Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MUNI Still Loosing Money To Alien Fare Evaders

The San Francisco Municipal Railway System is still loosing money to fare evaders. A year ago they promised to reduce fare evasion to 3.9%, but only got it down to 8.6% of riders from 9.5%, but are still loosing $19 million due to evasion, the same amount as 2009.

Muni lost an estimated $19 million in revenue last year to fare evaders — the same amount it missed out on in 2009 when it vowed to crack down on such boarding scofflaws.

A 2009 study found that 9.5 percent of Muni passengers travelled without paying. A 2010 follow-up revealed that the rate of fare evasion had dropped to 8.6 percent. But due to changes in Muni’s fare structure, the transit thieves still sucked $19 million from the agency. Muni currently faces a $21.2 million budget deficit.San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Malcolm Heinicke said Muni appears to be heading in the right direction, based on the drop in evasion rates from 9.5 percent to 8.6 percent.

Spokesman Paul Ross said the agency would continue to work on developing new modifications or improvements to its compliance program.Walter Scott, secretary-treasurer for the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, said if passengers board without paying, drivers usually ask for the correct fare. But after that, they usually have no recourse but to keep moving.

Scott said other transit agencies would lock the doors and call security officers, but Muni is more concerned with its on-time performance rates than with deterring such behavior.“Other transit agencies do not play with fare evaders, but our management has never had our back,” said Scott.

“Passengers have been skipping out on fares forever. If Muni doesn’t care, why should the operator risk his neck to collect a fare?”

Of the passengers observed cheating the system last year, 35 percent simply boarded the vehicle without paying.

Following the 2009 report, the SFMTA promised to crack down on fare cheats. It began working with the San Francisco Police Department on saturation programs, which entailed stopping transit vehicles and checking each passenger for their fare, a move that was criticized by immigrant and minority passengers. The agency also focused more on afternoon and evening enforcement and put extra officers on bus and historic streetcar lines.

Some Muni decisions may actually be hurting enforcement. Last year, the agency moved the headquarters of its proof-of-payment workers from a downtown location to the agency’s Muni Metro East facility near Third Street. As a result, it now takes fare officers an extra 30 minutes to get to their observation points. Only 41 percent of an officer’s day is now spent enforcing fares, the agency says.

Where they cheat

Muni lines with significant fare evasion rates:

Line Frequency

T-Third Street 31 percent 19-Polk 22 percent

23-Monterey 22 percent 44-O’Shaugnessy 18 percent 108-Treasure Island 16 percent 52-Excelsior 14 percent 14-Mission 14 percent

How they bilk system:

A breakdown of how passengers attempt to cheat: 35 Percentage with no transfer, fare receipt or pass; 23 Percentage with invalid transfer or fare receipt; 17 Percentage who walk away; * 7 Percentage who were observed underpaying fare; 18 Percentage of other infractions

* Passengers walked off transit vehicle immediately after inspectors boarded.

What was unemphasized was that MUNI had an effective enforcement system in opertation, but under attack from racist advocacy and illegal alien advocacy groups, the enforcement program was redesigned to be less effective.

It began working with the San Francisco Police Department on saturation programs, which entailed stopping transit vehicles and checking each passenger for their fare, a move that was criticized by immigrant and minority passengers.

And what the article does not tell you is that the worst lines were those predominately frequented by minorities and illegal aliesn, like the T, 44, 14, and 52 lines.

But the pandering to illegal aliens was explicit back in 2010 when the police were catching thousands of illegals evading the $2.00 fare:

Muni has temporarily halted its effort to saturate transit vehicles with enforcement officers to ensure fares are being paid, following concerns from immigrant and minority communities that they were being unfairly targeted.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency began operations last July with the Police Department to specifically target bus and rail lines with high rates of fare evasion. Using groups of eight to 10 fare inspectors, and two to four police officers, the teams would momentarily stop the lines and force every passenger to show their proof of purchase.

Immigrant rights groups, who have had a strong presence at Muni meetings since the saturation program began, said enforcement officers target non-English-speaking immigrants who don’t understand what they are being cited for, and in other cases issue tickets for fares that expired just minutes before the saturation took place.

Also, there were concerns that the citations — which were decriminalized from the penal code in 2008 — would lead to further penalties from immigration officials. The large number of uniformed officers taking part in the saturation programs often overwhelmed wary minority and immigrant passengers, the rights groups said.

Nathaniel Ford — executive director of the SFMTA, which operates Muni — said the saturation efforts, though successful, generated “unintended consequences.”

“There has been some real fear in the immigrant communities as a result of these operations,” Ford said at the SFMTA’s Policy and Governance Committee meeting Tuesday. “Coupled with some of the national immigration issues, we feel it’s best to put a hold to our saturation program.”

Ford said the SFMTA’s 46 fare inspectors will take about one to two months of sensitivity-training classes while also learning other languages. Currently, 17 of the agency’s 46 inspectors speak a language other than English.

Once those workers are properly trained, the SFMTA will begin resuming its joint saturation efforts with the Police Department.

From July through March, the SFMTA ran 130 saturations —ranging in locations from the Financial District to the Outer Mission district — during which they issued 18,000 citations. The saturations were credited with helping Muni establish a fare evasion rate of 3.5 percent, a reduction from its normal 9.5 percent mark. According to a report issued last year, fare evasion costs the SFMTA about $19 million annually.

The agency will continue to employ the 46 fare inspectors as part of its normal day-to-day operations, though the saturation efforts will not be part of those duties while the program is reviewed.

You know if they were catching blondes on the 30X, there would be no concern about "unintended consequences." It appears that Nathaniel Ford, a black man, was searching for Sherman McCoy, but caught Edwin Ramos, and that was unacceptable. Black brown unity, hate whitey and all that.

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