Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The T tells two tales

Spotted an interesting detail in the Metro article, Is the MBTA offering a free ride for some?:
T officials estimate that system-wide fare evasion accounts for less than 1.5 percent of all boarding, representing roughly $5 to $7 million in revenue each year.
This is the first time I've seen an official number ever referenced. An old Boston Globe article (cached), written just before Charlie was fully implemented, has this to say:
Thus, Pesaturo cites the industry ``leakage" standard of 3 to 6 percent of revenue when asked how much the T has previously lost to fare evasion, putting it at between $4 and $9 million in fiscal year 2006 on the subway lines alone.
Congratulations, folks. Fare evasion at less than half of the lower bound of the industry standard! I guess that means the painful front door-only policy wasn't really necessary?

I'm just speculating, but perhaps the situation is something more like this: when angry riders get upset at seeing instances of fare evasion, the T tells them what they want to hear. And when others want to know if the $203 million investment in fancy new automated faregates was worthwhile, the T also tells them what they want to hear. Unfortunately, these two tales are at odds. So which one is it?

1 comment:

  1. Not sure about American industry standards, but in Vancouver 3.25% fare evasion is leading to the installation of faregates on the subway and the ferry; Translink claims it'll save money, though I'm skeptical. In Zurich the fare evasion is 2%, and that's considered an example of POP success.

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