By Onyx Hunter
It was one of the colder mornings in San Francisco and my morning bus to Ocean Campus arrived. I entered the bus and as was the norm nobody said a word, another bus goer who was grinning and looking out the window was wearing steel toed boots, khaki work pants, a black shirt and had a tool belt in his lap all caked in dried gray paint seemed like the perfect man to ask about if he paid the bus fare.
I told him I was a student journalist and asked if he paid the fare, he gave the bus driver a look and to which I followed his line of sight, he said promptly and guiltless “No” “Why’s that” I said, “I forgot on my way in, and I don’t think I have my card.” “You don’t think the fare inspector will catch you?” “I’ll get off if I see him.” he retorted. The cast of people in the bus shuffled and began to crowd slightly, our conversation wasn’t muffled by the people who boarded because they were all silent but we lowered our voices to respect the crowd.
I kept looking at the bus driver with fiendish anxiety, although I had never known a bus driver to throw a rider off but I valued this conversation enough to be wary of his gaze.
“I heard that the fare inspectors handed out something like 180 citations in 2020. They might start giving more out soon” I told him, “Well I’ve never seen one” he said.
I reframed what I first asked him, “Would you pay the fare of $2.50 each time you get on the bus everyday?”
His answer gave me pause “Why?”
“$5 is too high, I didn’t even know what it was till you told me.”
An older man, wearing a bucket hat, neat box framed glasses and a large canvas bag attached to a stroller, who must’ve heard us speaking for half the ride spoke up “There’s a monthly pass for $40” and I said back to him “It’s $80 for us.” He sat up and widened his eyes like he had heard me but didn’t believe me, I told him twice and he chuckled.
He asked me the question I had asked when I first arrived on the bus and this time the words were not filled with the hollow expectations of a student journalist who didn’t have manners. “I’m paying when I arrive.”
I’d like to say the price of the bus fare is of no meditative importance but in all fairness I think there is reason to lower it’s price as to entice more bus goers into paying the fee and of course generating some level of revenue to sustain SFMTA. 80 dollars as it stands for a monthly pass is far too high and any person who buys it is unlikely to get anything close to a return on its usage.