The impending fare increase for cash riders was approved back in April 2018, but now that it’s just a few weeks away, “transit justice” advocates point out it’s a back-door version of a regressive tax.
Muni will cap off its June hot-weather meltdown with — stop us if you’ve heard this one before — a July 1 fare increase of nearly 7%. But as Muni Diaries explains, the 25-cent fare hike only applies to riders who pay in cash. Clipper card and Muni Mobile app users, who already get a discount with $2.50 fare, will see no fare increase when cash riders get slapped with the new $3 transfer fee — meaning there will now be a 50-cent difference between paying with cash or a Clipper card. That’s brought fresh charges of a poverty tax, as Hoodline reports that community groups feel the fare increase is an unfair burden on low-income riders.
Critics of the fare hike certainly have a point in how the Board of Supervisors made a big whoop-de-doo of banning cashless retail stores, but apparently aren’t holding government agencies to the same access-for-everyone standards. South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN) organizer Mary Claire Amable tells Hoodline, “The people who are paying in cash are the people who don't have internet service or phones or credit cards,” and indeed, this seems like a screw-you move aimed at people who can’t won’t use Clipper or a smartphone app.
But SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose disagrees. “The idea behind the 50-cent discount for single-trip fares paid with our Muni Mobile smartphone app or a Clipper card is to encourage Muni riders to use more efficient, convenient and safer payment systems,” he tells Hoodline.
“Safer” is frankly debatable with any smartphone app, considering the recent New York Times report that apps are rampantly selling our location data and god knows what other personal information to networks of shady third-party tracking firms. And the Clipper card is no perfect solution either, with its frequent technical issues, confusing system of Add Value locations, and the “it may take up to 5 days” bullshit of reloading value onto a card online.
But those arguments don’t even address the underlying unfairness of higher fares for cash customers. Sup. Vallie Brown, who introduced the measure banning cashless businesses, said through a spokesperson that this is no double standard because of Muni’s “existing programs for vulnerable folks,” such as the Free Muni for Youth, Free Muni for Seniors, and Free Muni for People with Disabilities programs.
A lot of people are just ignoring San Fran's fare-evasion collection system ...https://t.co/PQDCwQiZ8n— Nicole Gelinas 🚌🚆🚇🚲🇺🇸🇫🇷 (@nicolegelinas) June 11, 2019
That said, we expect some riders will find a way around the July 1 fare increase to $3.