22% of New York City Bus Riders Do Not Pay Their Fares

That rate is double the average free-riders in other cities and well above the 3.4% of subway riders who do not pay. Between the subway and bus free-riders, New York City loses $225 million in revenue per year. A reporter riding an NYC bus saw many riders, from a construction worker to an elderly woman with a walker bypass the fare box with the bus driver simply pressing the F5 button on the bus dashboard — F5 is for recording fare evaders.

So, not only do we know it happens, we know exactly how much is being lost. The reasons bus riders do not pay:

1. Do not have the right change.
2. They never get in trouble.
3. Constant fare increases anger them.
4. They do not want to pay for using a system that is unreliable.
5. Trying to manage children.
6. Could not get into my purse in time.
7. Cannot afford the fares.
8. Trying to get to work on time.
9. Bus drivers grow weary of confrontations and they slow them down.
10. Bus drivers are fearful — they do not know who is carrying a knife or a gun, and bus drivers have been killed or injured.

Do the riders feel guilt? Absolutely not! They hate the system.

By looking around the country and world, we can see how cities manage low evasion rates. Paris has an 11% rate, but it has 1,200 staff members on the issue and they hand out one million fines per year to evaders. London has a 1.5% evasion rate largely because the fine is $1,300 per violation. Washington DC has a 14% evader rate, but the city council recently reduced the fine for evasion for fear of harming the poor. Some experts say police officers being on the bus are a deterrent even if they never hand out a citation. Folks just behave better when the police are around.

There are the basics of economics at work here. The free-riders make it more expensive for those who do pay until the cost becomes too high, and then the bus service ends. The tragedy of the commons occurs when the free-riders destroy the commons through rationalizations and trying to artificially remedy economic disparity. if everyone pays, everyone pays less.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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