SF Weekly on “Muni’s Death Spiral”

April 14th, 2010

Today’s SF Weekly has a very detailed article on the problems facing the SFMTA, including very expensive work rules, micromanagement by the Mayor, lack of implementation of the SFTEP, extremely slow service (average 8.1 mph!), problems with the MTA board, and more.

The authors correctly call out the City Charter’s provision that establishes minimum pay for Muni operators as the average of the top two transit systems in the country. However, the article neglects to mention that this provision is only three years old. Proposition A (2007), which we supported at the time and now regret supporting, changed this provision from a maximum to a minimum, and the result is the annual “bonuses” given operators when workers in other departments and elsewhere in the MTA are taking cuts. Promises were made in 2007 that this change would provide incentives for the Transport Workers Union and the MTA to trade cash for work rule concessions, but as recent experience has shown, no such trades have been forthcoming.

This is the provision that the Elsbernd amendment (now at Fix Muni Now) attempts to resolve.

Elsbernd Amendment hits the streets; general meeting 4/27 to discuss it

April 8th, 2010

first-choice.JPGThe proposed charter amendment to remove the wage floor for MTA operators and make some additional work rule changes is now on the streets. (Our board has voted to support it.) Supervisor Elsbernd was out at West Portal to collect signatures today.

Meanwhile, please mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 27, at 6:30 pm, when we will hold a general meeting to discuss the amendment. We have invited both Supervisor Elsbernd and a representative from the Transport Workers Union. Further details to follow including location.

Update: SF Streetsblog has a detailed report.

Why we support the Elsbernd Amendment

March 16th, 2010

SFMTAIf Rescue Muni stands for anything, it stands for putting the interests of Muni riders first, ahead of ideological canards, ahead of entrenched interests, and ahead of the instincts of people—so numerous in this supposedly “progressive” city—who resist change just because change rubs them the wrong way. We believe our value is in our singular focus on making Muni better, a mission we follow wherever it leads, even when it annoys people on the right or the left, or anywhere in between. This, above all, is what Rescue Muni is for.

Right now, Muni operator pay is set by a formula: it can’t be any lower than the average of the two highest-paying transit systems in the US. Before Proposition A (2007), which we supported, the rule was it couldn’t be any higher than the average of the top two. The theory was that, by making it a floor instead of a ceiling, Muni could offer higher pay in exchange for less restrictive work rules. That was an interesting idea, but it didn’t work that way in the real world. Unions didn’t take the deal, and nothing changed – operators got higher pay by the formula, without any change in work rules.

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MTA ignores public input, proposes increases in fares Friday (but no extended meter hours)

February 23rd, 2010

SFMTADespite strong opposition by riders in recent public hearings, the MTA Board is planning to vote on proposed service cuts and fare increases to balance this year’s budget. SF Streetsblog has a good summary of what is scheduled.

In particular, the proposal does NOT include extended parking meter hours or meter enforcement on Sunday, but it does charge riders $70 per month for the privilege of using express routes and cable cars (over our opposition) and it increases senior, youth, and disabled monthly pass fares. It’s not clear if the same premium pass will also be available on BART, or if riders will need to buy multiple premium passes to ride expresses, cable cars, and BART – but regardless, this is a terrible proposal that moves Muni further away from providing universal service throughout the city, and completely ignores the Transit-First policy in the charter.

Also, a major reason for the immediate cuts is the decision by TWU Local 250A members to reject a proposed package of pension contributions and other work rule savings. Supervisor Elsbernd is proposing an amendment to the Charter that would repeal the salary floor that is there now, allowing the MTA to collectively bargain for wages as well as benefits and working conditions – we are watching this closely. But because the proposed concessions were rejected, they can’t be used to balance this year’s budget.

We urge all riders to attend Friday’s meeting (9am, City Hall Room 400) and urge a NO vote on this proposal. Sunday and evening meter hours are a much better way to solve the budget deficit for transit riders (and merchants also, who will benefit from higher turnover from their customers.)

Update: The Chronicle covered this today. Also, SPUR Director Gabriel Metcalf published an open letter to the Transport Workers Union in the Guardian urging them to vote in favor of work rule concessions.