Transit Riders Union Plots Solution to Muni Cuts, Forms Advisory Board

Muni passengers stuggle to board an already-packed shuttle during Thursday's subway shutdown.Muni riders board an already-packed shuttle during Thursday’s Metro shutdown. Photo: Matt Baume

Muni may be having trouble acquiring cash these days, but there’s one thing that’s never in short supply for the transit agency: advice.

Among the many organizations pressuring Muni to resist service cuts, the newly formed San Francisco Transit Riders Union (SFTRU) is drawing a good deal of interest from local transit advocates and organizers. Led by former San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) honcho Dave Snyder, SFTRU met yesterday at the SFBC’s new headquarters to discuss the organization’s next steps.

With a steering committee now in place, including the Chinatown Community Development Center, Senior Action Network, Transport Workers United Local 250-A, San Francisco Planning & Urban Research (SPUR), Rescue Muni, Walk SF, and the SFBC, the SFTRU is turning its focus to building consensus around solutions for improving the transit operator.

At the top of the priority list are the ten-percent service cuts recently approved by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board. Just as SPUR offered a long list of options the SFMTA could be taking in lieu of cuts, the SFTRU has a fiscal analysis of money-making opportunities that Muni is currently passing up. Those include reducing work orders, closing a tax loophole for valet parking, and instituting Sunday parking meter enforcement.

Of course, each of those recommended measures comes with its own set of challenges. Mayor Gavin Newsom has stood firm on work orders, taking the position that it’s reasonable and appropriate for other city departments to send Muni bills for millions of dollars. Newsom has also resisted measures that would reduce public subsidies for parking spaces.

But progressive members of the Board of Supervisors may hold the key to limiting further cuts. The Budget Committee meets May 5 to consider Muni’s budget, including service cuts to begin May 8. All supervisors can expect to feel mounting pressure to reject the budget, but SFTRU plans to focus particularly on those perceived as swing voters: Dufty, Elsbernd, and Maxwell.

That pressure could come in a variety of forms, including meetings at City Hall, outreach to voters and public testimony. In advance of the May 5th Budget Committee meeting, SFTRU plans to hold a non-publicized, members-only planning session to help members plan their one to two minute testimonies before the Board.

While SFMTA chief Nat Ford has attempted to highlight the silver lining of the cuts, the SFTRU doesn’t accept his assumption that cuts are unavoidable.

Ford, at the April 20 SFMTA Board meeting, said, "This two-year budget has no fare increase in the coming fiscal year" and "assumes a restoring of half of the 10 percent scheduled changes." At the same meeting, he told those present, "We did everything we could to avoid this day, but this day is here."

Snyder thinks this explanation isn’t sound.

"It’s one thing to respond to an economic crisis with some emergency cuts in public transit," wrote SFTRU organizer Dave Snyder in an email to transit supporters last week, "but it’s quite another for the head of our transportation agency — responsible for not just transit but really our transportation system — to plan for a long-term reduction in transit service."

As last night’s SFTRU meeting wore on, outside a fleet of crush-loaded shuttle buses carried riders past subway lines that had ground to a halt after a death at the Castro Street station. And just a few minutes after the meeting ended, two L-Taravals crashed in the Outer Sunset. It was a particularly bad night for Muni, but with any luck, SFTRU’s plans could provide a glimmer of hope for improving the transit agency’s perpetual struggles.

  • Glad to see SFTRU getting some policy recommendations out there! But I don’t like the title: “Plan to Restore Service.” Beyond restoring service, the proposals yield a surplus that could be used to start implementing the TEP, which I think should be highlighted.

    Restoring service to 2007 levels is just bringing a broken system back to a performance level that was already completely unacceptable, and is not a worthy goal. The current crisis should be seen as a unique opportunity to push the many needed revenue increases, cost controls and systemic changes that are needed to make Muni capable of delivering a transit-first city, and we should not settle for just bringing back the former status quo.

    Comparing SFTRU’s recommendations to SPUR’s, Work Orders, 311, Garages/Metering, and stop consolidation/speed boosts look pretty similar. But the TRU seems to be leaving out pretty much every SPUR recommendation that would adversely affect a government employee: enforcing parking at City Hall/HOJ/CCSF/SFMTA facilities, charging more for government parking permits, hiring part-time drivers, and changing overtime rules.

    They also leave out the disabled placard fee increase, which I can understand as it was one of the most controversial items (although abuse of placards for free metered parking does need to be addressed somehow). But I’m a little disappointed by the omission of the rest: those proposals left out were estimated by SPUR to bring in about $14M this year, which is desperately needed if Muni is going to move forward and not just return to 2007 levels.

  • Nick

    Take a look at what is getting cut in your neighborhood:

    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/malerts/MunischedulechangesMay82010.htm

    I’m a little concerned with how drastic some of the weekend service cuts are going to be. San Francisco is not a 9-5 town. How exactly do they expect people to get home in a “Transit First” city when the last local bus line runs at 8PM or 9PM at night?

  • JohnB

    Nick

    While SF might not be a 9 to 5 town, it is very far from being a 24 hour town like NYC either.

    Most restaurants close by 9pm and many downtown bars close by then too. If you’re out late at night, chances are you’re going to be taking a cab home, or maybe one of the special night buses that as far as I know will still run.

    If service has to be cut, then it has to be cut at the margins i.e. the less popular routes and/or the less popular times. Getting people to and from work trumps saving a drunken clubgoer some money on his mid-night trip home.

    “Transit First” doesn’t mean “Transit Only”.

  • Fran Taylor

    Most of the users of late-night transit are workers in the hotel, healthcare, janitorial, and security industries who are not paid enough to take cabs home every night and may even be racing to a second job when their graveyard office cleaning shift is over and the back-of-the-house food prep job begins. Hardly the privileged drunken clubgoer demographic.

  • Ryan

    John B: That may be so but if it’s between saving a drunken clubgoer some money or encouraging them to drive drunk, I’d rather they took a bus/train.

  • Nick

    So the City decided to not install late night parking meters. They argued it would be too much of a hardship to charge people for parking at 9PM at night. But somehow it is not too much of a hardship to end local bus routes by the same time (and on weekdays even!):

    Last calls around 9PM or earlier:
    The 2, 10, 17, 35, 36, 37, 39, 52, 56, 66, 67.

    This is the scandal that is waiting to happen.

  • JohnB

    Nick

    Parking meters at 9pm or later would hit residents of that area who have to leave their home to feed the meter. Not everyone stays up until midnight, especially those who start work at 6am.

    Also parking at a meter is generally restricted to 2 hours so you’d be forcing people to move their vehicles late at night.

    The whole point of parking meters is to charge folks who are parking in high-density areas for work, not to penalize folks for parking outside their own home.

    And if we are going to cut the less used buses that run after 9, then the least we can do is give folks free parking who will now have no other choice.

    Nobody likes cuts but I’m yet to hear from anyone about which services should be cut over the late night services. It’s the worst cut except for all the others.

  • Nick

    Nice way to frame the discussion. Hmmm….which service should we cut?

    How about: how do we increase revenue or control costs?

  • John B, welcome back. I think you are a bit confused when it comes to where these parking meter rate changes would actually be taking place. There are no meters in residential areas so that pretty much makes your argument moot. I live in North Beach, and yes there are meters, but a vast majority of parking is no metered. Even if metering hours were extended, you still can’t park overnight in those spots because of street cleaning. Your argument just holds no water whatsoever.

    Also, putting those people who use a late night bus into a car means that not only are they not taking the bus late at night, they aren’t taking the bus during the day. Which then compounds the horrible parking and traffic problems already experienced in most of the city.

    Free, or even extremely subsided, private parking is not a business the city can afford to be in anymore. Parking meters need to see raised rates and extended hours. Residential parking pass fees need to include more then just the cost to issues them. This city is going to implode if we continue to force (and reinforce) everyone into a private auto – there just isn’t enough space.

  • JohnB

    Mikesonn

    It’s only partly true that “there are no meters in residential areas”. Certainly the bulk of them are downtown and on the main commercial arteries, as of course they should be.

    But people live in those areas too. Example: A friend of mine lives on Valencia Street, a mixed-use street that is not downtown and which is metered. Luckily meter hours are only while he is at work, so he doesn’t have to deal with them on weekdays.

    But extend the hours until 8pm or later and you are creating a significant hardship. Is he supposed to run from his home in his pyjama’s to feed the meter? Pay a neighborhood kid to do it for him? Move his car at 11pm?

    But yes, I could possibly support meter extensions where there is CLEARLY no demonstrable residential population. The problem is that those are the areas where nobody would want to park in the evening anyway.

    Thus far, meters have been used to ration demand in commercial high-density neighborhoods, and only during working hours. When you start going after people in their homes, it ceases to be a prudent traffic control measure and starts to look like something between petty class envy and penal social engineering.

    So I’d argue the top priority is cost cutting, to echo Nick’s suggestion. Then service cuts to the least used non-critical services, and finally and rarely, tax and fee increases.

  • Shawn Allen

    “The whole point of parking meters is to charge folks who are parking in high-density areas for work, not to penalize folks for parking outside their own home.”

    Wrong. The point of parking meters is to charge for the use of shared public space that primarily serves commercial uses—i.e., people parking in front of a store to buy something. The fact that residents of those streets are parking their cars overnight on metered spaces is a failing of the city to provide a) practical alternatives to the private automobile and/or b) “enough” parking for residents. Without the former you need the latter; but If you provide enough alternatives, you don’t need parking.

    I’m not saying that your friend who lives on Valencia doesn’t deserve to live there because he owns a car. I’m just saying that his/her need for a car is a failing of the city’s transportation system. (It does strike me as pretty ludicrous, though, that anyone living so close to one of two BART stations and on one of the city’s nicest cycling arteries would “need” a car.)

  • I think it will be many many years before the city provides sufficient practical alternatives to car ownership — or at least, car usage.

    For example, I recently needed to visit Glen Canyon Park and McLaren Park for a job; on Muni it takes at least an hour to get from my house to that end of town, while in a car it takes 20 minutes. And I don’t even want to think about taking my bike all the way over there with the hills. I also needed to visit the Presidio to inspect an unmarked creek, which involved a lot of driving back and forth on hills to find it. I’m all for exercise, but if I tried to pedal to the top of McLaren or multiple times along the Ecology Trail my legs would probably stop working.

    For example again: my husband may be starting a job in Emeryville soon. If we lived on Valencia, it would be an hour to get there by transit — provided BART or Muni aren’t experiencing an outage — or 20 minutes by car. Even in traffic, his drive to work would almost always be faster than transit.

    We’re considering moving to the East Bay.

  • JohnB

    Matt,

    You’re correct of course. Living near BART only does you any good if by coincidence you need to travel in a straight line in one of just 2 directions, during the day, with no heavy items or non-ambulant family members.

    BART was never designed to provide fast, comfortable transit around SF but rather to get East Bay suburban commuters into downtown Oakland and SF. In fact, BART was envisaged back in an era when nobody questionned the primacy of car transport or suburban sprawl.

    Planned BART extensions have my support but they will only extend the system in the South and East Bay area. There are no plans, as far as I know, to put BART underground along Geary, Lombard and other SF high-density arterial routes.

    Plus public transit of any form doesn’t help you pick up grandma and take her shopping, while dropping off kids, picking up laundry or visiting any of the big box stores that SF so considerately bans within its city limits.

    And even BART is useless for Matt’s new job in Emeryville, although Emeryville’s free bus service is a shining testament to what public transit could be if only you can first build a vibrant local economy.

    So while Shawn’s dream of a carless city is noble and worthy, it is totally impracticable unless you’re a fit, young, single adult who works downtown and shops and entertains there or within a walk of his home.

    I agree with Shawn that meters should target commercial users only. But the fact is that zoning changes and live/work conversions now put a lot of residential folks in formerly commercial areas. So there is an important principle at stake here – that meters don’t target residential communities outside the working day.

    In any event, feeding coins into meters is a barbaric practice. A paid monthly or annual parking permit makes far more sense for residential areas, which is of course exactly why the city does that, where and when it proves necessary.

  • John B, so your friend on Valencia can’t go one block over to park? He/she needs to park in front of a business and in turn take away a parking spot from someone coming into the neighborhood to shop?

    What about the people on Upper Grant street in North Beach, should we also get rid of street cleaning so that have convenient free parking right outside their door?

    No one is advocating coming after people in their PJs to shake them down for quarters.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    Valencia might be oh-so-groovy but walk just half a black away and it’s somewhere between grim and dangerous at night. It’s not unreasonable that he should be able to park on the street that he lives, especially since it’s not a dense residential mix.

    Which is why residential permits make more sense there than meters in any area where people actually live.

    Besides, some here want meters on all the adjoining streets anyway in their ceaseless, endless. zealous quest for extracting money from those perceived as being able to afford it.

    Meter hours should correspond to the times that reasonable people are at work i.e. 8am to 6pm, max, if you are talking about streets where people live. Elsewhere the market will determine the issue.

  • JohnB, you feel so attacked – maybe you need a oh-so-groovy hug. No one is on a ceaseless, endless, zealous quest to extract money from the “silent majority”. You can step off the ledge.

    Valencia is a commercial street with people who live there. Businesses are open pass 6pm (when metering ends) so in a way your friend is taking a parking spot from the businesses on Valencia and hurting their ability to attract customers. Why does your friend hate small businesses?

    Grim and dangerous? I don’t live there so I can’t exactly dispute this hyperbole, but maybe if your friend stopped strangling the local businesses maybe there would be more people on the streets to provide some sort of protection by numbers.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    Your crocodile tears for the small businesses of Valencia St are adorably cute but misguided. The fancy restaurants there often sport valet parking and the cops turn a blind eye to parking in the central turning lane. Trust me, if those groovy restaurants were struggling there wouldn’t be so damn many of them.

    My message here is so simple and logical that I struggle to understand any dissenting voice. Expressed most simply it is:

    In commercial districts, use meters, during commercial hours.

    In residential districts, use permits, and no meters during residential hours.

    Unreasonable?

  • JohnB, that is how it is. I don’t see an argument either.

    And I’m was being a bit over the top, but businesses are still open pass 6pm and on Sundays.

  • John B,
    You’re using the same logic that the MTA is. In their proposal for extending meter hours, they were only proposing the extension to commercial areas during commercial hours. They’re not talking about adding new meters, only extending hours at ones already in the ground and in conjunction with commercial hours of operation. Thing is, very few shops in commercial districts close at 6 anymore. Valencia is a great example. Even the bookstores and taxidermy shops stay open until 7 or later, many until 9. Restaurants and bars are open until at least 10-midnight, some until 2 pm. It would be to their advantage to have turnover during business hours.

    Look at the study:
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/10/13/mta-releases-parking-meter-study-that-proposes-extending-hours/

    The crocodile tears are the ones the political class shed for the people they say this will hurt.

    In the town where I went to high school, Park City, Utah, they run meters until 10 pm and on Sundays on the main commercial strip. They have done it that way for as long as I can remember (My family moved there in 1990). It’s not burdensome at all. In fact, they have these wonderful devices you can pre-charge with various dollar amounts and hang from the dashboard as payment while you’re parked. They also have pay-and-display machines like those in Oakland and Berkeley. Pretty simple stuff, even for Utahns!

    It would be comical to me how resistant to progress “progressive” San Francisco is if it weren’t so tragic that this kind of resistance has very significant and dismal impacts on transit, like the 10 percent cuts coming in a couple weeks.

  • JohnB

    Matthew

    That is all good if there was a neat dichotomy between commercial and residential neighborhoods, but there is not. Valencia St is a great example – businesses after 6 for sure, but it is also home to many who reasonably expect to be able to park in the evening after a hard days work.

    So the question is this – how do we allow local residents to park after 6 while charging those who dont live there?

    And the answer is obvious – permits for the locals and meters for the non-locals.

    As for Park City UT, which I know and love, it’s a tourist town and of course you ding all those visitors. Try implementing 10pm meters in residential parts of SF and watch your favorite politicians get crucified.

    A little moderation and humanity on this, maybe?

  • When you start using words like humanity when talking about parking, I think the argument gets dicey. It’s no longer about logic but about emotion.

    Actually, far from dinging tourists, I think Park City is a great example for what could be happening here in SF, but won’t because, as you said, pols worry about getting strung up on crosses. As locals in PC, I can tell you there are times when it is very nice to have a reasonable assurance of a parking space because of the pricing mechanisms there.

