Fewer riders evading Muni fares

A report by San Francisco’s transportation agency shows fewer riders are evading paying their fares despite implementation of a systemwide all-door boarding policy two years ago.

Staff from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency completed a fare survey this year of over 50,000 Muni riders to see how they were boarding Muni vehicles systemwide and how they were paying — or if they paid at all.

The report showed fare evasion rates decreased from 9.5 percent in 2009 to an estimated 7.9 percent in 2014.

SFMTA Performance Manager Jason Lee, who oversaw the implementation of Muni’s all door boarding policy, said the estimated fare losses due to fare evaders also decreased from $19.2 million in 2009 to $17.1 million in 2014.

Critics of the policy worried that all-door boarding would be an open invitation for fare evaders, but the report shows that more riders are paying their fares, with fare revenues increasing over the last four years.

The SFMTA has beefed up its number of transit fare inspectors over the last two years from 41 to 54, according to the report.

Lee said to provide citywide coverage of fare inspectors, the transit agency developed a deployment method where transit inspectors rotate through different police districts.

The report said that the strategy is for Muni riders expect to see a fare inspector at anytime and anywhere. It also said that the purpose of fare inspectors is not to recover costs through citations, but to improve fare compliance.

Fare inspectors issued 72,426 citations during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which is about $2.5 million in citation revenue, according to the report.

Lee also said that Muni riders have grown accustomed to boarding the rear doors of Muni buses. The transit agency looked at nine of its busiest Muni stops and saw 54 percent of riders boarding the rear doors compared to 29 percent before the implementation of the policy.

With a more even distribution of riders boarding the front and rear doors, Muni buses are spending less time sitting at bus stops waiting for passengers to board, said Lee:

“As a result the dwell times have fallen by approximately 38 percent or about one and a half second per boarding. That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up.”

The report even showed Muni buses moving slightly faster, up from 8.41 miles per hour in 2011 to 8.56 mies per hour to 2014.

Lee said the transit agency achieved its goals for the all door boarding policy:

“Our customers are taking less time to board, our buses are moving a bit faster and our fare compliance continues to improve.”