Don’t wait for the Culture Bus

August 17th, 2009

Don’t wait for the Culture Bus, because starting at 6PM today it will no longer be making its run between downtown and the museums. After 11 months and numerous service cuts, the Culture Bus line, known as the 74x, will finally go out of service, freeing valuable man power and bus resources to the cash-strapped SFMTA. Even cutting service to once and hour and raising fares to $10 for all day rides wasn’t enough to lure enough passengers.

Rescue Muni’s policy since this line’s inception was the immediate elimination of the 74x, and we’re glad to see it finally happen, but the loss of precious revenue to this program over these 11 months could have gone to stave off other Muni cuts.

Supervisors don’t reject the budget (but may seek more power over MTA)

May 27th, 2009

SFMTAFrom N Judah Chronicles on Twitter: the proposal to reject the budget failed, with only five Supervisors (Avalos, Campos, Daly, Mar, and Mirkarimi) voting to reject. (We had urged rejection due to the inflated work orders causing excessive service cuts.)

Meanwhile some Supervisors are promoting yet another charter amendment, this time to give the Supervisors control of three of the MTA board appointees, and make one elected. We opposed an amendment like this the last time it went before the voters.

Update: The Chronicle covers the story.

Board continues MTA budget hearing to May 27

May 20th, 2009

SFMTAThe Board of Supervisors might still reject the MTA budget. The Budget Committee scheduled a special hearing on May 27 to reconsider the motion to reject. Seven votes are needed to reject the budget (as we and others advocated last week); last time the motion failed by one vote. Supervisor Avalos and others have been urging rejection mainly to keep youth and disabled fares from increasing (promoting the so-called “Transit Justice” package); we also have been urging rejection, to prevent service cuts due to the inflated work orders from other city departments.

If the budget is rejected, one option to increase revenue and reduce service cuts is to extend parking meter hours to 10 pm and also enforce meters on Sundays. Another, as we have urged all along, is for the MTA to demand lower work order amounts from other city departments, notably SFPD. And increased fines for fare evasion would also be helpful.

The special meeting is next Wednesday, May 27, at noon. (Those who work in SF can attend at lunch hour!) We’ll post the details closer to the meeting.

Dufty: Raise fare evasion fines to $500 max

May 18th, 2009

Adult Fast PassAs part of the continuing budget debate about the MTA, Supervisor Dufty is urging Muni to raise fines for fare evasion to $75 from the current $50, and more importantly raise fines for repeat offenses to $500 for a third offense.

Although this won’t close the budget gap on its own, this is a much needed proposal. Fare evasion is a serious problem on Muni, particularly on many bus lines where riders board via the back door with impunity. With fares going up to $2 soon, fare paying riders deserve to know that everyone is paying his or her fair share. If this is done, MTA needs to post signs reminding riders of the $500 maximum fine – as is done for red light photo enforcement and carpool lanes.

Perhaps littering on the bus should also have a $500 maximum fine?

MTA and Supervisors agree on $10M in cuts, approve budget

May 13th, 2009

SFMTAThe Supervisors yesterday declined to reject the MTA budget after a deal was struck with MTA director Nat Ford to make $10 million in budget cuts, including only $2.8 million in cuts to work orders (out of $63 million – read down to 6:41 PM in SF Appeal’s live blog) to other city departments, in an attempt to avoid further cuts in service. Among the cuts was a decision to delay hiring of parking control officers and fare inspectors, which is likely to cause more service delays and could reduce parking revenue.

No details yet on which work orders will be reduced, though riders who have recently seen cops on the buses should now expect them to disappear, now that SFPD is keeping the majority (or all?) of its inflated allocation and isn’t making a show of cooperating with the MTA. There does not appear to have been a decision to move control of the traffic division to MTA, as was previously proposed.

Fares will still go up as scheduled, except for Lifeline Pass users.

Update: The Budget Committee voted to send the motion to reject the budget back to the full board. At the moment the motion doesn’t have the votes, so the budget is likely to stand.