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Two words guaranteed to get a heated discussion underway.  Which is what is happening on The Buzzer, if you care to join in. 

Editor Robert Willis gives a good backgrounder, including the two surveys which indicated that fare evasion is relatively minor and actually dropping.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s all about perception, and how the media frame the issue (which they love).  According to one of the auditors:

“Periodically, the media releases articles indicating that evasion is widespread, although few of these provide specific rates of evasion supporting those assertions. These reports have the ability to affect public perception in this regard and … affect the ability of an individual to rationalize fare evasion. In contrast to the media, our findings show only moderate evasion levels.”

Many of the comments question why over $100 million is being spent to install faregates.  Three reasons: the arrival of Compass cards, the willingness of senior governments to pay most of the capital costs, and that media perception issue.

When I was on TransLink, it was clear there was no way to justify the expenditure of faregates and the rebuilding of stations just to decrease the amount lost to fare evasion.  That would, in my mind, have been a worse scandal than the ongoing stories of ‘government waste’ that the media are still doing, even with arrival of the gates. 

It’s just another indicator of how the relentless discrediting of government results in worse policy decisions when politicians have no choice but to respond to the individual stories that start with an assumption of incompetence – and don’t want facts or trade-offs to get in the way.

That’s my opinion, of course. You may have your own and wish to share them on The Buzzer Blog.