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.

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/munidave/9118804988/in/photostream/##munidave/Flickr##

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.

  • Easy

    Go SFTRU! But your sign-up page is not working.
    http://www.sftru.org/join leads to


    which returns 500 Internal Server Error

  • Guest

    Pitting Transit vs Cars and especially simply wanting to increase parking rates is NOT the way to view the situation. While we need to prioritize transit via more efficient scheduling, bus stop consolidation and implementation of TEP, it also makes sense to reduce service where there is low ridership. In turn it makes it all the more important to ensure that there is strong adherence to the posted headways.

    Many other agencies ADD service while school is in session, so think of it that way. But we should also consider adjusting commute hours based on hourly ridership, especially for limited and express service.

    Lastly, we need a steady funding source! Impact fees help, and events should contribute for added service, but whether it’s from a gas tax, VMT, or sales or property tax, we need to fund it!

  • Henry

    Thank you Aaron for profiling us!

    Just a heads-up, POWER also took a stance against these cuts: http://www.peopleorganized.org/transportation/no-to-stealth-cuts-to-muni-lines-14-49-22/

  • eric rescue

    worth adding: a few months back, Muni eliminated the #26 Valencia bus, saying they were going to run the service on Mission. Then they go and cut the service on the 14 and the 49.

    BTW ride those buses, sit by the door, and see how many riders actually tap a clipper card as they board….

  • Anonymous

    It’s unfortunate that our tax dollars fund a system we have no input on. Not that rule by committee is always the best option, but what we have now doesn’t seem to be working. Does anyone have a link to the breakdown of funding for MUNI (particularly the bus and rail systems)? I couldn’t find the info easily online.

  • Henry

    Sorry you’re experiencing this situation. We’ve put in a request to Livable City to get it back up online. If you still wish to donate in person, we have a Board Meeting tonight (5:30pm @ Main Library 3rd Floor Paley).

  • Henry

    Thank you for your support!

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree with you about better funding: I’d argue for a payroll tax, for one, based on the level of transit service provided to your business. This could also be scaled based on the number of employees.

    That said, I think it’s great for SFTRU to have taken this stance. It’s a very backwards notion to focus on peak demand as a metric, and the service at full strength is too low even during the non-school season. We simply need better service year-round, and instead we’re cutting service.

    Where does this cycle end? I take the 22 fillmore to work, and this past week has been longer delays and packed buses. Congrats on saving $250k; maybe if you shut the whole thing down you’d save a ton too. The point of public transit isn’t to save money, it’s to provide an incredibly valuable service. If this city is to grow and accommodate that growth, it’s time to stop constantly talking about service cuts, period.


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