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.