SFMTA deficit could mean cuts to service, reroutes

By Alex Emslie
Opinions and Editorials Editor

“I find it quite alarming and in some ways disrespectful,” said District 11 Supervisor John Avalos of the proposed San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency budget passed by the Board of Supervisors May 27.

The SFMTA’s $128.9 million deficit projected for fiscal year 2009-10 caused the agency to include a 50 cent hike to MUNI fares and a $10 increase to fast pass prices which took effect on July 1. Cuts and reroutes of bus services are scheduled for mid-October. The board approved the budget in a contentious 6-5 vote at the special meeting.

“I do feel that this could be much better,” District One Supervisor Eric Mar said. “It’s still an unbalanced and unfair budget that doesn’t share the burden with riders and drivers.”

Dissenting supervisors wanted to see more revenue from parking fee increases and less from MUNI fares. SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford acknowledged that more money could come from parking fees and said the agency would revisit that source over the next 90 days.

City College student and MUNI operator Emanuel Andreas, who recently founded the Bay Area Transportation Advisory Committee to act as a mediator between operators, their union and the SFMTA, said he would like to “completely reject” the budget and “start from scratch.”

“We don’t want the same type of thing next year; coming up asking for more money from working class people,” Andreas said. “The deficit is not going to go away until there is a structural change within the organization.”

The BATAC would like to see administration shoulder some of the burden of the fiscal crisis. “We want them to cut down at least five percent from management,” Andreas said.

“The fact that you may be adding services to other lines that are around it misses the underlying point,” said District Nine Supervisor David Campos to Ford, “which is that people who live in [Alemany] projects are now going to have to transfer to get to the supermarket.”

Campos was referring to the 67 line, which services parts of Bernal Heights, Alemany Blvd. and Mission Street. The western portion of the 67 loop is scheduled to be cut. Although Mission Street would still be served by the 14, eliminating half of the 67 loop ends direct service from Alemany Blvd. and Bernal Heights to the Mission.

“This is the only bus that runs by here,” said MUNI patron Naz Romero, as the 67 began its descent from the top of Bernal Heights. “This bus has always been in my neighborhood.”

“[The 67] runs sparse as it is. For those of us who live on the top of the hill, that’s a pain,” said Paul Wilson, another MUNI rider. “It’s terrible,” he added about the cuts.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said San Francisco’s $500 million deficit would “make this debate look like child’s play,” before voting to approve the SFMTA budget. “This is not the last word of this body on MUNI,” he added.

Information on MUNI service cuts and fare increases can be found at www.sfmta.com
Information on the BATAC can be found at www.baytac.org

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