SF Examiner: A Day in the Life of a Muni Fare Inspector

Photo by Joe Gratz

Muni fare inspector might be the most thankless job since meter maid. And it probably generates something close to the same level of anger, annoyance, and utter disdain.

But sometimes, you need to put yourself in their shoes. The Examiner’s Jessica Kwong takes a look at what it’s like trying to enforce Muni’s fare system.

“You’re f—ing this, you’re f—ing that,” said Sgt. Larry Nichol, supervisor for the other two men. “I used to keep a journal of what people say to me.”

In the nine months that [Stan] Lui, 33, has been a fare inspector, his impression from the public he has direct contact with is they generally don’t like him and his colleagues in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Proof of Payment Unit.

“I hear from people that the No. 1 hated ones are parking control officers, police officers and fare inspectors,” Lui said. “That’s how I see it, because when people verbally abuse you, that means they don’t like you.”

Inspectors are catching fare evaders throughout The City and offenders aren’t race-, gender-, age- or income-specific. They’ve cited homeless individuals to men in fancy suits who keep a charged Clipper cards but don’t tag them.

“Sometimes you hear people go, ‘Do I look like a fare evader?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know, what does a fare evader look like?'” Nichol said.

Fare evasion results in an estimated $19 million of lost revenue annually for the SFMTA, and without the $6.5 million fare inspector program, that amount of money lost would be “much worse,” according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.

Check out the rest of Kwong’s article at SFExaminer.com. And don’t forget to pay your fare!


  • Susan Ruhne via Facebook

    How do we suggest routes for them to check? I used to wait for a bus at SB Park Presidio & Geary… watched multiple folks board the 28L each morning via the backdoor & not even ATTEMPT to scan their clipper cards….. vs having them sweep the 1BX at Divisidero at least 3 different mornings & not find a single evader on a double length bus!

  • Erin Boylan via Facebook

    My son got a ticket on the T. He got on the back, had his two dollars in his hand and,was on his,way to the front to pay. He got a ticket, yet a bunch of brothers got on didn’t pay & they didn’t get a ticket. Thank God he protested it & would have still had to pay, but a woman he knew from taking the bus went with him. Talk about discrimination!!

  • Jeremy Baker via Facebook

    Wahhhhh I’m a bleeding heart and gonna whine and cry when people who didn’t pay for their ride RIGHTFULLY get a ticket WAHHHHHH

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