San Francisco considering surcharge for major events

May 22, 2013 12:54:39 PM PDT
A San Francisco supervisor Tuesday asked for a study of a proposal that would add a small surcharge to tickets for large-scale sports and entertainment events to help fund the city's public transit system.

Supervisor Scott Wiener asked for the city controller's office to assess the economic impact of a fee between $1 and $3 that would go toward maintaining the San Francisco Municipal Railway system.

"Sporting events, concerts and live performances are part of San Francisco's economic and cultural vitality and we want to make sure that we're fully supporting these events with robust and reliable public transportation," Wiener said.

The fee would apply to San Francisco Giants games, events at the proposed waterfront arena, as well as large outdoor festivals like Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park and the music festival on Treasure Island, according to Wiener.

He said the revenue from the surcharge, which would be added onto the regular price of tickets, could create up to $22 million annually for Muni's coffers, which could be used to pay for four new light-rail vehicles per year or rehabilitate up to 18 vehicles already in the system.

Wiener said the Muni Metro subway system in particular is already "often completely overwhelmed and effectively defunct" during a large event, a situation that would only deteriorate if a new waterfront arena is approved and built in the next few years.

"Muni and particularly the subway is at a breaking point right now," he said. "That breaking point is going to get worse and if we don't begin planning now for how we are going to fund and grow and ensure the system, then we are going to be in a world of hurt."

Once the city controller returns with an assessment of the proposal, Wiener said he plans to go to various stakeholders to discuss how to implement such a surcharge.

Mayor Ed Lee said he would consider the proposal as well as any others that help to reduce traffic in the city and encourage people to take public transportation.

"I'm not opposed to any ideas that would help to decrease congestion, but I'm always concerned that if we don't incentivize things, we just tack on more costs to people," Lee said.


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