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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Now There's a Way to Cheat New Muni Fare Gates - Who Cares?

Courtesy of Stanley Roberts of KRON channel 4 news, now there's a way to cheat the Muni fare gates and I could really not give much of a damn; but since I report on Clipper and the changes that comes forth, you the readers expect to learn about my point of view.

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:
  1. The coin slot turnstiles was getting really old. They are from when the metro system first started about 30 years ago.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
So, for you who wants to try this stupid trick, is it really worth getting caught? As Muni says, please pay your "fare share."


eggowong said...

Ahhh, so there is a sensor that detects whether a person is standing in front of the flaps or not. I could've saved some seconds and embarassment if I had known earlier as I could not figure out how to exit the faregates at Civic Center earlier Friday night.

I agree with you about those flaps; they look real cheesy and don't seem to be effective at stopping fare evaders. The turnstiles were the best as they would allow one to exit but unless you paid your fare, it would remain locked.

Anonymous said...

They should have just used free standing card readers without any kind of gate (like they do on the Seattle Link for ORCA) - I imagine they would have been much cheaper and served nearly the same purpose.

Anonymous said...

morals, honor and respect: Amen!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the system should have moved to 'barrier free' instead of spending a ton of money on faregates and continuing to have station attendants.

Anonymous said...

Heck, even you can inadvertently evade fare. I walked and tagged too fast at Powell when I was behind someone. I didn't realize I didn't paid the fare until I was way the heck out in West Portal and tried to find out how much time I had left on the transfer.

Jim said...

Didn't Muni opt-in to putting readers on the exit side of the fare gates? I assume at some point, Muni plans on activating a tagging out requirement...

Akit said...

Jim: It's impossible for Muni to force people to tag-out. People will still pay cash to the metro operator and get a paper transfer. So, how are those going to get out of the underground metro stations?

Anonymous said...


Your standard response seems to be that the old fare gates sucked. I'd say that almost everyone agrees with you, however that is not why people are upset.


If we are going to spend tax dollars on replacing an aging system, that is great. But more care should have been put into evaluating the systems other cities have and how well they work.