SF Muni is Finally Called Out for Racist, Targeted POP Behavior Thanks to Arizona

Thursday, May 13, 2010 , , 2 Comments

It's sad that it took Arizona to get Muni to admit its POP campaign targets "poor" neighborhoods in San Francisco (if such a thing exists, Bayview notwithstanding).

SF Gate:

Muni has temporarily halted its biggest weapon against fare evasion - saturation campaigns in which fare inspectors and sometimes police officers check everyone on a bus or rail car to make sure they've paid up or have a Fast Pass - because some have apparently mistaken them for immigration raids.

"There was confusion surrounding the uniformed presence," said Kristen Holland, a Muni spokeswoman. Muni operates under a proof of payment - or POP - system in which riders are required to have a transfer, pass or properly debited Translink card while riding transit. The agency employs a force of fare inspectors who typically work in teams of two, but starting last summer, Muni began saturation inspections using teams of eight to 10 fare inspectors and two to four San Francisco police officers.

A total of 130 saturation inspections between July and March managed to check 326,293 passengers and issue 3,348 citations, which Holland said led to fewer fare evaders.

But some people complained that the saturation inspections were racist or classist, focused only at poorer neighborhoods; however, the saturation inspections have been held citywide.

"Muni fare inspection is in place to promote fare compliance and for no other reason," said agency Executive Director Nathaniel Ford. "We look forward to working with the (Immigrant Rights Commission) to ensure that our program is more sensitive to these issues."

Commission representatives did not return a call for comment, but said in a press release that they appreciated the action.

Read: If you can get past the driver, you can get wherever you want to go on Muni and the Bus Gestapo can't get you. I wouldn't expect this to last, this is one of Muni's very favorite wastes of money. Either Muni representative Kristen Holland is lying or just doesn't know what the real numbers are, going instead by the SFMTA's manufactured figures that don't expose POP for the total joke that it is.

Knowing SFMTA agents and SFPD do target certain Muni lines crossing through less-than-overpriced areas (again, I take issue with the word "poor" in this town), if one wanted to manipulate this it would be pretty easy. Like, say, completely theoretically: jumping off at 18th and Mission, walking up to 15th and Mission if riding the 14 Mission without paying - drivers on this line are practically Xanax'ed out and will very rarely even interact with riders, let alone hassle anyone getting on the back of the bus.

But who has to worry about that? Free for all, and it still does not solve the POP targeting problem, only delays solving it for a bit. Watch Muni whine and moan about all the lost fares it isn't getting because it isn't out there scaring poor people into paying their ever-increasing fares.

I'd also check out the SF Gate story to read about the new 3 heads and 6 arms we've got squatting in front of City Hall - I caught a glimpse of it the other day and thought the aliens were here. Turns out it's a pretty awesome, large, and religiously-offensive piece of Shanghai art, hopefully the City gets a lot of shit from, uh, the religious nuts that we don't have.

And please don't miss Gavin's lesson in "Muni math":

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


Anonymous said...

I rode the Denver light rail today. A uniformed person asked to see my pass. I showed her my pass. That's all I have to say. Thank you.


In any other city, that would be more than reasonable. But here in SF, we have a bit of a problem.

1) fare evasion is not a problem when we've got the good ole SF bubble in full lather. When I came here in 1999, it was almost "trendy" to get on the back of the bus. Everyone does it and drivers do not enforce the policy. If they do, it is sporadic.

2) the POP program wastes $3 million a year and only recovers $800,000 a year from fines (if I have my numbers right, I'd have to look those up to be sure). It is a known fact among Muni riders that POP "enforcers" stick to low-income neighborhoods, though if I recall correctly, the worst fare evaders back in the day were business people or douchey Marina asshats.

3) There is a real "scare" campaign going on on Muni. They sanction roving "gangs" of bullies (outside of the SFMTA agents and SFPD that enforce fare evasion programs) to harass and chide Muni riders. What is the use of that? They hire rowdy kids to punk Muni riders into paying their fares.

But good for you for doing the right thing anyway :)