Where does the jurisdiction end for fare inspectors?

Catch Me If You Can
Photo by Flickr user Troy Holden

Muni rider Andrea sent this tidbit to our inbox just now:

This morning about 8am at Embarcadero Station I saw a Fare Checking Officer check someone’s proof of payment OUTSIDE the POP area.

The man did exit EMB station, and as there was only one Fare Checker checking fares, she didn’t see everyone’s pass. I doubt she saw my pass as it was pretty crowded. I did what most of us did which was take out the pass and hold it out for the Fare Checker to see. Whether she saw me or not is anyone’s guess. The man walked over to Peet’s to get coffee. As he was waiting for his morning latte, the Fare Checker left the POP area and asked the man for his POP. He produced his fast pass without incident.

My question is this, did this man need to show his payment status? He was outside the POP area. If he didn’t have his fastpass on him would his ticket for a violation been valid? Did the Fare Checker have the authority to check someone’s fare outside of the proof of payment area?

So, yeah, what’s the protocol here, eh? Should inspectors have the right to chase people down outside the POP area? Doesn’t that in turn prevent their checking for POP inside the ordained POP section? Our heads are spinning a little over here. Help us out in comments, please.

24 comments

  • Kevin

    It’s not Dukes of Hazzard. It’s not like you just have to make it over the county line and Roscoe P. Coltraine has to give up pursuit. I would imagine that as long as the inspector has a reasonable belief that you were riding the train, he can demand proof of payment. But that is just a hunch.

  • eugenia

    On SFMTA’s site, the POP guideline states:
    “You must have a valid Muni pass, Passport, transfer/fare receipt, or machine-issued ticket during for your entire ride (subway and surface) on all Muni Metro lines (the J, K, L, M, N, S, T, and Metro Ballpark Shuttles) while on the Metro streetcars, and within the fare gates and on the platforms at the Metro subway stations.”

    So the “within the fare gates” part suggests to me that the inspector should not be asking anyone for POP outside the fare gates area.

    More on POP here:
    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/pop.htm

  • DanB

    Sure, a fare inspector can stop you anywhere and ask for proof of payment. It’s doubtful a fine issued outside a POP area would be upheld by a hearing administrator, though, which is why most won’t bother.

  • I dunno, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Dukes of Hazard to me. Just an idle comment from a recovering Southerner.

  • Erik

    If they see you leave the paid area and stop you a few seconds after you walk out then you might have a hard time persuading a judge that you made your pass or transfer irretrievably disappear in those few seconds after you walked through the gate. If you are out of the inspectors’ sight for a minute or two, like if they follow you up to the street or something, then you might be able to convincingly lie about throwing your transfer away on the way out of the station.

  • suckerpunch

    Folks, just pay your fare. Otherwise walk.

  • I personally think it still applies wherever. Surprise attacks from inspectors late in the game seem kind of bogus, but if you jumped the fare, it’s still a no-no five minutes and 20 feet later, you know?

  • DanB

    Suckerpunch: The sky is blue. There are high-end food stores at the Ferry Building. Fisherman’s Wharf has tourists. The N Judah is intentionally tormenting Greg Dewar. It’s fun to point out the bloody obvious just to see our names in blog comments. Whee!

  • John Lenin

    This is absurd. Of course they have no jurisdiction outside of the fare gates and furthermore have no business approaching anyone and demanding anything beyond that perimeter. They are not police officers. And no citizen is under any obligation to present anything at all to a Muni-employed inspector beyond those fare gates. Muni inspectors have the option to contact the SFPD, report the incident, and wait for an officer to arrive and approach the “suspect”.

    • Liz

      Thank you they have absolutely no rights to do anything at all you don’t have to show them any ID and they legally can’t touch you. They are rent a cops!

  • MUNI lover

    Actually the traffic codes ( article 7—Sec. 7.2.101. Fare Evasion Regulations)are quite specific in their language that the Fare Inspectors have the authority “in and about” transit facilities or vehicles. Plus, they have the authority based on their training and certification(PC 832) to issue citations for infractions(such as those for fare evasion) or misdemenaors(for dangerous passenger conduct) that are committed in their presence. This means that what Erik was guessing at was correct; they can check you where ever as long as they witness your presence in the paid area and maintain observation of you until contact.

    • Dave

      If you shoplift in a store and you walk out the front door, you still commited a crime and the store detective can still go after you and detain you. Fare Inspectors are certified state officers, if they observe a person exit a transit vehicle or property, they may ask you for your fare and may also issue a citation.

  • B

    I hate fare inspectors
    !viva muni!

  • ChadPowers

    MUNI Lover where are you getting that info on article 7—Sec. 7.2.101. Fare Evasion Regulations? Esp. the “in and about” part? The version I found here http://www.municode.com/content/4201/14143/HTML/ach007.html#SEC.%207.2.101.

    states, “(d) To fail to display a valid fare receipt or transit pass at the request of any authorized representative of the transit system or duly authorized peace officer while on a transit vehicle or in a Proof of Payment Zone. ”

    And this is from the Muni POP page,
    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/pop.htm
    “You must have valid Proof of Payment when riding on a POP line or while within the paid area of Muni stations. ”

    “Muni Fare Inspectors may ask you for Proof of Payment—a valid Muni pass, Passport, CityPass, transfer/fare receipt, or machine-issued ticket—on board any Muni Metro streetcar—J, K, L, M, N, S, T, or Metro Ballpark Shuttle—for the entire route, not just in the subway. They may also ask for Proof of Payment inside the paid area of Muni Metro subway stations from Embarcadero through West Portal stations (the area within the faregates, including train platforms).”

