SFTRU Speaks Out Against Muni Service Cuts During Summer Break

Muni shouldn’t cut service to save money while school’s out for summer, the SF Transit Riders Union said in a statement yesterday. SFTRU is speaking out against what they call the SFMTA’s double standard of reducing transit service in “the blink of an eye” while deliberating smart parking policy changes for years.

Muni reduced service on several lines from June 29 to August 19, when most schools aren’t in session, to account for the drop in student ridership. The SFMTA says it expects to save $240,000 during the summer season. The agency also reduced service on student-heavy lines during the most recent winter and spring breaks, saving about $275,000 and $78,000, respectively, and reported no significant problems.

SFTRU’s Mario Tanev said that’s no excuse, since Muni has already cut too much service in recent years. “The fact is that with numerous service cuts during the past decade, peak and off-peak service on almost all lines has been downgraded to unacceptably low levels,” he said in a statement. “When combined with Muni’s historic lack of reliability, the proposed reduction in service will frequently result in even higher waiting times than promised.”

Noting that “San Francisco is the only major city in the US which has lost riders in the last decade,” Tanev argued that the cuts will exacerbate a “death spiral” of “service cuts and fare increases that force more to drive, in turn slowing Muni and making service even worse.”

Here are the summer service cuts, as summarized by the SFMTA:

  • 14 Mission
    • All day: Adjust frequency from 8 to 10 minutes
    • No change to 14L Mission Ltd and 14X Mission Express
  • 49 Mission-Van Ness
    • All day: Adjust frequency from 8 to 10 minutes
  • 22 Fillmore
    • Approx. 6 to 9 a.m.: Adjust frequency from 9 to 12 minutes
    • Approx. 3 to 6 p.m.: Adjust frequency from 8 to 10 minutes
  • 29 Sunset
    • Approx. 6 to 9 a.m.: Adjust frequency from 10 to 15 minutes
  • 48 24th Street
    • Approx. 6 to 9 a.m.: Adjust frequency from 10 to 12 minutes

The SFMTA also announced that it permanently increased service on a few other lines, beginning on the same start date:

  • 5 Fulton weekend service will increase in frequency from 9 to 8 minutes between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • 9 San Bruno weekend service will use 40-foot buses and increase frequency from 15 to 12 minutes all day.
  • L Owl bus service will no longer stop at Forest Hill Station. The nearest stop for service in both directions is at Woodside and Hernandez avenues.

Even if the SFMTA abandons seasonal cuts, however, Tanev said “history shows they will simply find another way to cut service.” He writes:

Neither option is acceptable. We propose that until SFMTA’s capital and operational budgets are properly funded,  SFMTA uses its existing powers to raise revenue instead to fund service: increase the price of parking, extend parking meter hours in commercial districts to evenings, and add parking meters where demand is high. We have all witnessed how simple common-sense parking changes result only AFTER years of public process, while transit service cuts are done at the blink of an eye, sometimes without even one public meeting.

This double standard cannot continue.