Does Muni Engage in Equitable Fare Inspection?

MUNI cop makes a fare bust.
Photo by Rick Audet

Fare inspection is many people’s pet Muni topic. “UnemployedDragon” sent us this gripe concerning what he feels is an uneven distribution of TFIs (transit fare inspectors):

I’m really wondering about the distribution of fare inspection across the Muni system. I’ve had reason to ride both the light-rail and buses a great deal this summer. I’ve only been subject to fare inspection on the T-Third. I’ve regularly ridden the 22-Fillmore, the 47-Van Ness, the 45-Union/Stockton, the 14-Mission, the 9-San Bruno, and the 33-Stanyan. I’ve never seen fare inspectors on any of those buses. Even on the T, I’ve only seen fare inspectors in the very middle of the day, never at night.

Where were the fare inspectors this past Tuesday at around 2pm, as a hoard of people got on the back door of the 49 at Market and Van Ness (and there was not anyone boarding using the lift for wheelchairs, I checked). Where are the fare inspectors when elderly passengers don’t tag their Clipper cards, when I’ve seen younger people frequently asked to to produce their Clipper card to be checked? Where are the fare inspectors on the F Line (my guess is that the city doesn’t want to hassle tourists…bad move).

All of this leads me to think that the likelihood of being subject to fare inspection is greater on the light rail, and the T specifically, than it is on the buses. This is not right…fare inspection should be a likely occurrence on any Muni vehicle.

Good points are raised here. So we asked the folks at SFMTA for more information about whether and how TFIs are spread out throughout the Muni system. All they had to say was, “Without getting into specific deployment strategies, our TFIs are deployed by police district. They coordinate with SFPD as they patrol the system.” That’s it?

We still want to know:

  • Are TFIs deployed proportionally to the number of fare evasions in specific police districts?
  • Does it depend on staffing abilities of the district?
  • Is there an effort to deploy TFIs to all lines and districts?

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