Muni Events Roundup: Summit Set for March 6, MTA Board Vote Next Friday


The upcoming weeks hold several key events for Muni’s future that transit supporters won’t want to miss, including an MTA vote on service cuts, public hearings on the budget, and a summit of groups trying to save Muni.

  • MTA Board Vote on Service Cuts and Fare Increases: February 26

First, the MTA Board will be voting next Friday, February 26,
on a round of massive service cuts and fare increases that would go
into effect on May 1 if passed. Don’t get tripped up by the date:
Instead of the usual Tuesday MTA Board meeting time, it’s a special Friday
at 9 a.m., in Room 400 at City Hall. As always, the public
will have a chance to comment.

  • "March Against Muni": March 1

Not all of the upcoming events are policy-based, intellectual
affairs: a "March Against
" will take place on March 1, which its organizers hope
will galvanize the MTA to start meeting its demands, including stopping
service cuts and fare hikes. The march is set to start outside Powell
Station at 5 p.m. and continue on to City Hall.

This event isn’t affiliated with
the summit or transit rider coalition that’s been forming, but seems to be tapping into a sense of frustration with
riders over Muni service. Several transit advocates bemoaned the
protest’s name, and its list of demands without solutions,
but anything that puts pressure on City Hall to do something about Muni
may have something going for it.

  • Muni Summit: March 6

A summit that will bring together Muni riders, transit activists and just about any group interested in saving the city’s transit system now has an official date: March 6.

As Streetsblog reported last week, there’s a great deal of transit activism arising from concern over the MTA’s budget crisis, which could lead to Muni service cuts of ten percent or more, plus senior/youth/disabled Fast Pass hikes and other fare increases.

Dozens of organizations across the city are banding together to come up with solutions to Muni’s ongoing budget problems at the summit. In addition to transit advocacy organizations, the summit’s organizers are expecting neighborhood groups, affordable housing groups, and, presumably, large numbers of individual transit riders from across the city to attend.

The summit will be held at The Women’s Building, 3543 18th Street, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on March 6.

  • Town Hall Meetings on Budgets for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012: March 10 and 20

As bad as the current budget crisis is, the next two fiscal years will be worse. Much worse. Even with deep service cuts, the MTA would still face a budget gap totaling $100 million over fiscal years 2011 and 2012. If the MTA were to balance that through service cuts alone, it would mean a cut of almost 30 percent from current service levels.

That’s why town hall meetings at MTA headquarters at 1 South Van Ness Avenue on Wednesday, March 10 (6 p.m) and Saturday, March 20 (10 a.m.) are so important: Both will discuss the budgets for the upcoming two years. Armed with ideas from the March 6 Muni summit, transit supporters should have time to present a unified front on medium- and long-term solutions to Muni’s budget crisis.

  • MTA Board Vote and Hearings on Budgets for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012: April 6 and 20

The MTA Board could vote on a two-year budget at its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 6 or Tuesday, April 20. Both are at 2 p.m. in Room 400 at City Hall. (MTA Board meetings on March 2 and March 30 (same time of day, same place) will discuss the upcoming budget without a vote.)

  • Board of Supervisors Votes: TBD

Watch out for more key votes without announced dates yet: The Board of Supervisors must vote on any fare increases proposed by the MTA, and it also must approve the MTA’s two-year budget in May before it can be adopted. Stay tuned for dates on those meetings.

  • Speak Up – Online

Finally, as Streetsblog previously noted, if you can’t make it to any of these meetings in person, you can let the MTA Board and the Mayor know what you think by sending an email through the SFBC’s transit page.

  • I think a boycot and “march AGAINST muni” are two of the stupidest things you could do. Hey SFMTA, look at us get live without you, but please don’t cut service. Speaking of SFMTA, they should be marching against them and the MTC, not MUNI. And as the person who listed out the demands in a way to foster discussion is on the right path. You can’t just demand something and then offer no reasonable solutions, especially when most of the demands themselves aren’t very reasonable in the first place.

  • Oops, had a couple errors there, but I think you can get the point.

    Also, why are paper fast passes so bad? I think that is demand #10. Why not demand not to rename TransLink to Clipper? That’s a couple hundred thousand flushed down the drain. And why is excessive pay so far down the list? Why isn’t the raiding of MUNI funds by police and 311 even on there?

    Probably given that group too much of my attention already.

  • I have to agree, some of the ‘demands” aren’t particularly well thought out, but it’ll make people feel good to get mad and get out on the streets.

    I’d much rather support some sort of comprehensive repair and reform so the agency isn’t so permanently f*cked up, but that’s not happening anytime soon.

    Sometimes I wonder if SF deserves a crappy transit system, since no one can be bothered to vote for anyone or anything that isn’t all about “feeling good” and not about substance.

  • Nick

    They’ve begun to prepare the general public for fare hikes. This morning they had a new banner at the top of the escalator at Emabarcadero BART that read “Tough Choices Ahead” and something about a budget crisis.

