Muni considering fiscal emergency

April 7, 2009 6:49:54 PM PDT
San Francisco's transit system is facing a massive multi-million dollar budget shortfall for the new fiscal year. That means, Muni is now beginning the difficult process of dealing with it, which could mean reduced service and higher fares. SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

The situation is so severe, that Muni is likely to declare a fiscal state of emergency. The last time that happened was in 2005, and things are much worse right now.

Muni is the Bay Area's busiest transit agency, serving 700,000 people a day.

Now it's facing the worst budget crisis in its history -- a $129 million hole largely due to a loss of state and city money. Everything is on the table to try to balance the books.

"Across the board when you took at the MTA there isn't a customer or citizen in this city that won't be impacted by some of the difficult choices were going to have to make," said Muni Executive Director Nathaniel Ford.

If you ride the bus, several lines with low ridership may be eliminated, like the 26 Valencia. Others will make less frequent runs. Adult fares could go up 50 cents and the same may be charged for transfers that are now free.

"I would mind paying more for anything now, but if I have to I will," said Muni rider Mia Renshaw.

If you drive in the city and park at a meter, Muni is recommending rates go up 50 cents an hour and meters that are now free on Sundays and at night would require money.

"I think anything we can do to discourage auto use is good. I think the price of gas should go up and go up for parking should go up," said Muni rider Jean Walsh.

Muni is also looking at eliminating 372 positions, cutting other workers' pay, and forcing workers to take an unpaid day every month.

The transit agency held a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon to present its smorgasbord of ideas which includes selling some taxi licenses known as medallions -- something this driver opposes.

"I think that will disrupt the whole industry and make it become all about who has the most money," said SF taxi driver Barry Korengold.

Muni's general manager says the decisions are so difficult the transit agency is likely to declare a fiscal emergency, which would allow it to bypass some state requirements and fast track the changes it makes.

"In good years, the future if the economy turns around we'll be in good position to add back service," said Ford.

A final decision on fare and services cuts and fare hikes is due on April 30th.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments