Officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Wednesday announced the agency will not raise Muni fares over the next two years, thanks to a deal cut with members of the city's Board of Supervisors.
Back in April, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved authorizing changes to its fares, prompting outcry from residents who denounced possible fare changes in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In response, Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Dean Preston led efforts to halt fare hikes, first introducing legislation to ban Muni fare hikes amid a public health emergency, followed by a charter amendment for the November ballot that would eliminate the SFMTA's exclusive authority to set fare prices and create a separate process for supervisors to accept or reject fare changes.
However, during a Wednesday news conference, SFMTA director of transportation Jeffrey Tumlin announced the agency had reached a deal with both Peskin and Preston, promising no fare hikes for the next two-year budget cycle in exchange for the ballot measure being dropped.
"This is absolutely the wrong time to raise Muni fares in San Francisco," Peskin said. "The SFMTA and the Board of Supervisors have turned the page and we are working together. We are going to collaborate in the years ahead."
"One thing is very clear: we will not raise fares on struggling San Franciscans," Preston said.
Since the city issued the March 17 stay-at-home order, Muni, like all other Bay Area transit agencies, has seen a dramatic decline in ridership, resulting in revenue loss.
"We realize that now is a terrible time and we are struggling as an agency as well," SFMTA board member Gwyneth Borden said. "I want to thank supervisors Peskin and Preston for working with us and coming up with strategies so that we don't have to raise the fares."
Tumlin said he welcomed the deal with supervisors, adding that the fare increases were being considered as a way to solve a budget deficit that was already growing before COVID-19 struck.
"That's what we were trying to solve back then," he said. Under the new agreement, in addition to no fare hikes for the next two years and the charter amendment being dropped, the SFMTA will work with supervisors and the Mayor's Budget Office to find new revenue sources to avoid any future service cuts and establish a fare increase policy that ties future fare increases to performance standards and transit equity, according to the supervisors.
The promise of no fare hikes is being backed by Transport Workers Union Local 250A, which represents the agency's transit operators.