Can Obama Save Muni? - NBC Bay Area

Can Obama Save Muni?



    Can Obama Save Muni?
    President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    With $4/gallon gas just around the corner and some analysts predicting $5/gallon by next year, there's never been a better time to invest in alternatives to cars and highways.

    Drivers are already driving less in order to save money, according to the CC Times. But many are trapped in suburbs that have failed to build public transit, leaving them prisoners of their automobiles.

    President Obama's newly proposed transportation budget may come as somewhat of a rescue. Hundreds of millions will go towards transit projects in San Francisco, particularly the Central Subway that will link Bayview, Caltrain, Chinatown, and potentially North Beach. Additional funds will go towards rapid transit on Van Ness, taking away a lane of car traffic and dedicating it to buses, according to the Gate.

    Obama's plan also provides $8 billion for high-speed rail, an overhaul of the nations air travel system, and $28 billion for developing transit-oriented neighborhoods where it's easy to get around without owning a car. The car-centered suburbs of the 1950s are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    Meanwhile, Muni is also considering a plan to reduce the cost of passes for low-income students as a way to serve more riders. With slow speeds and unreliable schedules, many potential Muni customers are wary of relying on the bus and have explored other options like driving, biking, and walking, all of which are more predictable than Muni service.

    Questions also linger around high-speed rail's path around the bay. Many municipalities between Stockton and San Jose are wary of fast trains passing through town, but others welcome the increase in pedestrians that transit would bring, according to the CC Times. With a variety of proposals on the table, we won't likely know where rail will go for another year.