  • Alex

    mikesonn: I agree that the name and demands aren’t the greatest… but if it gets people motivated to do something, it’s a good start. I would rather see people boycott the merchants that are pressuring the MTA to favor parking over transit (such as the Chinatown & Geary merchants).

    Both recently and historically people have made plenty of proposals that would meet those demands. As long as the MTA’s willing to turn a deaf ear towards transit riders, nuanced discourse would be wasted on them.

    That said, there are plenty of opportunities to hone your message. The resurrected(?) rider’s union is one of them. They’ve got a meeting coming up on Monday afternoon.

  • OutofControl

    SFMTA stand for San Francisco Monster Transportation Agency is attacking the vulnerable and fragile minority people who are taking buses every day. Boycot and March Against Muni are failure to stop Monsters in the 21st century, people have to file the lawsuits and to stop Monsters abuse the public transportation system and suck our blood.

  • @Alex – I agree that action is needed, but I think boycotting could do a lot more damage then good. About the merchants, I agree that something should be done, but taking Chinatown as an example, those merchants aren’t really getting their voice heard. There is a very very strong political force within Chinatown that speaks in its own self interest and not in the best interest of the merchants or the residents.

    Probably the best thing that can be done is handing out something that says you walked/biked/rode PT to their store, wear a shirt stating that, or talk to the owner. They sit in their store and see tons of cars driving by, but the cars are doing just that – driving by. A high majority of the people shopping are walking or taking transit and they just need to hear that. Then the merchants can start seeing the disconnect from what their representation is saying and what they are seeing in their stores.

    The march is probably a good thing, but the message it needs to send it we NEED MUNI to work. Our city, in order to continue to function as a place of residence and business, NEEDS public transportation. The message coming out of this march is just blind rage with no clear direction except to break MUNI. I could be totally wrong and that is what is needed, but something like this march should have taken place after the first round of cuts or fare increases nearly a year ago. We’ve had a year to gather ourselves and take a more sophisticated approach – i.e. a summit to discussion options or a transit riders union that can have a discourse with the powers that be. Marches against (and not for) something smack of reaction-ism instead of being proactive.

  • people have the right to protest and are angry about things that are happening to them that they have no control over and affect their lives. they feel powerless and need to vent and/or feel like they are being heard. whether or not it solves anything, who knows and who cares.

    regarding a boycott, solutions to curtailed and expensive muni access are either to ride a bicycle, walk or drive a car. i have chosen walking and riding my bicycle. it’s cheaper, and often faster than muni, which is an inefficient piece of shit and colossal waste of money, regardless of how much funding it receives.

  • sfsmskater

    I heard the muni drivers are going to vote again for a different package.

  • @cochon – I’m not saying they don’t have a right. Go ahead and march. But I’m just pointing out my opinion that I think it is stupid to protest AGAINST MUNI. And I ride my bike for my commute now to cause MUNI isn’t reliable enough to get me there on time, but my wife and I still need MUNI to get us around town. Driving a car, while an option for most, is not one for us and would only further wreck our city and our transit system. I believe telling people to boycott a very necessary service for tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people is irresponsible and will only further SFMTA’s (apparent) goal of running MUNI right into the ground.

  • Sue

    I am communication with one of the March Against Muni organizers — and may at some point be willing to join forces. But I will not lend my name to something that I oppose — Muni. So I have not joined on Facebook. I invite the rest of you, however, to join Muni First! (not Muni Last!) on Facebook.

  • Nick

    The 10% across the board service cut doesn’t seem rational. Has anyone ever done a study on the how riders are either completely-reliant vs. semi-reliant on MUNI?

    A lot of people will take the LRV’s only but not the local city busses. Cutting LRV service could force those people back into their cars.

  • the reality is that in this capitalist society, it takes money to do things and when there is no money to do things, things don’t get done. no amount of cordial sit-down discussions and hand-shaking between “us” and “them” is going to change the fact that there is no money to run this system properly and some elements of it will have to be sacrificed to save it as a whole.

    maybe we should just have a big bake-sale to raise funds to stop service cuts. invite the whole state.

    @mikesonn – i believe i understand what you are trying to say, but saying that protesting is “stupid” is melodramatic. it is what it is and this is the city of protest. if you don’t want protest in your city, san diego is a perfectly fine place to raise a family.

    i protested both iraq wars. i knew it was a total waste of time and “stupid” and that it wouldn’t change anybody’s mind. i did it anyway and i’m happy i did, because i felt “empowered.” whatever that means. i came away with a sense that i had made my voice heard, though in reality it had been ignored. i just needed to feel this “empowerment.” the tens/hundreds/thousands of san franciscans who will march against muni will never have the opportunity to sit down with muni and negotiate a deal that will save it, but with their protest they will be able to go home and feel like they have. call me crazy, but i feel that that is what people need right now. sure, it won’t change anything, but neither will sitting down with them and “playing ball.”

    anyway, my protest is simply riding my bicycle, just as you have been doing. this is an opportunity for bicycling to really take hold in this city.

    hooray for bikes.

