Muni fare shakedown

SF Examiner photo by Melissa Barnes

Update: Just a day after the release of this article, advocacy group POWER announced that Google pledged to pay for Free Muni For Youth for two years. “This validates both the success and necessity of the Free Muni for Youth program,”said Bob Allen, leader in the FreeMuni for Youth coalition, in a press release. “We need tech companies in San Francisco and throughout the region to work with the community to support more community-driven solutions to the displacement crisis.” 

The funding though is promised only for two years, and when that timeframe is up the question will still remain -- will Muni's operating budget pay for something Mayor Ed Lee could find funding for elsewhere? Additionally, Google hasn't announced funding for free Muni for seniors or the disabled, another program up for consideration in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's new budget. That may change if and when it is approved by the SFMTA for the next budget year. 

"I think it’s a positive step in the right direction," Superivsor David Campos, the sponsor of Free Muni For Youth, told us. "But there are still questions about what it means in terms of the long term future of the program. It’s only a two year gift." 

"We have asked for a meeting with Google and the mayor’s office and the coalition to talk about long term plans, to find out more information about what this means." 

There's a tie that binds all Muni riders. From the well-heeled Marina dwellers who ride the 45 Union to Bayview denizens who board the T-Third Sunnydale line, we've all heard the same words broadcast during sleepy morning commutes.

"Please pay your fare share."

The play on words (also seen on Muni enforcement signage) would be cute if it didn't perfectly represent how Muni riders may now be stiffed. A slew of new budget ideas hit the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors last week (Feb. 18), and who will pay for it all is an open question.

The first blow to riders is a proposed single-ride fare hike from the current $2 to $2.25.

Other proposals include expanding the Free Muni for Youth program, rolling out a new program offering free Muni for seniors and the disabled, and a fare hike to $6 for the historic F streetcar.

The odorous price jumps (and costly but promising giveaways) are moving forward against a backdrop of a Muni surplus of $22 million, which the board has until April to decide how to use, and a controversial decision by Mayor Ed Lee to make a U-turn on charging for parking on Sundays.

The meter decision would deprive Muni of millions of dollars.

"We're not proposing anything here, just presenting what we can do," SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin told the SFMTA board at City Hall last week.

There's still time to change the SFMTA board's mind on the proposals between now and final approval of the budget in April. But who will end up paying for a better Muni?



In 2010, the SFMTA instituted a policy to raise Muni fares along with inflation and a number of other economic factors, essentially putting them on autopilot. The SFMTA board still has to approve the fee hikes, which may rise across the board.

fares One-time fares may jump to $2.25. Muni's monthly passes would see an increase by $2 next year and more the following year. The "M" monthly pass will be $70 and the "A" pass (which allows Muni riders to ride BART inside San Francisco) will be $81.

Muni needs the money, Reiskin said.


At best, give a discount to kids and seniors. When something is free, it is unappreciated, taken for granted and over-used.

I do not want to throw money at Muni because it is a failed enterprise and because I want to see staff cuts to pay and benefits before another dime.

I'm not sure about Sunday meters but i do believe that nobody should have to feed a meter outside their own home

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

You think no one should have free travel, but free parking is A-Ok? You may not agree with me, but at least my views are consistent. I think both should be free to the end user to the extent possible, and paid for by progressive taxation. Everyone pays what they can, and uses what they need. That's the way a civilized community pays for public goods and services.

BTW... I for one appreciate something MORE when it's free.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:22 am

Congested and commercial areas should have meters to ensure turnover. But not in residential areas - I should not have to pay to park outside my own home, except for a RPP.

And Muni's farebox recovery rate is absymal. I want to see that much higher and staff costs reduced to market levels.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 8:15 am

So I assume POP officers would be exempt from your staff cost reduction? Sustainable Streets should be too, if you want bike and traffic calming plans completed and implemented. Where would you cut, exactly? Drivers? Mechanics? Car cleaners?

Posted by Oliver on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

under-performing staff.

I would align their pay and benefits with private-sector levels which would free up millions of investment in the system

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

You are not the exclusive owner of your street even if you own your home. That space you use to park your car belongs to everyone. Everyone pays to maintain it. Why should you be allowed to store your privately-owned vehicle for free on a public street?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

parking can you understand why i might be annoyed if I suddenly have to start paying for that?

The streets are available for everyone to use but the parking channels on each side of the streets are assumed to be available to those most likely to want to use them i.e. those who live, work or do business there.

I already pay my share to use those streets.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

In fact, drivers like you do not actually pay their share: Registration fees/gas taxes/etc. only cover around a third of road building and maintenance fees. The rest come from taxes that ALL of us pay (property, income, etc.) whether or not we have a car.

