Muni passengers sound off at town hall meeting

February 6, 2010 6:02:52 PM PST
A proposed 100 percent fare hike has some Muni passengers seething.

It is really not an easy pill to swallow. Muni has a budget shortfall which they are blaming on the state. But, Muni riders do not care who is responsible. They just do not want to be the ones left holding the bag.

"My name is Herbert Weiner and I'm a Muni victim," Weiner said at a town hall meeting Saturday.

Muni riders are angry. They packed the meeting to voice their outrage over the money-saving measures Muni is proposing. Muni needs to bridge a $16.9 million budget shortfall. The Muni board is considering raising monthly passes from $15 to $30 for seniors, the disabled and youth, reducing service system wide and renegotiating Muni drivers' contracts.

A tentative agreement reached late Friday with the drivers union could make the cutbacks less severe.

"I'm standing down at Civic Center, getting off of BART, coming from the airport. It's 10:30 at night. I'm hoping that I'm not going to be the victim of a crime, but I have to stand outside and watch the bus driver do his exercises," a Muni rider named Mary said.

Many riders complained that they are already forced to accept an inefficient system and now, they are being asked to deal with even more.

"I don't know why you want to make money off of the backs of seniors and disabled people," Joanne Smith said to applause. "What you need to do is turn around and cut some of your big salaries that you're making."

"We're all so packed in like sardines through the West Portal Tunnel, so I don't know how you're going to get more of us on there," one woman said.

The most severe proposed cuts will be to the 108-Treasure Island and M-Ocean View lines, where service will be cut by 40 to 50 percent.

"There are 1,500 people living on the island and to propose transporting all of these people to work on three buses an hour in the morning seems very unwise," said Kathryn Hargrove.

Saturday's outcry even caused a Muni representative to react on the spot.

"We will absolutely go back and look at that route. But, I also want to add that we are evaluating currently the possibility of using a larger bus," responded Muni service manager Julie Kirschbaum.

All of the input from Saturday's meeting and another public meeting set for February 9 will be given to the Muni board to consider before they take their final vote on February 16.