With some of the oldest buses in the nation, the SFMTA has placed an order for 45 40′ low floor New Flyer Hybrid buses at $752,000 each. The new fleet members will replace 13 year old buses that will be in service the summer of next year. On the horizon is the purchase of 60′ articulated trolly buses, which will replace part of the existing 20 year old 60′ fleet over the next 2 years, as well as a $19m overhaul program for the agency’s 80 Neoplan diesel buses.
“We’re not going to get a better deal than now,” SFMTA CFO Sonali Bose told reporters. 2007′s Prop A allows the SFMTA to issue revenue bonds for “shovel ready” infrastructure upgrades and repairs, and the low interest rates on the bond market make it a once in a lifetime chance for the agency to get a good deal on rates. Out of the $170m the bonds will raise, the agency will buy down existing expensive debt, with the rest of the funds going to help pay for a rehabilitation project at Muni’s Green yard, replacing system radios, replacing the system’s 28 year old digital subway signs, upgrading the sea water damaged Embarcadero MMT, and upgrading rail infrastructure in the Sunset Tunnel (which will be in tandem with the Cole St rail upgrade).
The Board of Supervisors postponed until next week a vote on the controversial proposed charter amendment we wrote about yesterday.Â Board of Supervisors president David Chiu said me might be willing to put off the amendment until next year, depending on the outcome of discussions with Mayor Newsom’s office about Muni service.Â Postponing the amendment (or forgetting about it entirely) would be a positive development for Muni riders.
The law allows supervisors to place only one more charter amendment on the November 2010 ballot between now and Friday, July 30th.Â Let’s hope it isn’t this one.
We urge Muni riders to call their supervisors between now and next Tuesday’s meeting and urge them to shelve the SFMTA amendment indefinitely.Â All of their phone numbers and e-mail addresses are here.Â The SFMTA isn’t perfect, but we believe strongly this measure would move the agency and Muni service in exactly the wrong direction.
Today, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on whether to place a charter amendment on the November ballot dramatically changing how the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, is governed.Â We’re urging our members to contact their supervisors and urge them to vote against placing this measure on the ballot.
You can read the proposed text here.
This well-intentioned proposal moves Muni in the wrong direction in several important respects:
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Lost in all the election coverage last night was the 46%-54% defeat of Proposition C, a charter amendment splitting appointments to the Film Commission; six members would be appointed by the mayor and five by the Board of Supervisors. Currently all members are appointed by the mayor.
Proposition C had barely any opposition; the only argument filed against it was a screed by Republican Central Committee member and perennial ballot-argument-writer Terence Faulkner. Even the mayor’s staunchest allies on the board supported the measure.Â And yet this nearly-unopposed proposition went down to defeat by eight points last night.
The message couldn’t be clearer: San Franciscans aren’t interested in expanding the powers of the Board of Supervisors over city boards and commissions.Â While such measures have sometimes succeeded in he past, if a split-appointment measure, for a commission hardly anyone pays attention to, can’t win, it’s clear the public is no longer in mood for this sort of thing.
Recently, several supervisors proposed a charter amendment which not only splits appointments to the SFMTA Board, but expands the supervisors’ power over Muni in whole slew of ways beyond the split board.Â It should be obvious from last night’s election results that, if such a measure is placed on the November ballot, it’s dead on arrival with the electorate.Â Voters who won’t let the supes appoint a minority of commissioners on the barely-noticed Film Commission aren’t about to give them a whole Christmas tree of new powers over a high-profile agency with which San Franciscans interact almost every day.Â A doomed campaign to pass such an amendment would serve only as a prolonged distraction from the pursuit of real, viable solutions.
It’s time for the supervisors to read carefully the results from last night and shelve the Campos/Chiu/Avalos amendment.Â Voters already rejectedâ€”by a 29-point marginâ€”one effort in 2005 to split SFMTA Board appointments 4-3 between the mayor and supervisors respectively; the idea that they’ll approve a grossly overreaching, wide-ranging takeover of the agency by the supervisors is fantasy. Whatever the SFMTA’s problems, increased control by the Board of Supervisors is not among the solutions, and even if it were, the public clearly isn’t buying.
It’s time for supervisors and transit activists alike to stop this pointless tinkering with how the SFMTA Board is appointed and divert their time and energy to constructive solutions which put SFMTA on a sound financial footing to preserve and make reliable existing Muni service, and to grow the system into the one envisioned by the Transit Effectiveness Project.