Because most people "assume" that parking on your own street should be free doesn't mean that it's an equitable distribution. In effect, poorer folks who don't have cars are subsidizing your parking spaces. To be truly fair, those who can afford cars should actually be disporportionately subsidizing public transit, because communal transportation makes streets less congested for drivers.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:19 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:30 am

This is one of those things that both sides have reasonable arguments on. It's not a big Moral Right or Wrong issue, where basic human rights are at stake. I say, elect the MTA and see where their priorities lie. Something tells me that an MTA which is accountable to the people rather than just acting as cronies to the mayor, will have very different priorities. It's too bad that we have this unholy alliance between business conservatives who control the MTA and a few liberal special interests, while the vast majority of people are left out in the cold.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 11:01 am

essentially a technical one requiring specialist knowledge. Same reason we don't elect doctors or lawyers. You just want someone with the knowledge and experience. It's really not an ideological role at all - that comes from the Mayor.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 11:15 am

If you don't think the appointees to the MTA and every other government board and commission in SF isn't politically motivated, you're obviously not from around SF or California. Everything the government does or whoever the government appoints to a position is politically motivated, especially in a highly political town like SF.

Why do you think groups like SPUR and favored transportation groups get government access, while other groups don't? It's because their transportation and development interests ultimately promote higher rents, higher building densities, more landlord profits and bigger bank and financing fees. These are the main economic players politicians cares about. Their political appointees and advisers give politicians cover to promote public policies that benefit the wealthiest economic interests.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 11:49 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

A MUNI deficit also calls for higher taxes on drivers!!

BTW - don't new taxes and fee increases require 2/3 approval?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:01 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

BTW - don't new taxes and fee increases require 2/3 approval?
The California legislature changed the requirement for some local governments to raise taxes and fees. Some may require only 55% approval now. Let's see what kind of response your question gets.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

increases (they imposed them) - not the legislature. The legislature cannot change voter-approved initiatives (like Prop 13) without the approval of voters.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

Apparently it is our 'Civic Duty' to Pay for Other People's stuff.

1. Our property is taxed to pay for the education of other people’s children.
2. Our road taxes are used to build bike lanes for affluent hipsters
3. The city purchases $11,000 bikes and institutes a BIKE SHARE PROGRAM so that the city's TECH ELITE can commute to their jobs that pay them six figure salaries.
4. Supervisor Campos wants us to pay for OTHER PEOPLES CHILDREN to ride MUNI for FREE!

Now they want another bond measure to fix muni, like they were supposed to do with potholes, look how well that one turned out, the streets are worse than ever. The SFMTA feels it can fleece taxpayers whenever they like, but doing so will require the SFMTA to raise taxes and float more bonds to pay for their consultant driven projects. We are encouraging city motorists to STOP CONTRIBUTING to an anti-car Transit Agency that uses city motorists like an ATM machine.

Remember this the next time the city of San Francisco requests more bonds to improve your driving experience. VOTE NO! If you drive a car, VOTE NO on any more funds for Muni or the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA). Regardless of what they promise, the funds will be used against you to inflate parking prices, remove traffic lanes, slow traffic, and pay for other peoples children to ride MUNI for FREE!

The next time you elect a Mayor, or a City Supervisor VOTE NO if they start parroting 'transit first" as an excuse to bleed your wallet. If your city Supervisor wants you to give up the safety of your family car to ride a bicycle on busy city streets then VOTE THEM OUT!

Posted by sfparkripoff on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

Robert Reich wrote this great piece, I think it addresses your comment well ---

America has a serious “We” problem — as in “Why should we pay for them?”

The question is popping up all over the place. It underlies the debate over extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed and providing food stamps to the poor.

It’s found in the resistance of some young and healthy people to being required to buy health insurance in order to help pay for people with preexisting health problems.

It can be heard among the residents of upscale neighborhoods who don’t want their tax dollars going to the inhabitants of poorer neighborhoods nearby. ....

(continued at )

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

healthcare for the old, the sick and the disabled?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

Progressives get to create more entitlements and hire more make work government jobs then bemoan that no one wants to pay for them.

We are all in this boat together on the terms we entitled progressives set forth.

The "you are alive tax" is not "progressive," single payer is the way to go.

Posted by guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

I'm voting yes! You convinced me!

Posted by Oliver on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

Only boring straight white tech workers should have to pay to ride Muni.

Everyone else should ride for free.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

If businesses, including the tech sector, paid their "fair share" of taxes, and said taxes were deposited in a municipal bank, public transportation, education, and healthcare could be free for all residents of the greater Bay Area.

Posted by TrollKiller on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:11 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 10:29 am

No he wouldn't.
He'd still be a scary-cat, like his owner......

Posted by TrollKiller on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

He just used wit to demonstrate that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

What debate?
What "wit?"
What solution?

