Photo Credit: Flickr User CBCastro
Once in a while MUNI has a little good news to report…our friends at the Chronicle report that fare collection is up – meaning MUNI is collecting more of the money they actually are owed. As we’ve talked about, MUNI fare and parking meter collection has traditionally been abysmal – akin to one refusing paychecks 70% of the time, then wondering why one has no money for rent or food.
The increase can be attributed to a variety of reasons – more people are riding MUNI when gas prices go up, and cable car fare collection has been increased significantly as well. It helps that they’ve made it easier to pay for a cable car fare by spending the nickels to staff kiosks to buy tickets. The agency is also selling more passes as well.
There was a lot of clucking of toungues a few weeks ago when people were complaining that fare inspectors “cost too much” because they weren’t pulling in the fines to pay their salaries. That, however, is a foolish way to view the situation. Fines are not mainline revenue sources – they are punishments designed to correct future behavior.
More to the point, if the only way success is to be gauged is to “get more fines issued” then it would have behooved MUNI to make it impossible to buy a pass or pay a fare, and simply write $60 citations to everyone in its path. Sure, paying $60 to go from the Sunset to the ballpark would be a total rip off, but hey, it’s “money” right?
No transit system in the world makes every dollar off the farebox, but if MUNI can collect more and more of the money it’s already owed, at today’s prices, from those who enjoy use of the system, they can avoid circling the “higher fares/cutting service” drain that the good people at SPUR have reported on in the past.
In the meantime, I’m going to toss out an idea to the Smart People at the SFMTA for a local revenue source that doesn’t involve tickets, fines or beating people over the head: bulk sales of MUNI passes to every college, trade school, heck any school in town.
Think about it: MUNI could negotiate a bulk sales rate to all the colleges and schools. They’d have a revenue stream that they could have some predictability with, that is independent of the folks in Sacramento or Washington.
The schools could give the passes away for free to their students, or simply do a pass through, with the discount. Either way, students of all ages could enjoy the benefits of a discount pass, and MUNI would have a better way to raise money for itself.
That’s just one idea…I have to believe in a city with so many Smart People, we can come up with some ways to fund MUNI on the local level, with stable sources, and in ways that do not punish one group of people over the other.
The phrase “yes we can” is rather popular these days…can San Francisco do better? We’ll see.