Supervisors Vote 6-5 Against Rejecting MTA Budget

chiu.jpgBOS Prez David Chiu. Photo by Bryan Goebel

BOS Prez David Chiu gave quite a performance at last week’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting, peppering MTA Chief Nat Ford with a series of hard-hitting questions about the agency’s unpopular budget, and lining up the six necessary votes to reject the spending plan. Yesterday, though, at the full Board of Supervisors meeting, Chiu rescinded his motion, agreeing to what amounts to $10.3 million dollars in changes Ford can make at his own discretion, a "compromise" struck at the last minute.

As part of the agreement for new revenue and savings, planned fare hikes for seniors, the disabled and youth will be delayed next year by five months but a $5 increase will still go into effect this July. The cost of the low-income "Lifeline" pass will be reduced to $30 from the current $35. The number of fare inspector hires will be scaled back, saving about $2.5 million, along with "salary savings and other reductions" amounting to $3.5 million. Ford said a total of $8.6 million would be "reinvested" back into the transit system to alleviate the impact of service reductions.

"Our plan is to take this funding and go back and look at those routes. and where we have opportunities to increase service or increase frequency, we will do that to try and lessen the impact of the routes that have either been eliminated and/or modified, or a segment that has been reduced," said Ford. 

Ford added the MTA will conduct a 90-day study on increasing parking meter enforcement in the downtown area from 6-8 p.m., which would raise $1 million, but Sunday parking enforcement, which would have saved an estimated $9 million, was not put back on the table, mainly because of opposition from Supervisors Carmen Chu, Bevan Dufty and the Mayor.

In addition, Ford said there would be a $2.6 million reduction in the amount of money the MTA pays to other departments for work orders and Chiu announced the MTA will sign an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the San Francisco Police Department, which has the highest tally of work orders, sometime "in the next 24 hours." Chiu and other officials have criticized the MTA for paying out work orders, which are draining Muni’s budget to the tune of $63 million.

Supervisor David Campos wasn’t thrilled: "“I don’t think it is significant progress when you’re talking about going from $83 million dollars to now just $63 million dollars going to work orders. We’re talking about 75 percent of the work orders that were originally proposed are still in there, and I do think that’s a problem."

Fare hikes and service reductions will still go into effect as part of the agency’s plan to deal with a $129 million deficit. It includes hikes in Muni fares from $1.50 to $2.00 on
July 1st, adult Fast Passes from $45 to $55 on July 1st and to $60 on
January 1st, and Paratransit fares from $1.65 to $2.00. 

Chiu, a car-free supervisor who relies on Muni, his bicycle and taxis to get around, attempted to convince his colleagues that the MTA budget, with the new changes, would do the city some good.

"In the 21st century I think it is critical for us to build a Transit First city and I was concerned that the budget, as proposed, didn’t do that, and I am more comfortable that we’re moving in that direction. I am more comfortable that we are actually going to hopefully meet our promise of being a green city and being a Transit First city."

Supervisors Campos, Chris Daly, John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi and Eric Mar voted against Chiu’s motion to table his resolution to reject the budget. Campos seemed to take Chiu to task.

“I am disappointed, because, you know, a number of us ran to have a progressive majority of this Board that stood firm on the principal that we really have an obligation to protect the people who are the most disadvantaged and I have to respectfully say that this effort does not do that. In fact, this effort falls way short of doing that.” 

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi added: "I don’t not want to get into this practice that we must continue to reconcile Muni’s budget deficit on the backs of its riders. I believe it’s counter intuitive. There’s just too many unknowns that exist in this particular deal."

  • jim

    I’m disappointed in David Chiu for backing down on this one. It shows that we are still not ready to make drivers pay for the massive costs they impose on the rest of us who would like to get around by public transit or bicycle.

    Throughout the process, there has been no discussion about how Muni runs the slowest bus service of any major city in the USA thereby making it unnecessarily costly to operate. We still continue to talk about work rules, management, etc. while ignoring the operational aspects that are the root cause of the perpetual problems with Muni finances. Too bad.