Posted by TrollKiller on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 8:37 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 9:11 am

But "we" didn't come up with any solutions, just more typical troll tactics of making smart-ass comments in order to seem smart, while not offering any constructive ideas. "Satire" and "rhetorical effectiveness?" Only in your own little bitty, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy mind.....

Posted by TrollKiller on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

1) Reduce muni staff pension and healthcare benefits to the private-sector standard

2) Pay operators the same salary scales as private bus operators

3) De-unionize

4) Remove rigid working practices

5) Privatize the unprofitable routes

6) Set a minimum farebox recovery rate at 50%

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

Privatization is the reason nothing works now, except for rich people. Tinkering with an antiquated, obsolescent, bloated bureaucracy will take years and accomplish nothing. It's well past time to create a new regional transit agency to plan a coordinated system that serves all of the people. Fire the SFMTA, whatever the hell that is. This system would be funded by those who benefit the most; the corporations who presently pollute the environment, exploit their workers, and pay little or no taxes.

Posted by TrollKiller on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

with some part of the government. They figure they can never be fired and all they have to do is sit and wait for their gold-plated pension.

Fire their asses.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

To "privatize" means to TAKE something that is owned by the public and GIVE it to a business.

And while I agree some unionized workers take advantage of their situation,
you would not want to be doing most of the work they are doing.

The problems we face in our society are not caused by workers, students, immigrants, minorities, marginalized communities, or children. They are the result of decades of retrograde thinking by the rich and "educated."

Posted by TrollKiller on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 8:39 am

private entity at a market price. The government gets cash and the business gets the asset, just like any other transaction.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 8:52 am

"The government" gets the money, and "the people" get screwed.

Feinstein (the government) sells postal service property to her husband (a business). Where does the money go? To pay for what was previously taxpayer-supported. A "fair share" tax on corporations would solve this problem immediamente.

The museums in this town used to be free; now they are $20-30.
The ability to see art, science, and culture was TAKEN from the public,
unless they are wealthy.

Posted by TrollKiller on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 9:25 am

It's been happening all over europe, Asia and Latin America.

The UK just privatized it's post office. The US hasn't done that, although given the dire finances of USPS, maybe we should

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 9:38 am

The wave of neoliberal colonialism unleashed by Reagan and Thatcher is responsible for most of the problems in the world.

Posted by TrollKiller on Mar. 01, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

a 2 dollar toll for all cars entering the city from any direction that is not currently charging a bridge toll. problem solved.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 11:30 am

behaviors to get around it. Not workable. And of course people would not vote on it.

We looked at a congestion charge and rejected it

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 11:52 am

Obviously, they should paying us to ride MUNI instead of the other way around. Ed Reiskin is after everyone: drivers, passengers, taxis and parking lots in order to raise more money for the budget deficit. Ofcourse, the same scenario will exist 10 years from now.
Neither motorists should pay on Sunday or we passengers pay that extra 25 cents for the miserable service that we have.
Instead of paying money for more buses and drivers, MTA has authorized Barbary Coast, a PR and lobbying firm, $1.5 million over the next three years to sell the Transit Effectiveness Project which cuts services to the neighborhoods and important parts of the city as hospitals and the courts.
Please note that, in addition to peddling the TEP, it also represents Bauer Intelligent Transportation, a technie bus company that transports Google workers to and from the city; Barbary Coast is trying to dismiss tickets for the technie buses' parking violations. A conflict of interest if there ever was one.
The Transit Effectiveness Project will take away buses and bus stops from the elderly, handicapped and severely ill, force people to walk a longer distance as their buses pass them by and will not guarantee improved service.
Note that bus stops have been discontinued for at least two decades with no service improvement.
No physician has reviewed or signed off on the Transit Effectiveness Project in respect to safety for the physically vulnerable; it has not addressed this population in its plan fully and completely, preferring to acknowledge the hardship on them in passing.
Don't endorse the proposed bond measure in November. It is simply MTA's way of balancing the books while they need to be balanced as an agency.

Posted by Guest Herbert Weiner on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 1:44 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

I'm all for good corporate citizenship and I'm not a techie, but:
It does feel like extortion by our elected officials. Why does this "donation" have to go to the SFMTA for some "pet program". SFMTA needs to spent their money on improved muni service - nothing else. On second thought, maybe it does make sense. Muni has failed, so it spends a ton of money promoting biking and walking so people won't notice. And it is the young techies that need all the bicycle infrastructure. Maybe this is just another one of SFMTA's backroom deals.

Great political moves by the Mayor and SFMTA. SFMTA gets their free muni give away program. It takes that heat off of the mayor's Sunday parking proposal that he using to get the huge muni bond approved by voters. Then SFMTA can waste even more of our money. No thanks. No more funding for this failed organization...unless google is extorted for more.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

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