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Thursday, May 14, 2009

After the Muni Budget Deal - Fare Inspectors are Still a Major Waste of Taxpayer Money

In some developments last night, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the revised budget for SF Muni. That means $2 cash fares, and the end or modification of many lines on the system.

This looks like the bad old days when Mayor Frank Jordan got hated upon for hiking fares and wiping out transfers. In just a matter of months, the fares were back to normal and transfers flowed freely once again.


But what caught my eye this morning while eating my breakfast at home: The Muni Fare Inspectors we all dislike.

In this CBS5/KPIX video, Phil Matier reports that Muni currently has a 46 member fare inspector force and wanted to hire an additional 47 more. After Muni did some deal making with the Board of Supervisors, Muni is now permitted to only hire 14 people.

So let me get this right, you are keeping the 46 people already hired and only cut back on hiring more people? Where does the keyword BUDGET come into mind for Muni? Muni should be doing a HIRING FREEZE on fare inspectors, not hiring more (regardless if it is a reduced number).

Even with 46 full-time fare inspectors right now, what a joke! They don't ride the buses, and all they do is monitor the metro system. 90% of their force are watching over the 9 subway stations and some of the outdoor platform stations. The remaining are typically at AT&T Park after the baseball games.

If Muni is deciding to cut bus lines that will impact the poor and the disabled, why the hell would you keep hiring more fare inspectors and retain your current staff?

Here's a short list of wasteful things our tax dollars spend on fare inspectors:
I've mentioned it many times, Muni does not need fare inspectors to work in pairs; or, If they really want to make a useful force in pairs, they need to lay-off at least half of their force and replenish the loss with people without ticket issuing authority and willing to work for a simple wage without benefits (college students are perfect). An inspection of a metro train does not require two ticket issuing people, just one person who writes the tickets and the other non-ticket issuing authority person who simply checks on people.

Let's do some simple math:
  • In one of my earlier postings, I calculated that an average each fare inspector writes in tickets is $9,844.64 in one year. Their annual salary is at least $30,000+ and does not include benefits. Actually, I was incorrect about their salary, they actually make between $52,000 and $64,000.
  • If Muni cut half of its force and hired low wage college students to be non-ticket writing inspectors, the average for ticket writing fare inspectors would likely double, making each dollar Muni spends on fare enforcement worthwhile.
We the citizens always joke about Muni on a daily basis, but we would not be joking around if Muni took themselves much more seriously than the crap we the passengers face every single day. If we hired a general manager or CEO with some real street smarts for less than what Nat Ford makes ($300,000+), we'd have a much better transit system with a much smaller deficit.


Anonymous said...

Given that metro trains have 4 exits, I think that having them work in pairs is fairly reasonable. If they didn't then the evaders could easily move opposite the direction of the inspector and make it out.

Whole Wheat Toast said...

Definitely I don't see the need for more fare inspectors on the subway, put them on the buses for once, and make sure they do their job instead of flaming on photographers like Inspector #32

Erik said...

Working in pairs means there is at least one witness to anything that happens.