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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Senior/disabled/youth fare increase “off table” – but we still urge NO vote

February 25th, 2010

Adult Fast PassSF Streetsblog reports today that SFMTA is unlikely to approve increases to senior, youth, and disabled Fast Pass fares in tomorrow’s meeting, but that proposals to extend meter hours and operate parking meters on Sunday are also not likely to be considered, so Rescue Muni still urges the MTA to reject the proposal. If you can speak at tomorrow’s meeting, please do.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Elsbernd’s proposed amendment appears to be gaining momentum. The Chronicle’s CW Nevius covers it today. It would remove the wage floor for operators set in Proposition A (2007) and require that operators collectively bargain for wages, hours, work rules, and benefits, just as other MTA and city workers do.

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.

Streetsblog: don’t forget stop consolidation

February 11th, 2010

LRV 3 MPHWonder why your bus still stops on every block, even though budgets are being cut to the bone? According to SF Streetsblog, MTA stop consolidation (which would speed up service and was proposed in the SFTEP, and which we have supported for years) has been put on the back burner due to the recent budget cuts. If you comment on the proposal at the upcoming MTA Board meeting, make sure to mention this zero-cost way to speed up service.

Muni Diaries’ recap of town hall meetings

February 11th, 2010

SFMTAThe always useful Muni Diaries posted a detailed recap of the recent town hall meetings on the budget deficit. Well worth a read.

Note that the next public meeting is the MTA Board on February 16.

Update: The Appeal reports that the meeting has been postponed until February 26.