    On Main Street in Park City, a commercial strip that also has some residential above the commercial, every space is metered and it runs until 10 pm. If you want the convenience of parking there, which I’ve done many times if I need to be in and out to an establishment, you pay the highest rate. If you park on Swede Alley, which is right behind the main commercial strip, you pay half as much as you do on Main Street. Makes sense for those who want to be close to their destination but don’t want to pay the Main Street rate. Finally, the third tier is the long-term parking, which is free in garages (several located on Swede Alley with only a slightly longer walk). This encourages long-term parking to happen where turnover is not a goal.

    In SF, parking right on Valencia Street is a privilege and, IMO, should be charged a rate that ensures turnover for as long as there are commercial hours.

  • There has to be emotion taking over the argument because it seems logic has long since left the building. Parking is not a right. It wasn’t decreed by god and put into the Constitution by the founding fathers. But people are so attached to their personal autos that anything that even slightly is perceived as making driving less accessible is seen as a moral attack. And I say perceived because metering parking spaces will actually make parking easier for those who do drive because it’ll create turn over. But then the city would be lacking in humanity.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    Eloquently spoken by someone who (I’ll guess here) doesn’t have a car, a young family to transport, grandparents to ferry around, a business to run, a garden to acquire bulk fertilizer for, a shopping budget that demands out-of-town big-box store shopping, huge amounts of dry cleaning to deliver and collect, a total lack of need to deal with contingencies, spontaneity, and who can condense their life into trips downtown and neighborhood soirees.

    Parking isn’t in the Constitution but neither are buses, trains, boats or planes.

    Public transit needs to be adequately funded but not on the backs of making life miserable for the hundreds of thousands of SF residents who need a car for their family and their livliehood.

    Let’s start with fixing inefficient work practices and cutting bloated public sector employee pay and benefits. Then let’s cut the thinly-used services.

    If there is still a deficit after that, come and talk to me about tax and fee hikes, and making life difficult for ordinary working families. But not before. The Mayor and MTA are nixing this because they listen to and are accoutable to real people, and not to a naroow band of single-issue activists.

  • david vartanoff

    a few words about Valencia and surrounding streets. I was patronizing La Cumbre before BART started running so I have some perspective on that part of the street. The “fancy” restaurant I am most often at these days is Truly Mediterranean. JohnB, your friend ought to ditch owning a car and sign up with zip/share/whatever for his car needs. The point of living in a walkable happening ‘hood is to be walking about not driving everywhere. For some years I have suggested that new residential developments should be encouraged to have NO off street parking in return for the landlord giving each tenant a Fast Pass each month. IIRC someone recently calculated the fully allocated $ value of a parking space based on SF land prices at multiple thousands per year.

  • JohnB

    David

    Your assumption seems to be that if I live on Valencia, I need never go anywhere else, simply because there are a few groovy restaurants there.

    Most people use cars to get to work, take their kids to school and do bulk shopping, none of which you can easily or even safely do on a number 14 bus.

    And the reason you’ve spent several futile years proposing a FastPass in place of safe, secured parking is because almost nobody agrees with that, not least SF’s planning department.

    Finally, if my off-street parking spot is worth several thousand dollars and I am willing to pay an extra several thousand dollars for it, then that really shouldn’t be anyone’s problem.

    I’m happy for you to walk everywhere as long as you dont try and tell everyone else that they have to do the same.

  • Oh wow JohnB, I really did miss you for those couple weeks. My lack of a life means that I spend more money at local stores and restaurants as a percent of my expenditures then you. I can easily get a zip car for those times I need to get a store’s worth of dry cleaning or prop up the WalMart on the outskirts of suburbia.

    JohnB, making people pay for parking at meters in commercial districts isn’t going to make people’s lives miserable. It is making them pay the true cost in a dense urban environment for using limited public space. It is creating turn over for the businesses that need people to come and park and not for people who use the spot in front of the business to make the walk home easier.

    You conveniently left the blog for a while when there were several exposes on families who bike all over the city. Who bike their kids to school, then bike to work, and bike to the store. It is happening all over this city and country. We are not single-issue activists because the future of our city (and I’d argue the planet) relies on every day people taking a stand against the auto-centric, far-flung, resource dependent lifestyle that is the status quo.

