Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SFTRU Ramping Up

Dave Snyder of the newly formed San Francisco Transit Riders Union sent out the group's first email to its members. If you haven't already joined their ranks yet, you can do so by filling out the form at muniriders.org (they also have a Facebook page). SFTRU is planning its first member meeting for this Thursday, March 25th.

Read the email message after the jump.

Thanks for signing up for the San Francisco Transit Riders Union. I am writing to give you a brief update on the status of this brand new organization. Expect more updates in the next few weeks, as we get more momentum!

I’ll divide this report in two to reflect the way I’ve been dividing my work as coordinator: advocating on behalf of and organizing Muni riders and building the organization to provide a strong and sustainable voice for Muni riders.

Advocacy update.

Our main focus for the next several weeks will be the FY 2010-2012 MTA budget, and our main goal will be restoring the 10% service cuts that are planned to go into effect May 1.

There are three important hearings coming up where we hope to place unprecedented pressure on the MTA Board. Mark your calendars now for 2:00 p.m. meetings at City Hall on the following dates:

Tuesday, March 30 (public hearing on fare, fine, and fee increases)
Tuesday, April 6 (FY 2010-2012 budget hearing)
Tuesday, April 20 (FY 2010-2012 budget adoption)

These cuts -- literally a decimation of service -- are going to be an ugly surprise to most Muni riders. When I ride the bus and ask fellow riders, “do you know they plan to cut service by 10% on May 1?”, people shake their heads in disbelief and look around at the crowded bus and ask, “they want it to get more crowded?! What are they thinking?!”

Every bus will be even more crowded and even slower. Owl buses will run every hour instead of half-hour. Almost every route will cease service 1 to 2 hours earlier.

We can use the anger that people will feel once these cuts go into effect as an organizing tool, but unfortunately the go into effect after MTA Board approves its budget, which it must do in April. Then the budget goes to the Board of Supervisors for its approval. We will do our best to get the MTA Board to devise a budget that restores all the lost service, but if we need to, we can organize riders affected by the May 1 service cuts to pressure the Board of Supervisors to reject the budget and suggest ways to restore service.

We’ll discuss this campaign and others that we can work on at the SF Transit Riders Union first member meeting, planned for this Thursday. I hope you can come.

SF Transit Riders Union Volunteer Meeting
Everyone is invited.
Thursday, March 25, 6:00 p.m.
Place TBD (close to Market Street)

I’ll send out a reminder with the location as soon as I know it.

Organization-building update.

In this first month of our existence, we’ve chosen a name -- the San Francisco Transit Riders Union -- and a mission: to promote excellent and growing public transit in San Francisco. We’ll focus mostly on Muni but also seek to improve BART and other transit agencies’ services as well.

We’ve developed some principles. We’ll reach out to riders in multiple languages, learn from riders and authentically represent riders’ interests. We will promote best practices in public transit, and educate riders as we learn from them. We will keep at least three campaigns going at once, to engage as many people as possible in the work of improving transit. And we will maintain a cooperative relationship with the workers who make Muni run every day.

I’ll coordinate the day-to-day work of the Riders Union, while policy decisions will be made by the steering committee which is still coming together. While the membership of that committee is not final, I can say that it has a balance of policy organizations and community-based organizations with constituencies who ride transit. Once the committee is finalized I can share with you its membership. We are a fiscally sponsored project of Livable City, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.

We will accept membership dues soon, but we’ll never turn someone away for lack of funds. Right now, we’re seeking startup funding, major donations of $500 or more. If you can help with that or know someone who can, please contact me.

We need an office. We need a web presence. We need a team of volunteers to help us plan our campaigns and outreach, and implement those plans! These issues will be on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. I hope you can come.

I’ve heard so many ideas for actions and received so many offers of help! I’m excited to be a part of this movement, where people realize we can’t take our public transit for granted, that we must fight for it. It’s exciting.

In solidarity for excellent transit,

Dave Snyder

No comments: