Transit Riders Put Heat on Mayor Through SFBC, Twitter

Two new online campaigns are helping transit supporters pressure the Mayor to save Muni from the brink of massive service cuts.

In the past two days, a web page created by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has succeeded in getting nearly 350 people (and growing) to write personalized letters to the Mayor and the MTA Board expressing their concern about the proposed Muni service cuts.

Though the SFBC is a bicycle advocacy organization, it hasn't had much trouble convincing members that great transit is an essential part of any healthy city.

"A lot of the letters have really great personal messages and reasons people want to see Muni remain affordable, quality transit for everybody," said the SFBC's Marc Caswell.

In one letter, a teacher implores the Mayor to consider the effects of transit cuts on students.

"I am a public high school teacher in SF," the letter reads. "Already, students come late everyday due to late or over-crowded buses (the ones that skip stops). Already, parents feel they have to drive their students to this busy intersection in order for them not to miss instructional time. ... We cannot afford to cut MUNI service any more! To do so is a betrayal of their future as well as their present."

Another website, MuniFail.com, allows delayed Muni riders to easily tweet their frustration to the Mayor. It's gathered some serious attention in the media, prompting posts on the Chronicle's City Insider blog and Wired.com's Autopia blog. Since the site went live a week ago, the Mayor's Twitter account has received over 100 tweets that include the term "munifail," the site's signature.

"Hopefully the governor is getting a lot of these tweets as well since it's the state, not San Francisco, that has abandoned public transit," Newsom spokesperson Tony Winnicker told Wired on Monday. "The independent Municipal Transportation Agency Board is caught between a rock and a hard place and faces tough choices."

But the Mayor just may be taking the tweets and letters to heart, as evidenced by his heavy involvement in concession negotiations between the Muni operators union and MTA management this week. The hope is that operator concessions could lead to fewer drivers being cut - and a smaller reduction in service.

With SFBC's letter count at nearly 350 and counting as of early Wednesday evening, and #munifail tweets continuing to pour into the Mayor's Twitter feed, riders are sending a clear message to the Mayor on Muni: the tweet stops here.

Check out the SFBC's transit page to write a letter to the Mayor. It'll also be copied to the MTA Board. To tweet your Muni frustration to the Mayor, visit MuniFail.com.