    I’ve found nothing on any Muni site or in TC 127 or TC 128 that says proof of payment is requried off a transit vehicle or outside a Proof of Payment Zone.

  • muni_lover

    Sure, no problem, Chad. The code you quoted is fourth in a list of a total of 24 codes, I think, that they can issue tickets for.

    Here is the first code in the list, (a), “For any passenger or other person IN OR ABOUT any public transit station (including an outdoor high-level boarding platform or station operated by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District), streetcar, cable car, motor coach, trolley coach or other public transit vehicle to evade any fare collection system or proof of payment program instituted by the Municipal Transportation Agency.” This is clearly for fare evasion and for the proof of payment area.

    Im not sure where the 127 and 128 that you’re talking about are. But I’ve seen the fare inspectors checking all the people coming off the train in front of the Safeway on Market and I like that they do that. Why exactly should they stop doing that but check only the people coming off trains within a paid area? Also, I think it’s ridiculous to think a transfer simply disappears somewhere between the door of the train as you exit and the fare inspector a dozen or so feet away checking everybody coming off; if anybody says they lost their ticket to a fare inspector as they come off the train is just plain lying. Same thing if they’re walking through a turnstyle and out of a paid area.

    Besides California state law is very specific in authorizing officers to issue tickets for infractions committed in the officer’s presence only. I see the fare inspectors doing their work legally and diligently when they check people that they see coming off the bus or train.

    I think that maybe people who ask about the limitations of the authority of the fare inspectors or argue for limiting their authority are either law students or are people who got caught once before by a fare inspector under similar circumstances or are planning cunning evasions. What’s up with that, Chad? What year of study are you?

    • oh, muni_lover, look at you: justifying Tony the Anarchist’s claim that Muni Diaries is just filled, nay, overflowing with pro-fare inspector “worker bees.” i feel as sorry for you as i do for myself. 😉

      • muni_lover

        buzz buzz buzz wha? what?

        Oh it’s you, Jeff. Hey what up brah.

        Frankly, Ive been watching your dialogue with Tony on several issues. Why waste your time? There comes a point when you know that no matter what arguments you are willing to examine together….the other person is who they are , is gonna continue thinking the way they do, and is unfortunately never gonna be any richer for the experience.

        In Tony’s case, age is gonna get him…..oh not the wisdom you think comes with age (and age is a factor here) but when he’s older, say 20 years from now, still running around on his bicycle delivering packages or some other job that’s ‘working for the man’ but allows him to think he’s a maverick and independant (or god this is aweful to think)….or perhaps still living with the ‘rents…….eventually he’s gonna worry about his future because his present is untenable. It will sadly be too late for said young grasshopper as his winter comes and he realizes he’s invested nothing of himself in a system or community that now coldly will not invest in him.

        No. His wisdom will come from the loss of what could have been. That he could have joined a diverse group of people united in one thought of bettering a broken but not unfixable system by exposing constructive differing opinions (and the emphasis is on constructive). That he could have done something. Will we remember him next year or will we remember the airing of some of these really interseting ideas by these really interesting ideas?

        Muni people read this thing, Im positive of it and the recent post on Next Bus confirms it for me.

        • lol. i mostly engaged the young chap for your benefit. ha!

          wait, how does the recent NextBus post confirm that Muni people read Muni Diaries? We still want infiltration, and only have glimpses of it now and then.

  • muni_lover

    That guy Mike whatsis who’s in charge of Next Bus responded to a posting. And actually that lady from city hall, I think it was, who responded to the city hall meeting on violence actually confirmed it for me even though she was from city hall that the people we wish could read these posts actually do.

    Dude, Im glad of your guys’ blog here. I think that the more reasoned the arguments written in this forum and the more hilarious (DanB, you make me pee!), the more likely that something will get through to the powers that be. I’ll bet you some of them even take printouts of your best ideas into meetings and cause some lower level heads to roll after some of these catastrophic fails.

    • Oh, Michael Smith from NextBus. Yeah, we just called him up one day for the interview. I guess I was thinking Muni/MTA people. Pretty sure Judson True reads it, but that’s, like, part of his job. Kinda. Anyway, thanks for the love. We love doing it, and, like you, relish the healthy discussions that sometimes take place.

  • Roger A

    Anyone that stops me OUTSIDE paid fare gate area will be asked “Are you detaining me? What is the charge?” – As I consider that unlawful detention and being held against my will for a crime I did not commit.

    Additionally, if that happened to me in the case above, I could have just said, I was in the free area checking to see what time a train arrives as Im waiting for a friend, or checking BART fares between stations to let a friend flying into SFO know, so he/she can meet me in downtown.

    Point blank, if any transit fare inspector harasses me, there will be a large issue and civil suit brought against them for unlawful detention and defamation.

  • John Marino

    Being asked for proof of payment – doesn’t it go against Probable Cause?” I would think the inspectors need a cause to stop and ask me for proof of payment. If I am on the platform and they ask – can’t I say – what is your “probable casue” for asking me that? I am confused becasue isn’t it (being asked to show proof) violating my rights and they have no casue to stop and ask me…..or , do I surrender that when I get on MUNI (surrender my ability to request “probable casue”)?

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