Angry riders voice opinions on Muni cuts

February 26, 2010 6:26:51 PM PST
Angry Muni riders gave the Metropolitan Transportation Agency an earful Friday over proposed fare increases and service cuts. The final decision was bad news for riders, drivers, and administrators, but there was slightly better news for those who need Muni the most.

By any standard, this was a less-than-ideal day to wait for a bus in San Francisco; not in the cold and the wet with the No. 49 running late and Boom King's ride to City College taking longer than it ever used to.

"Since the budget cuts Dec. 5 it's been a real nightmare on the bus," King said.

Nor is that nightmare likely to improve after the MTA made even more cuts Friday in a hearing at City Hall.

"The only thing we really have left is overall service cuts, as far as I am concerned," Tom Nolan with the MTA said. "And that is the last thing I ever wanted to do."

But to meet a $12 million fiscal deficit, the board approved them, and raised rates on some passes and essentially went ahead with 230 layoffs to Muni drivers and administrators. Some routes will see less frequent service, or service ending sooner. Riders were not happy.

"I was in Korea, I've been in Tokyo, I was in Seoul, I've been all over the place. They have their trains running 24 hours a day," said a rider who gave her public comment at the hearing. "This is a great city. Let's live up to the opportunity here people."

"We all took an oath of office to balance the budget here and make sure this agency keeps working, and it's getting tougher and tougher," Nolan said.

The board did show some compassion, however. It set aside a plan to raise monthly fares by 50 cents a day for the young, the old, and the disabled, which had triggered more than a little passionate protest.

"You know, money's not flying out of the moon. There are people who can't pay for food, people who can't pay for anything, and you're trapping them," said another rider.

But Muni's budget problems are not even close to being over. If they cut $12 million today, imagine the cuts for next year of $50 million, and the year after that another $50 million.