Board approves Muni service cuts, fare hikes

April 30, 2009 6:46:55 PM PDT
Some tough budget cuts were made Thursday evening by San Francsico's public transit agency. If you live or work in the city, or even visit as a tourist, you will likely feel the impact of these cuts to Muni.

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The Muni board voted 6 to 1 in favor of passing the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. A couple of the directors made it clear that they were doing so reluctantly.

Get ready -- Muni fares will go up, service will go down. Change is in store for scores of bus lines. Some, like the 20-Columbus through North Beach, will be outright eliminated. Others will have part of their route discontinued or there will be less frequent runs.

"They should be encouraging us to ride buses, not making it impossible," said Muni rider Sandy Miller.

She will have to pay 50 cents more for an adult fare. The monthly fast pass, already set to go up $10 in July, will rise another $5 in January. And if you don't take the bus, but drive in the city, keep that roll of quarters handy. Meters are set to increase 50 cents an hour and will be in force two hours longer in the evening. But responding to public pressure, the board has apparently backed off plans to make motorists feed the meters on Sundays.

"I want free meters. I've put a lot of money in these meters. I'm working at a job right here so we've had to pay them for the last five days in a row, and while I'm paying them, they did ticket me twice," said commuter Michael Kernan.

Even this Muni driver spoke against the plan.

"Our operators will be more pressed with increased bus loads, angry passengers and schedules that would be more unrealistic to meet," said Muni driver Walter Scott.

Muni has a $129 million deficit. Critics say other city departments have helped put Muni in this situation by billing the transit agency $66 million for services such as traffic control.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu thinks that is outrageous and has introduced legislation to reject Muni's budget.

"No one wants to see their Muni bus cut, or see their services late, or have to pay more in their fares. I mean, we're talking about working class families, we're talking about immigrants, were talking about seniors," said Supervisor Chiu.

Supervisor Chiu does not own a car and rides Muni every day. His proposal comes up for a hearing next month. It would be the first time ever that the board would reject a Muni budget.

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