Muni rate hikes and cuts to go on

May 12, 2009 7:36:53 PM PDT
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided against blocking the Muni budget. Fare hikes and route cuts will be in effect beginning July 1st, so that Muni can deal with a $129 million budget deficit.

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Muni's plan to close a $129 million budget deficit includes fare increases and eliminating some routes. But seven supervisors are poised to block those changes if they can get one more vote.

"There is a lot of parts of it that we feel balance the budget off the backs of Muni riders, and many of the lowest income residents of the city and doesn't promote more transit first policy that we want to see in the city," said San Francisco supervisor Eric Mar.

Beginning July first, the adult single-ride cash fare would increase 50 cents, from $1.50 to $2.

Discount fares for the disabled, youth and elderly would increase 25 cents from 50 to 75 cents a ride.

The controversial budget also includes the elimination of eight Muni lines.

Mar says the Muni budget could get $20 million back if it didn't have to pay for the city's 311 service.

"We hope they bring back a budget that's more in line with protecting public transit, so without raising fees and eliminating services, but trying to get more of the money back from the 311 department that charges $2 per call," said Mar.

"Everyone judges me on what goes right or wrong," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The mayor is threatening cuts to other city services if the Muni fare increases and route eliminations are blocked by supervisors.

"If it's rejected, we have to find $30.3 million minimum in new cuts. And we will have a devastating impact on public service and health and human services. It's about as easy as that," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Muni rider Robert Fujii isn't worried about the fare increase so much as the route cuts.

"Cutting the lines will be difficult because I use it so much, and I talk to people that they depend on it," said Fujii.

"Do you have a car?" asked ABC7's Heather Ishimaru.

"I used to, but gave it up," said Fujii.

No matter what happens, many routes will have reduced service.

"The 35 Eureka that I take in the morning, that is going to be reduced," said Muni rider Robert Mays.

The Muni budget, complete with fare increases and route cuts intact, will go forward as planned beginning July 1st.

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