    And we will continue to live car-free after we have kids (which I guess, by polluting the world with miniature versions of myself, will give me more of a right to an opinion).

    Your “silent majority” is shrinking John, and I’d go as far as saying it stopped be a majority a long time ago.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    I will know when you are the majority when the Mayor and the MTA pay more attention to a few cyclcists than to the hundreds of thousands of people in SF who need a car every day. A ZipCar won’t work when you need a car (or in my case, two) for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Now I think it’s noble and dandy that a mother somewhere in SF can balance three kids on her crossbar while carrying 100 pounds of dry cleaning in one hand and a bag of fertilizer in the other. But for most of us, we can’t.

    As for saving the planet, I use well under the national average of energy since my home rarely needs either heating nor AC, and I drive older cars which I maintain myself.

    Finally, the true cost of paying for road use ultimately lies with the electorate. The people get to decide what type of city they want. So I fully support going to the electorate with your proposals to run meters in residential areas until mid-night, raise sales tax by 1/2%ord raise the VLF.

    I trust the electorate. But do you?

  • Hey John B and Mike.
    I don’t want to spend my day editing out personal attacks. If this gets any more personal, I’ll ask you both to stop commenting here.

  • I’m done anyway.

  • “As for saving the planet, I use well under the national average of energy since my home rarely needs either heating nor AC, and I drive older cars which I maintain myself.”

    How often do you fly? Where do you fly to? Places that require heat? To do things that require ski lifts, have amusement park rides, ballgames played under many kilowatts of lighting?

    100 pounds of dry cleaning?
    Fertilizer? Growing your own veggies? Or eating ones flown in from South
    America out of season?

    Your work place? Does it have a server farm? What floor is your office on?

    The national average is pretty high compared to the rest of the world, but the mean annual salary in the US is such that the majority of the country can’t afford some luxuries which are pretty energy hungry. AC might be very useful in Mississippi, but that doesn’t mean they can all afford it. I ride a bike/take caltrain to work, my wife and I share a car, I compost, recycle, try not to eat too much meat, and I’m not vain enough to believe I am under than national average for overall energy consumption.

  • david vartanoff

    ultimately I do trust the electorate, although as history has shown it is often conned by the pols. Now as to raising kids w/out a minivan, it is clearly possible, even pleasant. City kids should be walking to elementary school, not chauffered. (you have noticed the obesity epidemic, yes?) By middle school, they should be on transit. As to going “anywhere else” I take kids w/ me to for instance the Hardly Strictly on transit. They seem to survive. (and I live in North Oakland) Yes, for freight, motorised vehicles are useful. I will be using same to get supplies for the tomato patch, and I car pool to Costco for the giant boxes of TP, etc. For day to day food, walking to/from local stores or stopping somewhere on the commute home mean fresher food than the van load once a week. Now, let us be clear, you are free in my view to be auto centric. I just want to make you economically sad to be so because I believe these smog generators and the sprawlburb culture they support is hugely damaging to the general economy and society.
    Enough, I need to do some more work on the solar PV project.

  • the greasybear

    We paved the roads to move people and goods through the city. There is no right to store one’s private property overnight in the road, nor should there be.

    Motorists enjoy a privilege when and where we allow them to park their private cars right in the roads, a privilege that should only be granted where there is truly excess space on the roadway.

    Because private motoring in the city is most wasteful of critical public space, damaging to the environment, and signficantly dangerous to citizens’ health and safety, among other reasons, the city has a ‘transit first’ policy. In order to promote that public policy, the cost of “parking” bulky private cars in public roads should match or exceed the cost of taking public transit: if public transit costs money on Sundays, so should private storage on public roads cost money on Sundays. Annual parking permits should be tied to the cost of 12 months of Fast Passes, and parking meters should stay in operation as late as local businesses are open. Don’t want to incur the costs of the privilege of parking your car on public land? Then don’t park on public land.

  • CBrinkman

    I think that the city should facilitate and subsidize those who wish to live car free as much as they facilitate and subsidize those who wish to own a car and park on city streets.

