Opinion: Fare Evasion Is a Red Herring

The loss of revenue from fare evasion is a drop in the bucket compared to the fiscal cliff facing major U.S. transit agencies.

1 minute read

September 13, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Silver turnstiles at a subterranean subway station

aetb / Adobe Stock

In an opinion piece published in Streetsblog, Sogand Karbalaieali argues that debates over fare evasion on public transit systems largely miss the point.

According to Karbalaieali, the revenue losses caused by people jumping turnstiles or failing to tap their payment cards pale in comparison to “a  more significant and fundamental problem:” the massive budget shortfalls faced by many U.S. transit agencies, including the the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Karbalaieali’s home region.

While news outlets are preoccupied with fare evasion and WMATA's strategies to combat it, a more significant question emerges: How else can WMATA generate revenue?

Karbalaieali suggests “creative solutions for generating revenue through underutilized parking spaces” by converting WMATA-owned lots to other types of development. The article also blames parking requirements for driving up the cost of housing.

Ultimately, Karbalaieali writes, fare evasion is a distraction from much more critical priorities. “While addressing fare evasion is important, the more pressing urgency lies in achieving our climate goals, promoting healthy lifestyles, fostering sustainable transportation, and building resilient infrastructure.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2023 in Streetsblog USA

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