  • Parking for Neighborhoods Baby! Who needs Don Fisher’s Prop H when we’ve got city stewards like Alioto, Chu, AND Maxwell (for God’s sake, What district does Sophie Maxwell thinks she represents??)?

    We really don’t have the political will to extend parking meter hours to what they should be already to help stave off muni cuts and fare increases? This isn’t about increasing parking rates or bridge tolls, this is just saying hey, no free parking during these hours anymore. That’s something we can all live with.

  • I liked the plan of eliminating 511 and just handing out 10000 free fares every day, for the same cost.

  • marcos

    This is f’ing pathetic and represents a concession to the Muni death spiral on the part of David Chiu given the fact that the Board President has not discharged his duty under Section 8A.109 of the Charter to diligently pursue new sources of revenue for the Muni. To the contrary, in the same way that Peskin institutionalized Brown’s special assistants earlier this decade, Chiu has institutionalized and legitimated Newsom’s illegal cash grab from the MTA through “work orders.”

    In a world where the conservatives proceed with their agenda apace in this allegedly progressive city, when we managed to eke out 1/8 concessions, we still end up falling further behind.

    Why again are fares doubling over six years while riders salaries are falling?

    -marc

  • td

    1. Meetings such as yesterday’s took an unnecessarily long time due to the grandstanding, “echoing” and “thanking” taking place before each supervisor’s point. All very genial, but this adds considerable length to items, delays public comment and increases these meetings’ overall cost, for no additional public benefit.
    We really need to ask for supervisors to get to the point–which supervisor might introduce this resolution?

    2. Does anyone know if “reinvesting” funds into parallel lines runs counter to, at minimum, or invalidates the declaration of fiscal emergency made by the agency a few weeks ago, exempt from environmental review–on the basis that they can’t afford to run existing service? If so, would the agency be hamstrung from implementing the cuts to service in the first place? It would be better to figure this out now before someone sues and costs the City even more money.

  • Chris Tsang

    The best way to keep visitors from the Bay Area to stay away from SF is to make our parking rate any high. We spend about $8 for lunch. about 10% to tax and $3 for parking that for now. It is more then 50% of the spending which have nothing to do with my lunch. That is only when I have my lunch to go, and if I am lucky for not getting a ticket which will cost for another $50.

    Or I can go to Daly City, still have to pay about 10% tax. but not have to think about all the parking issue.

    If MTA is not own by Gov. Will they be out of business long time ago? I guess since MTA will not go out of business. Small business own will.

  • Agree with the above posters that Chiu’s actions here seem suspicious. Sure, Ford agreed to do a parking meter study (he may as well have agreed to nothing at all), a few words were exchanged re: work orders, and the prices for lifeline passes will remain low–but what about all the average San Franciscans? The fare hike may be defensible in some ways, but service reductions?! In a city with a transit-first policy and an ever-growing population in a limited space?! Every single route that is being cut or altered affects the many people who use those buses to get to work, visit friends, run errands, etc. So now less people will ride buses and less people will support MUNI and the city will get less foot traffic as a whole. What part of this scenario smells like transit-first?

    ps. check out my page at http://publicspacesf.blogspot.org –> It is but a struggling seedling at this point, but maybe if a few more people start reading it and commenting (or submitting their own posts), it will grow into a nice urban plant.

  • SfResident

    @Chris Tsang: Are you suggesting that you drive into San Francisco just for an $8 lunch? That sounds kinda dumb.

    @David Chiu: I expected this kind of gutless behavior from Dufty and Maxwell, you should know better. For shame.

  • please pardon the double post. If anyone is interested, that url is actually http://publicspace.blogspot.COM

  • Nick

    If we’re going to to pay $2 for a basic fare, why don’t they “consider the customer” and extend the 90 minute time limit on transfers to 2-3 hours?

    If you just need to get downtown to run a simple errand, you can’t get back in time without having to pay another $2 because you missed your 90 minute window (and often through delays of their own making).

