MTA Board Will Be Asked to Declare Fiscal Emergency

3342838395_65de166bb7.jpgFare hikes and service reductions are likely on the way for Muni. Flickr photo: Tom Prete

The Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors will be asked to declare a fiscal emergency at its meeting next Tuesday, a move that will allow Muni to skip environmental reviews and implement service cuts and fare hikes this year to deal with a projected $129 million budget deficit.

"A declaration of fiscal emergency is a way of satisfying CEQA for transit service reductions and fare increases," said MTA spokesperson Judson True. "A longer CEQA analysis takes time, and time means money that we don’t have." 

The last time Muni declared a fiscal emergency was in 2005. Facing a $57 million deficit, the MTA Board voted then to increase fares by 25 cents to the current $1.50. Other Bay Area transit agencies, including AC Transit and the Valley Transportation Authority, have taken similar actions over the years. 

A proposal is currently on the table to raise Muni fares by as much as 50 cents to $2.00, but True said the earliest service reductions and additional fare hikes would be implemented is September 1st, although it’s possible parking garage rates could go up sooner. Fast passes are already scheduled to go up from $45 to $55 in July, although there is a proposal to raise it another $5 to $60. 

At next week’s meeting, CFO Sonali Bose plans to present a refined list of options to close the gap and "to outine comprehensive options for service reductions and modifications as part of the budget balancing menu," said True.

The earliest the MTA Board could vote on the fiscal emergency would be April 21st. A public hearing is set for that date and for April 7th. The Board has to respond to public comments before it can take a vote. 

Some MTA Board members, including Chair Tom Nolan, have indicated they are likely to vote in favor of the fare increases. The Board of Supervisors does have the power to reject the MTA’s budget with a minimum of seven votes.

Next steps, according to the MTA:

  • Public hearings to consider any
    changes to fares, fines or fees and service modifications –April 7
    and 21, 2009 
  • Board to adopt revised FY 2009-2010 Operating Budget –April 30, 2009 
  • Board to adopt Automatic Indexing Implementation Plan –April 7, 2009 
  • Submit revised FY 2009-2010 Operating Budget to the Mayor’s Office – May 1, 2009 
  • Board of Supervisors to accept or reject FY 2009-2010 Operating Budget if fares changes and/or
    route abandonments included –June through August 2009 
  • Changes to any fares, fines or fees and service modifications – September 1, 2009 

  • Pat

    This really does not sound like an April Fool’s joke but it better be!

  • A huge contributor to this funding crisis is the state’s repeated decision to siphon away dedicated public transit operating funds to other purposes. Since 2000, our governor and legislators have redirected over $4 billion in funds that by law should have gone to public transit operators across the state. And, this year, the State budget included legislation that zeroed out funding for public transit for the next five years!

    SF Muni lost tens of millions in operations funds through this move. When transit agencies face cuts like that, their options are service cuts, fare hikes, and maintenance deferrals. We all need to make sure to connect the dots and share the impacts of Muni’s cuts and fare increases with our legislators!

    Read more at http://www.transformca.org/campaign/state-budget

  • What a relief it will be to occasional riders like me when they finally raise the fare to $2. I usually wind up shoving $2 into the damn thing anyway, since I never have the right change, unless I can pair up with someone else and go for $3 per 2 people.

  • Translink Jeffrey, translink…

  • A fiscal emergency ever four years is a sign that your funding structure is seriously effed up! Every time an emergency like this happens the riders bear the burden.

    And Translink is awesome, BTW

  • Could you give us a time and place for these April 7th and 21st hearings?

  • Ann, the meetings will take place at the regular SFMTA Board meetings April 7th and 21st at 2pm in City Hall Room 400.

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