Muni's F-Market Plan a Fare Mess

Proposed layoffs, service reductions and fare increases not popular

Even after raising fares and reducing service last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking to raise fares and reduce service yet again, as early as May.

At the SFMTA board meeting at City Hall today, the board were chewed out by everyone from Muni maintenance workers and Parking Control Officers facing layoffs to taxi drivers and riders.

Sorry, make that "customers" in Muni-speak.

However, one rider lamented, "We're not customers, we're hostages."

The proposed cuts would mean longer waits for buses during rush hour, and really long waits for buses on off-hours and along neighborhood routes.

Also, the F-Market streetcar line that stretches from the Castro to Fisherman's Wharf would go from being a normal fare to $5 -- even though the line is just as, if not more, cost-effective than many bus lines.

The agency is looking to close a budget gap of $16.9 million through the end of the year, and spends approximately 80 percent on employee salaries, hence the proposed layoffs. But as one Muni maintenance worker facing layoffs, who painted a picture of trash-strewn buses full of vermin, suggested that "a lot of bureaucratic fat at the top that could be cut."

Such as Muni chief Nathaniel Ford, the city's highest-paid employee, who makes well over $300,000 a year.

But while the parking patrol layoffs have been delayed, one officer who spoke at the public meeting today pointed out that laid off parking officers would have gene $8.6 million in revenue for the agency by issuing citations -- meaning if anything, the agency should be hiring more.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who appoints all the board members, has said that he wants San Francisco to be a "transit-first city." However, after he dismissed the idea of raising parking fees and extending meter hours last year, for the second time around the MTA board has absolutely no plans to increase the cost of driving in the city.

Who knew that a transit-first city meant that transit riders pay up first?

Jackson West can't believe people who argue that parking and congestion fees are somehow a populist issue.

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