SFMTA discusses what to do with Muni surplus

At a hearing held by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency the public got to weigh in on what to do with their surplus.
February 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The agency that runs Muni has a surplus for the first time in recent memory. So, why are fare hikes being proposed? That's what lots of people who ride Muni buses and trains want to know, as they're looking at the possibility of one ride actually tripling in price.

On Tuesday at San Francisco City Hall the public had its first chance to weigh in on this. Not that many showed up to the meeting, given that they are discussing a possible fare hike. The public has one more chance since there is a second hearing at City Hall on March 4.

The Metropolitan Transportation Agency that runs Muni is facing a surplus and there are many different ways the public could benefit. At the hearing, the agency was asking the public where some of that extra money should go.

"We're really seeking feedback on what should be in a proposed budget," said Edward Reiskin, the SFMTA director of transportation.

One idea is to extend the free youth fare program to include 18 year olds. Right now the cutoff age is 17.

"It's been beautiful for youth to be able to have the opportunity to get a pass and not have to worry about going to school and how they are going to get to school," said one resident.

Another possibility is to allow seniors to ride free of cost. One resident said, "This is long overdue. You did it for the youth, the seniors are hurting terribly."

But even with the upcoming surplus, Muni admits it won't be enough to pay for all these programs. One way to pay for them is to triple the cost of the F-line street car which serves a lot of tourists.

"The F-line at this point is just an idea because there's a lot of tourism interest on this line that it might be something where we can implement a premium fare," said Paul Rose, the SFMTA spokesperson.

The current price is $2. It could go up to $6, just like the cable cars. But surplus or no surplus, a price hike on the other lines is also expected. A single ride fare would go up 25 cents. The transit agency says that's just based on inflation. Those who live on a fixed income oppose any kind of increase.

"Living in San Francisco is a real trial and I have no intention of moving out of San Francisco to solve the problem," said one elderly resident.

The board has a few months to decide which programs to support economically. A budget has to be in place by July 1.


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