Banishing habitual fare evaders from Muni? 

Talk about banning habitual fare evaders from the Muni system occurred Thursday during a Board of Supervisors Government Audits and Oversight Committee.

The committee was holding a hearing on Budget Analyst Harvey Rose’s 10-month old audit of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s proof-of-payment program.

Among the audit’s recommendations was to “develop a policy and program for excluding habitual offenders from the Muni transit system.”

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell inquired during the hearing whether other mass transit agencies do this, and if so, how? She was told other agencies do exclude offenders, but more details would be provided to her later.

The SFMTA responded in the audit that it did not agree with the recommendation. “It is unlikely that this recommendation is operationally feasible in The City’s transit system,” the agency commented. “Enforcement of any court ordered banishment for the Muni transit system would have to be administered by local law enforcement.”

But during the hearing, James Dougherty, the SFMTA’s director of safety and security enforcement, told Maxwell that a prohibition of using transit was used for a transit system he worked for previously and seemed to suggest it has benefits.

“In my prior employment we did have the benefit of exclusion,” Dougherty said. “We called it a civil system where a fare inspector could issue a citation, and typically if someone had been issued three citations, then they were subject to exclusion from the transit system for 30 days and actually progressively the exclusion could grow. ... And if an individual was found riding the system, we could then criminally charge them for trespassing. So it did put, certainly, some teeth in that.”

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