New data looks into Muni fare inspectors, citations following report some passengers don't pay

ByLyanne Melendez and Lindsey Feingold KGO logo
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Muni to have more fare inspectors as revenue drops: Data
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Muni fare evaders are affecting revenue and the transit agency is running on a deficit. Muni hopes to address the issue with state funds.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Previously, ABC7 found fare evaders on Muni are affecting revenue. Now, a data team analysis of Muni data found the transit organization budgeted for fewer fare inspectors than it did in 2019 before the pandemic -- 45 instead of 50.

As of May 2023, the transit agency had 36 of those employees on the payroll and 23 were active -- meaning some are currently on leave. Nine of the budgeted positions are not filled.

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ABC7 News reporter Lyanne Melendez went to the Chinatown-Rose Pak Muni station to see if any inspectors were asking for verification of payment. She did not find a single one.

RELATED: Are Muni customers paying their fares? Here's a detailed look at SFMTA's deep financial crisis

But Jeffrey Tumlin, head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency that oversees Muni, said that is about to change.

"The good news from the state means that we could continue to hire in critical categories including positions like fare inspectors, parking control officers as well as safety ambassadors," Tumlin said.

Since fiscal year 2019 there has been a sharp decline in citations, which are just now seeing an uptick in fiscal year 2023.

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The California legislature is expected to vote on Thursday to close the operating deficit gap of several transit systems including Muni and BART, because ridership has yet to come back to pre pandemic levels.

The state is expected to provide half of what Muni needs to stabilize its finances.

MORE: Bay Area public transit agencies say they need more state money to survive

"The money covers three years, which buys us time to figure out how do we close the other half of that deficit." San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin said.

One way is to come up with a plan to make sure passengers pay citations when they are caught -- which in fiscal year 2023 were an average of $123 per person.

In an average fiscal year, Muni collects about half of the citations issued.

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"There's funding for robust fare inspections and the reality is that if you don't pay, you're going to end up paying a fine," Supervisor Peskin said.

"If we want Muni to survive, and it is such a critical part of San Francisco, we need to pay our fare share," Tumlin added.

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