SFMTA Board Votes to Partially Restore Muni Service That Was Cut in May

Myleen_photo_small.jpgPhoto: Myleen Hollero/Orange Photography
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board, which runs Muni, voted today to partially restore service that was cut in May, contingent on the Board of Supervisors approving several actions and freeing up a one-time disbursement of county sales tax revenue.

The plan to restore up to half of the service cuts beginning September 4th comes after TWU Local 250-A, the union representing Muni operators, twice voted down wage concessions negotiated by union leadership with SFMTA staff, which would have saved the agency $18.7 million over two years. That action compelled staff to get creative with fungible funding and will mean the agency will depend on two outside transportation planning bodies that have yet to make the money available.

The SFMTA Board voted to approve staff's service restoration plan provided the supervisors approve the SFMTA's FY 2010-2011 budget and, acting as the board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), approve $7 million from Proposition K revenue. The SFCTA had said disbursing the money was dependent on the SFMTA adding back 50 percent of the service it cut May 8th. That across-the-board service reduction amounted to 330,000 hours, or 10 percent of total Muni service.

The restorations would also require the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to approve the one-time disbursement of $7 million dollars in regional monies, of which $4 million would go to restore service and $3 million would be used for the SFMTA's contribution to Caltrain. The MTC has pledged to distribute the money in early September.

If the numerous conditions are met, the SFMTA would restore Owl service to every 30 minutes system-wide, up from 45 minutes, and bring back the end time for community routes, as well as certain local and rapid routes. It would also restore capacity to reduce crowding on high-volume routes, and restore service frequency on various routes at night, along with adding capacity to reduce crowding on weekend routes such as the 8X and the 30 Stockton.

The service restorations would not replace the exact service hours that were cut on May 8th, according to SFMTA staff, but will be strategic based on data from the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) findings.

In a statement released shortly after the meeting, Mayor Gavin Newsom applauded the SFMTA Board and said its hard work was paying off.

"Despite enormous state cuts to Muni and a global recession, our public transit system is putting buses back onto the street," said Newsom. "Muni must continue to improve its performance and reliability, and today's restorations are real progress in the right direction."

Members of the public weren't as enthusiastic about the solutions the board approved, arguing the situation wasn't rosy enough for the agency to be gushing about itself.  The 10 percent service reduction has led to more frustration among Muni riders, and overcrowding is all too common.

Fran Taylor, an occasional Streetsblog contributor and a member of CC Puede, said the SFMTA was being dishonest when it used words like "improvement" to describe the service restorations to the public.

"If someone steals your wallet and it has $100 in it and then they come up to you the next day and it has $50 in it and they say, 'Here, here's a present for you,' would you call that an improvement?" she asked "No. If you did, you'd be considered an idiot. Stop treating us like idiots, stop insulting us."

Taylor said adding back service to an inadequate system was something the public would take, but she insisted the agency stop treating riders like children.

Eric Scott said took it further and said the SFMTA should stop treating its equipment like children with early bed times and extend evening operations later. "Early curfews are for underage children. While most of Muni's buses are not old enough to vote (F-line street cars certainly are), please allow them to stay out at night with the adults."

Cameron Beach was the only member of the SFMTA Board to raise concerns about the plan presented by staff to restore service without having all the money to do it already in hand. The first round of voting on a motion to approve staff's recommendation to restore service without contingencies failed when Beach voted no (it didn't help that the board is down two members because Mayor Newsom still hasn't appointed replacements for former directors James McCray and Shirley Breyer Black, who were termed out in late April).

Beach insisted the directors add an amendment with the contingencies at the Board of Supervisors, the SFCTA and the MTC before he would vote in favor. Beach told Streetsblog after the meeting he wasn't particularly concerned any of the contingencies wouldn't be met.

SFMTA CEO Nat Ford agreed with Beach's assessment and said he would proceed with organizing for the service restoration while simultaneously negotiating with the supervisors and the MTC to get the money. Ford said the supervisors as SFCTA directors had already signaled their willingness to give him the $7 million requested provide the SFMTA agreed to restore service and he said the MTC had given him indications that the other $7 million would be coming, likely in September.

Muni Service Restored

Specific service restorations, assuming several contingencies are met and the SFMTA receives $14 million from the MTC and the SFCTA, would look like this:

Restore Owl Service to Every 30 Minutes System Wide

  • L Owl
  • N Owl
  • 22 Fillmore Owl
  • 90 San Bruno Owl
  • 91 Owl

Restore End Times for Community Routes

  • 17 Parkmerced
  • 35 Eureka
  • 36 Teresita
  • 37 Corbett
  • 39 Coit (weekends only)
  • 52 Excelsior
  • 66 Quintara
  • 67 Bernal Heights

Restore End Times for Local and Rapid Routes

  • F Market/Wharves
  • 5 Fulton
  • 9 San Bruno
  • 19 Polk
  • 21 Hayes
  • 27 Bryant
  • 28 19th Avenue
  • 29 Sunset
  • 43 Masonic
  • 44 O’Shaughnessy
  • 54 Felton

Add Capacity to Reduce Weekday Crowding

  • F Market/Wharves  (midday and pm peak)
  • 1 California (midday and pm peak)
  • 5 Fulton (all day)
  • 8X/AX/BX Bayshore Expresses (all day, including weekends)
  • 14L Mission Limited (all day)
  • 18 46th Avenue (midday)
  • 24 Divisadero (all day)
  • 33 Stanyan (am/pm peak and midday)
  • 35 Eureka (pm peak)
  • 37 Corbett (am peak)
  • 43 Masonic (midday)
  • 44 O’Shaughnessy (midday and pm peak)
  • 52 Excelsior (pm peak)
  • Rail System (all day)

Restore Service Frequency at Night

  • 5 Fulton
  • 8X Bayshore Express
  • 9 San Bruno
  • 14 Mission
  • 22 Fillmore
  • 28 19th Avenue
  • 31 Balboa
  • 44 O’Shaughnessy
  • 49 Van Ness/Mission

Add Capacity to Reduce Weekend Crowding

  • 8X/AX/BX Bayshore Expresses
  • 30 Stockton
  • 45 Union/Stockton