  • Chris Tang, I suggest that if you are indifferent about eating in SF versus Daly City, you could enjoy the same mean at any nationwide Arby’s outlet. Enjoy your “roast” “beef”.

  • DaveO

    Nick – a “transfer” is not the same as a “round trip ticket”. It’s meant to give you enough time to make the connections needed to get to your destination. When you buy on board, the drivers generally give you a transfer for far more than 90 minutes anyway. Hopefully, when Translink comes online, this lost revenue issue will be abated.

    Jeffrey W. Baker – There are no Arby’s in Daly City, yet there is one in San Francisco. And Koi Palace beats Ton Kiang any day. Try getting to know Daly City before you disparage it.

  • “What district does Sophie Maxwell thinks she represents??”

    Potrero Hill… one of the highest car ownership rates – I’d guess the highest on the East side. Unfortunately it’s also extremely transit-poor ans will be losing its’s lifeline, the 53-Southern Heights. Spanks, Soph!

  • That someone might drive into San Francisco for an $8 lunch is clear evidence that gasoline is way, way, way too cheap.

  • Chris Tsang

    @SfResident

    driving to SF for a $8 lunch is sure dumb. but if you are living in SF and trying to meet friends for lunch. it sure will be dumber meeting in SF. And I am living in SF myself. if SFgov does not think about how to help business. where will the sales tax coming from? and what will the next budget going to be? So, are we looking for another rate high? If we look at the parking spaces in SF doing the week. there is already a lot of open space.

    myself ride a scooter, the city is thinking about charging $1 an hour. for a scooter parking, how green will that be??? if it cost me more to stay in the city. I think I will take my car to another city. don’t get me wrong, I support car free city, but fix MTA 1st. Charging more will not fix the problem. making the system work the way it should will. also with this economy and the job market as today. I just don’t know what this people is think to ask for more money.

  • @Chris Tsang – 700,000 trips are taken on MUNI every day, those are now being increased by 50 cents per day. The majority of San Francisco’s street parking is free. Your complaints fall on deaf ears here. district5diary is –> that way.

  • Chris Tsang

    john I guess you are right, this isn’t the 1st we are not happy about anyway. but for a 400% rate hike on motorcycle parking is too much. and the problem is there is not much news about it. so, the board will add it on with no questions at all

  • admit it people just park their motorcycles on the sidewalk anyway 🙂

  • patrick

    @ChrisTang. I don’t know where in SF you can go to meet friends for lunch and pay on $8 including $3 parking and tax, it’s certainly not anywhere where parking costs that much. It’s hard to find ANY place where you can get lunch for $5 after tax… I also can’t imagine what area you are going to that has plenty of parking during in SF, I’ve never been there, it’s certainly not downtown or anywhere within 3 miles of there.

    Fixing MUNI involves charging for parking, higher parking: it will reduce the number of people driving, meaning less traffic, meaning faster buses, it will also making parking easier to find, as there may actually be open spaces.

    I agree charging $1/hour for scooter/motorcycle parking is riduculous unless they are charging at least $8/hour for car parking.

  • If the city wants to help business they need to ban cars and build more streetcar lines that dump 300+ people at their doorstep every 6 minutes. Simple as that.

  • Chris Tsang

    Patick
    you can find a lot of parking on Geary by Richmond, and also I am here in Downtown near Chinatown and North Beach area, most of the time there is a few park meters sitting. and you are right it is not $3 an hour, it is 25 cents for 6 min.

    and remember $5 foot long, the dollar menu at McD.

    fixing Muni is not about charging on someone else, not parking, not fee, we need a new board. do you know they are trying to get some new buses. we are talking about cutting service, why do we need to buy more bus??

    cost of living here in SF is high, SF Gov have to find way to stop any fee or rate hike. And work with the union to have pay cut and work with what they have. I have a 15% pay cut this year. why not the union buses driver?

  • Chris Tsang

    I just don’t see when I don’t have money I can not ask my boss to pay me more, why does MTA can?? I pay my tax already.

  • marcos

    Anyone seen a copy of the MTA/SFPD MOU that we were supposed to have an hour ago?

    -marc

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