8 years late, 3 Fare Inspectors Surplus

Catch Me If You Can
Photo by Troy Holden

For the first time in memory there were fare inspectors at the O’Farrell and Van Ness (38 outbound) stop last night. I applaud this attempt. Again, this is the first time I recall ever seeing inspectors there and I have been taking the bus home from work (where I get on at O’Farrell and Van Ness) for nearly 8 years. But there was not just one inspector, or two…there were four (4) inspectors. I was so overwhelmed at the show of force I asked one of them if they were all ‘working’. Yes, they were all working, as I witnessed when the bus approached. Does it really take four inspectors to make sure everybody pays? I would think one would do the trick. Heck, you don’t need inspectors if the bus drivers did their job and not allow people to enter the back of the bus. I just returned from Vancouver where I saw a bus driver physically get up and walk to the back of the bus to boot somebody off for entering through the back and not paying.

With Muni’s budget woes there is a need to make better use of the money and services already there. Collecting every fare is one step. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses another.

Photo by Flickr user james94103.

This diary came to the Muni Diaries Gmail inbox from Kevin Adler. If you’ve got Muni or BART stories, gripes, or transit news tips, you can email us or submit stories here.


  • Liz

    I’ve seen 38-Geary drivers kick people off for boarding through the back door — even if they had monthly passes or transfers. There’s one woman who always bellows, “USE THE FRONT! USE THE FRONT!” She’s scary.

  • My favorite fare checker is The Large Friendly Lesbian. She has a super crew cut and an “I’m really easy going as long as you do things my way” way about her, but she’s always very pleasant. “good morning folks, can I see your fast passes and transfers please” and then she thanks everyone. I don’t mind showing my pass to her. Then there’s another lady who has no sense of humor. My busmate and I always try to crack a joke when it’s our turn to get checked. She doesn’t think it’s funny.

  • eugenia

    I was on the 49 tonight and counted at least eight people who entered through the back at one stop. How many of them do not have fast passes? Who knows. But I haven’t seen a fare inspector on the 47 or 49 yet.

  • Jackie

    I can only imagine what being a “Bus Driver” in the city could be like. It seems to be a relentless job. I’m not too concerned with the policeing of the back door verses arriving safely to my destination. Think about it? Is it really worth the Driver jepordizing his/her or our safety for a buck-fifty? What about the stress factor? Come on think about it, would you do the job? Throughout the years of riding, I’ve witnessed a few disturbing incidents some involving fare disputes. I was appalled that the offender(s) verbally cursed, spit, struck or threw things at the driver(s). How degrading is that? Not to mention scary. Usually by the time the inspector or police arrived the offender has fled. The majority of the time we the riding public are in shock, look bewildered and rarely offer any aid. Only to be more concerned with our own safety & how this has delayed us. Yes, it is an inconvenience of sorts, but have we become so desensitized to acknowlege this is another human being? Whom we unconsciously entrusted our lives with daily. Don’t get me wrong, I do have my moments with the transit system. There are many areas for improvement, but for the most part honestly we are pretty spoiled with 24-hour service. How many other cities offer that?

  • Erik

    I would rather the bus drivers slacked off on fare enforcement to give their full attention to driving the bus. They have enough stuff to worry about already.

  • @Jackie Maybe MUNI drivers should get tasers. No transfer/fast pass, refuse to pay your fare, but still want a free ride? No problem, meet taser, it’ll help you get a free ride to the hospital.

    Seriously though, all the negative points you mentioned seem to be part of the job. I don’t condone shoplifting in stores, nor do I condone it on MUNI. If drivers were more adamant about collecting fares, maybe people would stop thinking not paying is acceptable. Most drivers seem to not care much about their jobs, and as a result, the paying passengers suffer. I’m curious as to how much revenue is lost due to people skipping on their fares.

    With that said, as passengers, you’re right, we are pretty much useless when stuff happens. There should be things we can do to help out. Maybe MUNI should make an approved passenger action list, which would include the following things we can do:
    Trip people entering through the back door.
    Handcuff to the bus shelter people who physically assault drivers.
    Hogtie people who throw stuff at the drivers.
    Ducktape shut the mouths of verbal abusers/spitters.
    Throw personal music devices out the window (only if in use and audible to the entire bus).

    • fare-collection will never be 100 percent, but an effective, and smart, regimen of inspectors can help. the burden shouldn’t be on the driver any more than it needs to be. you would think it’s totally up to the drivers to collect fare, and a large part of admission to the bus does fall into the realm of operator responsibility. but then, i ask you to think of the riding public. sorry if that sounds elitist, but basically every day, multiple times a day all over the city, operators are dealing with a crowd that would make the DMV look like a walk in the park. and not the sketchy part of the park 😉

  • whir

    Boarding at the back of the bus, assuming you have a transfer of fast pass, is better for everyone. It decreases the “dwell time” of the bus (eg, the amount of time the bus needs to stop at the curb) because you aren’t clogging up the front entrance where riders who pay cash need to be. This speeds up the entire bus route. Same with exiting through the rear of the bus – if you exit through the front doors, you’re preventing people from boarding and the bus need to stay at its stop longer.

  • Brian

    It requires at least 3 inspectors becuase people would exit through the back doors while the inspector came in through the fornt. In addition, even if the driver locked all doors, it would take forever for 1 inspector to check a 38- Geary (with im guessing at least 60 passenges). Also, if there were one, a gang of friends could probably overpower the inspector.

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