Busted on MUNI without a Pass? Guilty by Default

200610061612I was just given a citation for riding the MUNI without a pass.

Did I pay the fare? Of course I did. Not paying to ride MUNI would be unethical to say the least. Unfortunately I left the transfer at my barber shop.

The problem is that the law leaves no way for me to prove my innocence. You’re not given a ticket for failing to pay the fare but for failing to show proof of paying the fare. Draconian to say the least and certainly unamerican.

Even if I go back to the barber shop and get my fare I’ve still broken the law.

Let the punishment fit the crime. I failed to show a piece of paper. If that’s my only crime you would think that the punishment would be small. I doubt it – I expect that this ticket will be in the $200-300 range. (Anyone know for sure?)

Centralized benefits with diffuse costs. The state judiciary gets to continue to make money here but it just isn’t worth fighting for the average citizen. I’ll make more than the $300 in the time it takes to fight the case (going to court, hiring a lawyer, etc).

This is the second time this has happened to me. The first is when I was coming home from Rojo and forgot to take my pass out of the dispenser at the downtown MUNI station (I had a lot on my mind at the time).

I still paid the fare and did nothing wrong.

At this point I could probably stop paying for MUNI altogether and just pay the fines and still break even. Of course I won’t do that because it would be unethical.

I could of course start buying monthly passes but honestly I think I want to stop using MUNI. If this is the way they cheat their passengers then I’ll just buy a car.

Update: Like my logo at the right? I’m totally going to make it into a t-shirt!


  1. I think it’s $90, but don’t quote me!

  2. Sorry, I’m with MUNI on this one.

    Allowing someone to later show ‘proof of payment’ that they didn’t have while riding would give every fare-jumper a free out.

    And, the punishment is roughly proportional to the crime of non-payment, as adjusted by the cahnce of getting caught: a fare-jumper saves $1.50, but faces a 1-to-100 to 1-to-200 chance of being ticketed, meaning a fine of $150-$300 is required to incent payment.

    Maybe you can make the case that you have a forgetfulness disability that makes it impossible for you to keep track of small slips of paper, and get the fine thrown out as discriminatory.

    Tangentially related: check out the Hungarian movie ‘Kontrol’ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373981/) some time, set among fare-slip checkers on the Budapest subway system. People pretty much just ignore them.






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