How Muni Stole $75 From Me

Seething With: Rage.

This is a copy (with sensitive information removed) of the citation I received today from taking the Muni after the Alice 97.3 "Now and Zen Festival". Let me regale you with a tiny tale of how this came to be, or at least the lack of empathy and understanding as well as taking advantage of a known situation.

The Alice 97.3 "Now and Zen Festival" is a free festival put on in Golden Gate park. It's the first year that it's been free, so you can imagine the number of people who went to go listen to the concert due to the great lineup as well as, well, the economic climate for "I don't have money to do anything fun". Needless to say, it was packed.

The four of us decided to take Muni to the concert from the Bart. We also decided to take the Muni back to the Bart when the concert was over. The problem here being that everyone else also decided to take the Muni back to the Bart after the concert (we left after Colbie Callait played). This caused the entire front of the Muni to be packed like sardines. You had just enough room to slide a small brochure between people.

When the "N Judah" Muni arrived, the woman told the folks trying to get on to take residence somewhere in the back or middle of the train, where there was room. Makes sense. I also had my $2.00 out (the fare for an adult) to pay as soon as I got in. The problem was that I had no way to pay anybody. If they release the security camera footage of that Muni train, you will see a Chinese guy in the middle train with $2.00 in his hand, looking around for a place to put it. That's me.

People started getting off at Civic Center, the very Bart stop we needed to get off at! How wonderful! Most of the folks exit from the front of the train with the few of us in the middle also making our way out. We proceed with the mob of people up the escalator to see three Muni officers (I'm calling them officers) waiting with their tiny ticket notebooks.

I have my $2.00 out at this time. Thank God I can finally pay someone. I was feeling really guilty at that point.

Turns out that these guys weren't here to take your money, but here to issue citations. I would put my $2.00 on a bet that states that these officers knew there was a big concert going on today and that a butt-load of people would be taking Muni today, many missing the opportunity to pay because it was just too full to get to the front. They must be meeting their quotas or something.

So, a bunch of folks from the front car leave showing their tickets, some are slipping by the officers who aren't looking and others have those Transbay cards. The four of us, and another guy from what I remember, are stuck in line to get a citation. We each get fined $75 and I can guarantee that we'll be contesting this. Of course, I would also like to place a bet on the outcome: San Francisco will deny my the contesting of the ticket and I will be forced to pay the $75. They give you 3" x .75" box to write your "reason for contesting the ticket". I think that's just enough room to draw a sad face.

To end, I would also like to point out on extremely disconcerting aspect of the whole citation...

What the hell is this? The officer has clearly crossed off the "$50 (first offense)" fee and replaced it with $75, in writing. If these guys are out here, enforcing the law and taking in all of this money, you'd think they could update these citation tickets with the correct fee.

In the end, I will admit that I was guilty of not possessing a proof of payment. However, I was also put in a situation where I could not obtain this proof of payment. I had considered getting out of the train and running to the front, but by then it was too late. The conductor said we were going to be in "automatic mode", which I assume means the Muni runs by itself when going through the tunnels. If she had had the decency to tell us that, she could have told the train, "Also make sure you have a proof of payment, otherwise you'll get a citation."

If you feel the need to spread this story, please Digg it and e-mail it appropriately. I think a huge number of people got citations this Sunday, and I feel that Muni would be getting this "citation money" dishonestly. If you're one of those who got pooped on this weekend, feel free to "comment".