BUSINESS
07/12/2012 02:49 pm ET

John Parrish Fined $125 For Being Short Five Cents On Muni Fare

In the real life version of the famous folk song “M.T.A.,” a San Francisco man ended up being fined more than $100 all because he didn’t have “one more nickel” for his metro fare.

John Parrish is still scratching his head over what he calls “'technocracy run amok” after being fined for insufficient fare during a San Francisco Muni ride, CBS San Francisco reports (h/t The Consumerist). Parrish says he heard the beep indicating he’d paid the fare but inspectors subsequently fined him $100, since the 70 cents on his Clipper Card was short 5 cents. Parrish was later fined another $25.

Muni’s Kristen Holland told CBS San Francisco that she “feel[s] for him in that instance,” but the Muni system is staying vigilant after cheating has become increasingly common thanks to a loophole in the Clipper Card system that lets customers exit stations without paying the full fare, according to ABC 7. San Francisco's Metropolitan Transportation Commission estimates that 10,000 cards have negative balances each month before being abandoned, costing the city about $25,000 in lost fares.

Plans are in the works to fix the glitch, but the city is still looking for other ways to close an estimated $17 million budget gap over the next two fiscal years, including by writing more parking tickets, the SF Public Press reports.

Since the recession, Americans have been increasingly relying on public transit as a cheaper way to get to work. In some cities, a lack of public transportation has exacerbated high unemployment, as poorer residents struggle to find a way to commute to available jobs.

San Francisco may escape blame. Ranked as the city with the second highest public transit usage among workers in 2011, San Francisco recently came in 18th for cities with the best metro access to jobs, according to The Brookings Institute.

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