More than 600.000 people fare evade every day at TransMilenio, the metropolitan transport system in Bogotá. In order to reduce the amount of people using the public transport without paying, TransMilenio is deploying new pedagogical actions. The latest was punishing fare dodgers with cleaning the floors of stations. They also had to write slogans for station billboards on why not to fare evade.
The measure received a mix response. On the one hand, many residents welcomed the measure. More than 2,000 people liked TransMilenio’s tweet showing the fare dodgers cleaning the floor of the 20 de Julio terminal.
On the other hand, some citizens justify fare evasion because they believe the bus service is not worth the price. Bogotá has no metro system. Consequently, buses make up the city’s main public transport network. These suffer from chronic bus overcrowding and high levels of pick pocketing and groping.
Failed fine recollection
Under the police national code, fare dodgers face fines of 197 pesos for using public transport without a valid ticket. This is 89 times the value of a ticket.
Nevertheless, many fare dodgers do not pay the sanctions. Between August 2017 and 2018, officers issued 41,671 fines, but only 328 were paid and 12,470 were exchanged for pedagogical curses. Consequently, almost 70% of the fines are pending.
Consequences of fare evasion in TransMilenio
Fare evasion amounts to 447.000 million pesos lost annually. Consequently, TransMilenio has a deficit of 3 billion pesos since 2011. According to councilor María Victoria Vargas, this money would allow the government “to build two third level hospitals, 30 district schools, shelter for 9,000 families or offer food to 1 million students during a year approximately”.
In addition, fare evasion is a serious safety issue in TransMilenio. This 2018, up to 13 people have died trying to sneak in the system and many have been injured.