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Understanding Fare Evasion in Santiago’s Public Transport System


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Fare evasion is a problem in many public transport systems. Policies to reduce it are generally aimed at improving control and increasing fines. In the bus component of Santiago de Chile’s transit system the average evasion rate is over 20% and the highest values are reported in low income areas. However, limiting the explanation of such a complex phenomenon to only income level can overestimate the benefits of some policy measures and underestimate others. In this paper we consider other potentially significant variables to help explain the high levels of evasion in Santiago, aiming to guide public policy to reduce it. Using different econometric models we find that fare evasion rates on buses increase as: (i) more people board at a bus stop; (ii) if people enter by a rear door; (iii), if buses have high occupancy (and have more doors), and (iv) if more people alight. Regarding socioeconomic variables, results are consistent with prior studies as evasion at bus stops located in higher income zones is significantly lower than in more deprived zones. We identify three main methods to address evasion; (i) improving the operations and design of the system; (ii) increasing inspections and enforcement of penalties (i.e. in “pay zones” average evasion decreases by 63.76%) and (iii) changing the public perception of the system and the social reasons for evading.

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