Today, the Examiner tells us about how Muni riders are still blatantly skipping out on paying their bus fare, which is costing the transit agency some $19 million in lost revenue.
And to put that number into context, Muni's budget deficit this year is a staggering $21 million. That deficit potentially translates into fewer bus routes and crappier service.
So doing some back-of-the-napkin calculations, we concluded that if everyone paid their fare for each trip on the bus, then the agency's budget gap would shrink to only a shade over $2 million.
"That's the math," says Paul Rose, spokesman for Muni. "I'd say $19 million is a big chunk of money that goes directly toward operating the Muni system."
Rose insists that things are getting better -- more people are paying fares than they were in previous years, thanks to those Muni officers who are writing tickets to fare thieves. A new report shows that in 2009 roughly 9.5 percent of Muni passengers boarded trains and buses without paying. That number dropped to 8.6 percent in 2010.
"Things are getting better," Rose tells SF Weekly. "We are using this opportunity to examine procedures and make any modifications going forward that might help."
Walter Scott, secretary-treasurer for the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, told the Ex that Muni cares more about getting trains moving on time than it does about tracking down fare thieves.
"Passengers have been skipping out on fares forever," he says. If Muni doesn't
care, why should the operator risk his neck to collect a fare?
"Other transit agencies do not play with fare evaders, but our management has never had our back," Scott says.