SFMTA cracking down on fare evasion

May 13, 2024
The agency plans to hire three dozen fare inspectors once the FY 25 budget goes into effect, as fare evasion has increased by about eight percent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) plans to hire three dozen fare inspectors once its fiscal year (FY) 2025 budget goes into effect. The agency has seen a rise in fare evasion during the past several years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency notes around 12 percent of riders on Muni Metro who should have paid a fare did not. The agency believes that number has grown to just more than 20 percent currently. 

SFMTA is cracking down on fare evasion as ridership continues to grow. The agency says ridership is up to 76 percent of pre-pandemic levels, as of March 2024. However, due to the rise in fare evasion, the agency notes it’s not reaping the full financial benefit of the ridership recovery.  

The fare inspectors work on routes and lines throughout the entire Muni system to encourage compliance and increase fare revenue. The inspectors also help riders by: 

  • Providing information about the agency’s fares, including its discount pass programs.   
  • Educating anyone who hasn’t paid, instead of just citing them.  
  • Informing riders about supportive services for those who may be experiencing homelessness.   
  • Encouraging safety and security on Muni, even though they aren’t part of law enforcement.   

SFMTA notes there are many ways to pay Muni fares, including with cash, Clipper and the Muni Mobile app. Discount fares and passes are available for certain riders.   

Some passengers are allowed to ride Muni for free. Young people 18 and under ride for free and don’t need any kind of pass or special ticket. Seniors with lower incomes, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness can apply for passes to ride for free.  

The agency notes many of its programs allow riders to pay before boarding. For example:  

  • With Muni Mobile, riders can activate their ticket in the app and don’t need to tap or show the operator anything.  
  • If riders buy single or multi-day visitor passports, they only need to tap if they load them onto a Clipper card.  
  • If riders transfer from one route or line to another after paying cash, they can board without showing the operator their paper ticket.   
  • Tickets to events at the Chase Center in downtown San Francisco, Calif., include unlimited rides on Muni, except for the cable cars. There is no need to tap or show anything. 

SFMTA notes the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is working to update Clipper card technology, which will allow the agency to offer more fare options and passes on Clipper, as well as riders will be able to tap a credit card to pay fares. The agency is hoping that change results in more people tagging card readers when they board and all riders feeling more confident that their fellow passengers are paying their fair share.