Controversial Subway Fights for Funds

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 12: San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) cable car gripman Ken Lunardi rings his way towardsa second place finish at the 45th annual Cable Car Bell- Ringing competition July 12, 2007 in San Francisco. Leonard Oats captured the 2007 cable car bell-ringing title by playing a 30 second tune on a cable car bell. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ken Lunardi

    A controversial plan to extend a subway between Bayview, Caltrain, and Chinatown is hunting furiously for cash.

    The expansion of the T-Third, expected to cost around $1.6 billion, will mostly be paid for with federal funds. But Muni needs to provide more than $100 million, and possibly more than $200 million. That's going to be a challenge for the cash-strapped agency, which has seen rider abandonment en masse as service is cut, fares go up, and technical failures render the system unusable.

    Changing political players could also delay Muni's access to money.

    To close the gap, Muni may go ofter state bonds. One likely target is a high-speed rail bond, designed to help passengers connect between different transit agencies.

    In order to ensure funding of the subway, Muni needs to prove that the project will benefit citizens and businesses, and won't negatively impact the rest of the system. That's a point of contention, with some local transit activists claiming that the subway line will prove under-used and disruptive to existing service.

    Meanwhile, Muni has re-instated its ambassador program, which was cut in September after funding ran out. Under the program, a team is dispatched to high-crime areas to monitor and intervene in potential altercations. It costs half-a-million dollars.