A Transit Riders' Association for San Francisco
P.O. Box 190966
San Francisco, CA 94119-0966

Hotline: (415) 273-1558
board at rescuemuni.org

Andrew Sullivan
Chair, Steering Committee / Chief Spokesperson
(415) 673-0626
>[email protected]

Daniel Murphy
Vice-Chair, Steering Committee
(415) 665-4074
[email protected]

Rescue Muni, SFBC: No "Big Dig" for San Francisco

Rescue Muni, San Francisco's transit riders' association, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) oppose any plan to build underground freeways or tollways through the city. The organization urges that scarce transportation dollars instead be spent on improving public transit service in and around San Francisco. They compared the project to Bostonís Central Artery/Tunnel Project, also known as the "Big Dig," which is many years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

"San Francisco is always a little behind the times, but this is ridiculous," said Andrew Sullivan, chair of the 500-member organization. "Boston just fired the director of the Big Dig because it's so far over budget. Why would we repeat a $12 billion mistake - after San Franciscans have voted repeatedly to make transit a priority?"

The organization expressed skepticism that toll revenue would pay for the tunnels. "Private toll roads have had major financial problems - in Virginia, Orange County, and Mexico," said vice-chair Daniel Murphy. "Will taxpayers be on the hook if the tunnels aren't built on time, or they don't make money? That is an unacceptable risk we're not willing to take."

"Instead of digging new underground roadways that will only facilitate more traffic and congestion, the city should be figuring out how to promote safer, more efficient movement on the roads we've already got," said Leah Shahum, Program Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC). "That means improving Muni service and encouraging bicycling and walking."

Rescue Muni leaders noted that funding for worthy transit projects such as Geary Light Rail and Caltrain Downtown Extension would be jeopardized by any new freeway project. In addition, they noted that low-cost solutions, such as express bus networks and transit priority corridors, would solve traffic problems much more easily than would freeways, by giving auto drivers real alternatives to sitting in traffic. "There's plenty of room on the surface to move people, but we use this space very poorly," said Murphy. "This won't solve the root problems, which have much simpler and cheaper solutions."

"If San Francisco really wants to burn billions of dollars, we might as well get something useful for it," said Sullivan. "Why repeat the Freeway Revolt? Let's focus on what works, which is better public transit for San Francisco and the region."

Rescue Muni is a transit ridersí organization for customers of Muni. It was founded in 1996 by Muni riders seeking to improve the systemís reliability, service, and safety, and currently has about 550 members and continues to grow rapidly. Rescue Muni co-sponsored November 1999ís Proposition E after circulating their own charter amendment earlier that year and participating in City Hall negotiations. Additionally, Rescue Muni sponsors an annual ridersí survey measuring the systemís reliability and performance.

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Posted 4/18/00.