There's a problem with this claim. Similarly to file-sharers, they don't *actually* cost the transport companies any money.
1. It assumes they would pay if not the scheme. It doesn't assume they would take alternate transport medium.
2. It assumes all the income is from the tickets. It disregards both tax-funded subsidies (from 'freeloaders' tax money) and the punitive charges income (no matter if paid by given freeloader alone or from 'insurance')
3. It assumes cost scales linearly with the number of passengers.
Let me expand on that. The cost of operating a line is mostly a fixed value - amortization of the bus, salary of the driver, costs of operating the infrastructure. Fuel is only a minor part, and even then, then, take bus weight of 10 tons, passenger weight of 100kg, assuming (falsely) the fuel use increases linearly with number of passengers, the difference in cost between driving an empty bus and one with 1 freeloader would be 1%.
In other words, each freeloader in the absolutely worst case scenario adds 1% to the cost of operating a line. In more realistic scenario, this number will be over an order of magnitude smaller.
As effect - yes, the freeloaders do increase the costs for others. Assuming 10 of them per ride - by about 1%.
And one thing more. If they can't break even on the punitive charges, that means the controls are too infrequent. If $15/month suffices to cover $180/capture, that means one control per 14 months. Seriously? Make the average 1/month (still very little with people riding daily) and the 'insurance' will need to rise to $180/month. With $150/monthly pass, the problem will vanish.