Thursday, May 20, 2010

Metro Transit loses $3.2 million per year to fare evasion

PubliCola had the scoop on a King County Metro report showing how much fare evasion costs the transit agency. More media are reporting Wednesday on it.

The numbers are pretty staggering: About 53,000 riders per week refuse to pay a fare and 33,000 pay only a partial fare, costing Metro about $3.2 million annually, according to the report.

The report will be discussed more in detail Wednesday afternoon during a Regional Transit Committee meeting.

The report may become fodder for those who would like to see the downtown Ride Free Area eliminated. More than half of transit operators surveyed in report cited that as one of their top three priorities for cracking down on fare evasion. The reason: Riders who board downtown don't pay until they get off outside the RFA, which makes it easier to avoid paying.

Just to be clear: Reducing fare evasion would do little to solve Metro's projected budget shortfalls (in the hundreds of millions). Metro's farebox recovery, or the operating costs recovered through bus fares, is only about 20 percent.

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