    My understanding of the extended parking meter hours proposal was that in the evening the time limit would also be extended for more then 2 hours past 6pm or 7pm. A 3 hour dinner, or 5 hour dinner and movie could be accommodated that way. And, it could also accommodate a resident who returns home from work at 6 or 7 and wants to park overnight – they pay through the metered hours. I don’t drive much so I’m happy to pay for a spot especially if it means I can find a spot to park.

    So, is the problem no parking, or no free parking?

  • I do like the idea of the city providing a bit more balance to the car-and-parking subsidies. I wonder what the city would be like if we spent as much money on bike infrastructure as we do on cars.

  • JohnB

    I guess the questions that I would like to ask those who are resolutely opposed to a 10% cut in Muni are these:

    1) If cutting the least profitable services would make Muni more viable, then why would we not make that call, in much the same way as private business does all the time?

    2) If cutting out the 10% least-used services, the 10% worst drivers and maintenance crew, and the 10% worst vehicle stock means that the average quality of service improves, then why would that be wrong?

    3) Is quantity always synonymous with quality?

    4) Given that I often see almost empty services, how would anyone here convince me that a 10% cut would not lead to, at most, maybe a 2% decrease in actual journeys?

    5) Isn’t hiving off little-used servcies and routes superior to raising fares, fess and taxes, particularly on those who don’t even use Muni?

  • the greasybear

    JohnB, if we were talking about implementing TEP recommendations, which are focused on making Muni more efficient, then the discussion would be quite different. But that isn’t what’s on the table here.

    Instead, we’re discussing a hatchet job. The biggest-ever cuts to Muni bus and rail service come at the same time Mayor Richie Rich is mouthing off about how free car parking on Sunday is “sacrosanct” and one of his Supe minions blathers on about how ‘transit first’ doesn’t really mean transit first. This massacre is about what is most lucrative and easy for San Francisco politicians and their financial backers, not about what is best for Muni and certainly not what is best for San Francisco.

  • Andy Chow

    The problem is that we are not taking about reallocation of transit resource. A reasonable case could be made that service could be reduced in some part of the system so that it can be used to improve another part of the system.

    The issue is it is a 10% service cut (not so much as what is being cut). 10% of the resource removed that will not get reallocated elsewhere. This will no way improve service. Muni is still unable to meet the demand on many routes. A cut will not change that.

  • JohnB

    Andy,
    YThe purpose of this, as I understand it, is not to reallocate resources, which would be a zero-cost change.

    The purpose is to not spend the money that that 10% represents because, quite simply, Muni doesn’t have it.

    And you don’t save much money simply by not running a service, except for saving some gas. You have to fire operators and sell vehicles. Otherwise you don’t save.

    Which makes me wonder how they plan to restore the cuts in 2012. I suspect that will be reneged on and they are just saying that to placate folks.

    But not all services are crowded. The 37 goes by my house and there is hardly anyone ever on it. You cut the 10% least-used services

  • JohnB – the problem with this argument – “You cut the 10% least-used services”, is that if you have 10 feeder lines like the 37 and 35 which are underutilized, then nobody can get to the KLM which are fully utiilized.

    Sort of like if the only flights United ran were nonstops to Denver and Chicago, but cut all the feeders into those hubs. Most of the people on the Chicago flight are connecting to somewhere else. Now, could we follow the VTA’s lead and use smaller van type buses on the feeder lines, similar to how UAL runs a 777 to Chicago and a puddle jumper from ORD to Springfield? Not sure if that theory works in practice from a maintainance/fleet standpoint, but it could be possible.

  • If any of you are interested another way to get involved is to come to the SFMTA Citizens’ Advisory Council meetings and participate in discussions on service and budget. We normally meet the first thursday of the month at 5:30 in SFMTA HQ at Van Ness & Market.

  • JohnB

    JohnM

    A feeder service with only one person on it is only feeding one person to other routes.

    A well-used service with 50 passemngers is feeding far more people to other routes.

    So you still and always cut the least-used 10% of services. That doesn’t necessarily mean removing a particular service entirely. It might mean reducing service frequencies om several routes and/or shutting them down earlier and so on.

    But either way, you cut out the 10% least-used individual journey which maybe carry only 2% of the total passengers. It’s really not complicated.

  • @Jamison you mean actually do something rather than pissing and moaning on a blog? Are you nuts! (he says on his way to meet with City Planning…)

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