Mayor Newsom Weighs in on SFMTA Budget in Weekly Address

If you’re wondering why Mayor Gavin Newsom supports a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency two-year budget that continues major Muni service reductions, you just might find your answer in the Mayor’s weekly YouTube update.

In a thirteen-minute discussion of the SFMTA budget, the Mayor admits he’s not proud of the budget, but defends it as addressing "reality" in light of the state’s theft of State Transit Assistance (STA) funds over the past few years. The Mayor also argues that the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A (TWU), which represents Muni operators, should make concessions similar to other public unions to help stave off the cuts.

As for proposals to extend parking meter enforcement hours to Sundays and evenings, install new parking meters around the city, enforce provisions in the planning code that prohibit discounted long-term parking downtown, and pursue other revenue options instead of cutting service, the Mayor concludes that those first three wouldn’t quite add up to the $28.8 million necessary to cancel the cuts for the next fiscal year, and thus they shouldn’t be pursued at all.

He’s also got sharp words for the Board of Supervisors, which put strings on a $7 million transfer from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to the SFMTA that include reducing the service cuts by half. On the parking meter front, the Mayor points out that only one of the supervisors has opted-in to a program that would pilot extended meter hours in their district.

Indeed, the Mayor and some of the supervisors have been slow to support extended meter hours, citing the unfair impact it would have on drivers during tough economic times. But service cuts and fare increases for Muni riders — on Sundays, evenings, and every other time of the week — seem to be causing less sweat for the city’s elected class, despite overwhelming evidence that extended meter hours would actually be an economic boon for businesses that benefit from the increased turnover. Cutting Muni service and raising fares, by contrast, is not known to have any economic upside.

What do you think of the Mayor’s take on the SFMTA budget? And be sure to let the Board of Supervisors know at the Budget and Finance committee hearing on Wednesday, when the supervisors will consider whether to accept or reject the two-year budget.

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