Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Board of Supervisors Accepts Muni Fare Hikes

After negotiating with the Mayor's office, Supervisor David Chiu abandoned his objection to the SFMTA budget in exchange for a $10 million reduction in costs to riders, according to Stephen T. Jones. (Update: more detail from Paul Hogarth at Beyond Chron)

By a vote of 6-5 the Board voted to accept the SFMTA budget, which includes a 50¢ fare increase and a $10 increase in the cost of a Fast Pass. Chiu changed his position after SFMTA chief Nat Ford agreed to shift some of the budget pain by:
  • Paying $2.8 million less in work orders to other departments (which have their own budgets)
  • Avoiding $8.6 million in previously proposed cuts
  • $6.5 million in salary reductions
  • $1 million in new revenue from increased parking meter enforcement (after a 90 day study, naturally)
  • Delaying Fast Pass increases for youth, disabled and seniors by six months
Chiu also supposedly got some promises that Ford and the MTA would "immediately complete MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) negotiations with the SFPD to finally explain why the MTA is giving them millions of dollars every year."

Said Chiu, according to the SF Bay Guardian,
On Friday, the mayor and I had a conversation about this budget and it was made clear to me that there wouldn't be any movement ... We needed to work this out so we could move forward on the myriad issues before us.
I can't say I completely blame Chiu for his decision. He's cultivated an image as being the adult among the members of the Board and the mayor, and facing a 6-5 vote to reject even if he stood his ground (a loser since it takes seven Supes to reject the MTA budget) He took his $10 million, called it a win and then called it a night.

But it ought to be easy to see why the millions of people who will ride Muni in the next year - and especially the hundreds of thousands who ride it every day - aren't celebrating. We may have moved $10 million dollars in the right direction, but the balance of Muni's budget deficit remains on our backs. We will be getting less from Muni this year and it will cost us more, just not as much more as it looked like a week ago.

Let Chiu's quote be a notice to the Mayor's Office, Mr. Ford and the conservative bloc of Supervisors who pushed for fare increases and rejected parking cost increases. We were willing to take it outside over this matter, and in the next year you can expect a big fight from Muni riders.

We will push for San Francisco's Transit First Charter. We will work to make private motorists pay a fair price to park on public streets and clog our roads. We will campaign for enforcement of parking and traffic laws. And we won't stop fighting until we've undone all of the sabotage you've just inflicted upon our lifeline transportation network.

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