Here we go...
So some smart ass tells a news reporter how to cheat the new fare gates, and a union official that represents station agents also demonstrates to the news reporter just how easy it is to break the law (fare evasion). All you have to do is wave your hand over the sensors near the swing gates, and the doors open like magic for entry into Muni metro.
Am I surprised by this? Hell no. Even before the new gates were installed, people can easily evade fares at metro stations, they just used the swing gates that was not alarmed or jumped the turnstiles.
Even with the new gates installed, there are still plenty of ways to abuse the system and gain free entry (other than the hand trick), such as tailgating (which happens on BART), or holding the gates open to let a friend in.
I don't know why Muni purchased the automatic door flaps for the system, it was a bad choice. Since Muni metro gates are supposed to be locked when entering the system (until a valid media is paid), and unlocked upon exiting, the hand cheating exploit makes it simple for someone to break the law.
The door flap system can only work if the gates acted exactly like BART's does, a ticket must be used for entry, and the same ticket used for exiting; no hand motion will open the gates.
But, if Muni decided to keep the brand new equipment and exchange the doors for turnstiles, the problem gets solved because the user cannot wave their hand as the gate won't magically unlock to gain entry.
The primary reasons why Muni bought the new gates is because:
- The coin slot turnstiles was getting really old. They are from when the metro system first started about 30 years ago.
- Maintenance is a serious pain in the ass for the old turnstiles. Look at BART, nearly a decade ago, their aging ticketing machines and gates was running on rubber bands, paper clips, and duct tape because replacement parts was not made anymore.
- With the mandatory switch from paper passes to Clipper cards, there's not enough of the old turnstiles with Clipper readers to meet the demand. Clipper could not install the card reader devices on the coin slot turnstiles and can only put them on the exit gates.
Even if Muni had no gates and just a red painted line saying you must have proper proof of payment to enter the system; you just don't blatantly break the law. I have a strong sense of good morals and I don't cheat Muni, even if I don't like the agency.
If you cheat, you will eventually pay with cold hard cash.
Do you know why there's no fare evasion in Japan? It's because they have a good sense of morals, honor and respect. People know that breaking the law and getting caught brings dishonor to themselves and their family, and the family is the most important factor to every person.
SF Traffic Code section 127 mentions the fines for fare evasion:
- First offense: $75
- Second offense within one year: $250
- Third offense within one year: $500