  • @cochon – I marched against the wars too for several years. I think protesting is a great way to vent frustration when there are no other outlets. And please, refrain from telling me to move to San Diego, want to talk about melodramatic. I was saying that marching AGAINST MUNI is stupid, not marching against the current state of things. How your phrase your stance has a lot to do with how it is received.

    March against the state cutting funding, or Newsom not doing his job, or SFMTA not doing their jobs and just doing the most basic things to “fix” the budget. Maybe Nat Ford needs a march against him – I can think of 300k reasons to tell him to take a hike. But marching against the life blood of the city isn’t a good message to send, and boycotting it is even a worse one. This isn’t a private enterprise that has stock holders to appease if the fare box goes to hell. This is a public service that will see people not using said service and then cut it all back even further.

    But something has to be done, so go ahead and march. I just think the march/boycott are doing the rest of a us a disservice.

  • And yes, hooray for bikes!

  • Alex

    “A lot of people will take the LRV’s only but not the local city busses. Cutting LRV service could force those people back into their cars.”

    What? I call b.s. Look at the T. It doesn’t have dramatically higher ridership than the 15. The LRV lines carry a paucity of the riders in San Francisco at a rather high cost. Take a look at the 38. If you look at the 38 alone you’ll have similar ridership between the N and 38. If you add in the 38L, 38X, 38AX, and 38BX, far more people travel down Geary than Judah. People will use buses, and buses (especially the trolley coaches) cost less to operate.

    @mikesonn If you look at how the March Against MUNI folks define boycott, you’ll see it’s a bit more harmless and a bit more ridiculous than you’d first imagine. The idea is to boycott the fast pass. If said people pay cash fares, the MTA will get *more* money. If the idea was a fare boycott, I’d say that’s a brilliant idea.

    As for boycotting merchants… in an ideal world simply offering up a carrot would work. In a more practical sense you’ll need a carrot and a stick. Cards that explain why you’re taking your business elsewhere in conjunction with cards that explain why you’re shopping at a given store are, IMO, the way to go. Notice that the D10 merchants strongly supported the Sunday Streets idea, and that the Wharf merchants did not. Likewise, a boycott of Plumpjack would be to great amusement to me.

  • Dan Volski

    boycotting muni? who came up with this? muni’s budget was fine (even if it’s always to close to the be broken) until Sacramento cut their share of funding. not city, not board of supes, but Sacramento. they did it w/o warning and w/o real legal basis. you don’t want service cuts or fares hikes? go march against Sacramento. what’s the point of boycotting against muni? after all sf is in the top 3 or 4 biggest contributors of the state’s revenue and we get back only but a tiny portion of it.

  • NBP

    @Alex It depends. Ridership wise, the N-Judah performs better than almost every bus line in SF, with the exception of the Mission and Geary Corridors. This is because it serves areas that are nearly impossible the serve by bus and very inefficient to get around by Car (ever try parking in Cole Valley?). As for the other light rail lines, they don’t have very good ridership above ground, save for the K Monday through Thursday (City College). The exception is the M from downtown to SF State, which is almost as busy as several major bus lines. Overall, Buses carry more riders in SF, but every Muni Metro Line carries more people than most of the city’s bus lines.

    As for costs, Muni Metro is mostly expensive in terms of capital costs (T-Third: over $.5 billion Central Subway: $1.6+ billion). Rail has lower labor costs, because less drivers are needed to carry more people. While buses can utilize existing city streets, they need more drivers, need constant fueling and maintenance (less so with trolleybuses), and have to be replaced more often than rail equipment (Diesel Buses: approx 15-17 years, more with costly retrofits. Trolley Buses: approx 25-30 years. LRV’s: 25 years, 30 or more with retrofits).

  • Alex

    @NBP Not willing to ride a bus vs not being able to be served by a bus are two different issues.

    As for costs, not quite. Diesel and trolley buses come out as the cheapest vehicles for the MTA to run per hour and per passenger. The cost per rider mile is lowest for the diesel coaches (mainly because they serve most passengers). (pp29-30)

    Besides, the vehicle costs themselves are well out of line. A hybrid bus (which generally carry a hefty premium over a diesel coach) costs under $500,000. The Breda LRVs that the MTA bought cost about $4 million dollars each (plus hundreds of thousands per vehicle in various safety campaigns to fix design flaws with). The previous Boeing LRVs were, what, twenty years old before they were scrapped?

    Daily ridership by line:

    F – 18520
    J – 16695
    K+T – 32746
    L – 29842
    M – 28671
    N – 45252

    1 – 23600
    9X – 19983

    14 – 32849
    14L – 4940
    14X – 2711
    14 (all) – 40500

    15 – 29524
    22 – 18892
    29 – 14961
    30 – 22124

    38 – 33003
    38L – 21304
    38AX – 986
    38BX – 1180
    38 (all) – 56473

    49 – 25266

    So nine bus routes that carry more than the two lowest performing rail routes (F + J). And if you look at the busy corridors, Geary and Mission have higher ridership (especially if you factor in the 14 variants + 47) than any rail corridor (save for Market St). With enough willpower (dedicated transit lanes and proper enforcement) the city could serve pretty much every rail line with buses… and do it for less money.


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