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Mayor Ed Lee

SFTRU: Mayor Lee Keeps Giving Muni Riders the Short End of the Stick

Reps from the SF Transit Riders Union today said Mayor Ed Lee's recent repeal of Sunday parking meters and abandonment of the vehicle license fee add up to an attack on transit riders.

"Somehow riders keep coming up at the short end of this stick,” SFTRU spokesperson Daniel Sisson said in a statement. "It is extremely difficult to see our city’s actions as anything but entirely hostile to the 700,000 transit riders each day. It’s a complete failure of leadership."

Forget "Transit First." Mayor Lee's backtracking on two of the most promising transit efforts to come out under his administration reflect a "transit last" stance, SFTRU said in a press release. "In a time when we should be rising to meet the demand for transit today, and the increasing demand for transit in the city’s future, Ed Lee refuses to prioritize Muni at every turn."

Lee announced this week that he would abandon support for the proposed ballot measure to restore the vehicle license fee within SF, which would raise about $1 billion over the next 15 years to re-pave roads and improve Muni, walking, and bicycling. That measure, which would reverse Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2004 cut to the VLF statewide, is the only proposal from the Mayor's Transportation 2030 Task Force that specifically asks drivers to contribute to the transportation network in a way that starts to reflect the disproportionate costs they impose on it. Lee said there isn't enough voter support to restore the VLF, based on a poll that found 44 percent would vote for it.

But winning support among motorists for transportation revenue measures at the ballot this November was the mayor's stated rationale for pushing through the repeal of Sunday parking meters in April, taking an estimated $11 million from Muni operations. When it goes into effect in July, the repeal will undo a policy that has cut in half the time drivers take to find a parking spot, reducing congestion that delays Muni vehicles.

The mayor claimed that bringing back free Sunday parking would help quell a purported backlash against Sunday meters, even though there is no evidence of protests from anyone but church leaders. "Then he just pulled the VLF off the ballot," said SFTRU Chair Bob Boden. "That’s called ‘bait and switch.’"

SFTRU also blamed Lee for "failing to manage transit labor negotiations," leading to the ongoing "sick-out" staged by Muni operators that has crippled Muni service since yesterday.

Mayor Lee issued a statement today lambasting the sick-out, which Muni operators say is intended to protest a proposed increase in their pension contributions:

I join Muni riders throughout our City in their frustration at Muni drivers who irresponsibly abandoned their jobs and intentionally disrupted our City’s public transportation system. This cannot continue. I say to our drivers, 'People count on you to do your job so they can get to theirs.' As public servants, we are obligated to serve the residents of this City, not punish them when you disagree with the amount of your raise, or the contributions you must pay toward your pension. There is a clear and agreed upon process in place to arbitrate the agreement you are disputing, a process the union has agreed to and the voters put in place. The public should not be punished any longer. I would like to thank the drivers who did not participate in this illegal action and did their best to keep our City moving.

SFTRU called the whole episode "another reminder of the long line of actions that continue to hold San Francisco transit riders hostage," and urged the mayor, the SFMTA board, and city supervisors "to work tirelessly to put an end to this vicious cycle and follow our city charter: prioritize transit first."

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