors on MUNI? Allegedly to catch passengers who do not pay their fares. If that is the case, why did you not report what these fare enforcement officers costs the SFMTA every year in salaries and benefits? In other words, is the system cost-effective? Are they collecting anywhere near the amount of money non-paying passengers are avoiding in paying?

I also think quoting our entrenched congresswoman’s daughter as representative of the Muni paying customer base to be odd, bizarre and inappropriate, in that order, given widely reported rumors that she is likely to attempt to succeed her mother in office.

Another theory of why we have these enforcement personnel on Muni could be to remind the ever-present tourists population, in the spirit of Gavin Newsom, how much San Franciscans (officially) hate poor people.

N. Pasquariello

San Francisco

Great ridership dwarfed by scofflaws

Is this article a joke? The 48,627 tickets issued by fare inspectors last year are only a small fraction of the riders who evade paying any fares.

I ride the 38-Geary R or 1-California BX or 1-California several times each week and count the number of riders who fail to either use a Clipper card, show a transfer or pay at the front entrance. For those riders who enter the rear entrances, only half used a card or had a transfer in their hand.

I don’t know if more inspectors are the answer to this problem, but Muni is certainly getting screwed out of a lot of fares considering how great their ridership is.

Dan Levitt

San Francisco

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