MTA To Get Greater Management Role Over SFPD’s Traffic Company

12246301_e88f38ad0d.jpgFlickr photo: Thomas Hawk
According to a "fact sheet" (PDF) released by the Mayor's office Friday, "new operational improvements and efficiencies" have been identified that will amount to $3.5 million in cost savings for the MTA, including giving MTA Executive Director Nat Ford more power over the SFPD's Traffic Company.

The plan, first reported in the Chronicle this morning, was formed in discussions between the Mayor's office, Supervisor Bevan Dufty and the MTA, which is facing a $129 million budget deficit, and considering fare hikes and service cuts: 

The SFMTA will share a greater role in management of the SF Police Department's Traffic Division. The Traffic Division will now be under SFPD Deputy Chief Tony Parra, who already works closely with the SFMTA. This will ensure the Police Department's traffic enforcement functions are coordinated with the SFMTA's goals for safe streets and accident reduction. 

The SPFD has been under a lot of scrutiny lately over of its work orders to the MTA. Dufty held a Budget and Finance commitee hearing recently in which he blasted the SFPD for billing Muni a whopping $19 million, mostly to fund its traffic functions.

The plan also calls for the implementation of "a new, more highly structured management program for its Muni Response Team and Bus Inspection Program (BIP)" on the T-Third line which the document claims will save $1.2 million. Muni has been getting hit with bills for overtime for officers who are supposed to patrol the T-Third line but rarely do.

Ford is no stranger to managing a police force. In Atlanta, he oversaw a staff of 300 police officers at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, and said in a recent interview that he often heard the same concerns voiced in San Francisco that police are rarely seen on buses. "That was the number one complaint," he said.

So far, we haven't heard of any opposition to this plan from supervisors who were very critical of the SFPD and the MTA at that hearing. "It's a good first step," said Dufty's legislative aide, Boe Hayward.

The changes would allow the Department of Parking and Traffic officers to conduct late-night parking enforcement, a function currently held by the SFPD. And it addresses 311 inefficiencies, by "changing the methodology that "311 uses to allocate costs to the SFMTA, which will result in a savings to the SFMTA of about $800,000."  311 bills MTA on average $1.96 for every bus schedule call it receives, and total MTA-related calls account for 63 percent of all 311 call volume.