SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Protesters halted traffic Thursday at the intersection of Octavia St. and Market St. right by the Highway 101 on and off ramp in San Francisco. They demanded Gov. Newsom to allocate $5 billion in the state budget to fund public transit.
"We are not asking, we are demanding," said Brett Vertocci, the protest organizer. "We rely on public transit for many important needs."
Agencies, such as BART and Muni, say they may have to heavily cut service once the federal pandemic relief money runs out. Ridership for those agencies has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Lawmakers have proposed Governor Gavin Newsom allocate $5 billion, and the budget deadline arrives next week. Gov. Newsom has claimed recently there just isn't enough money to go around.
Protesters blocked off the popular intersection to show how bad traffic will get if service is reduced.
"We need the state to step up so that we don't have to cancel bus lines, so we don't lose Bart weekend service," Vertocci said. "Also so we don't create huge traffic jams in these intersections."
Some lawmakers are hesitant to allocate that amount of money.
"If there is funding for transit that doesn't include traditional oversight, then I will not support it," said Senator Steve Glazer from Contra Costa County.
Sen. Glazer was formally a member of the BART support committee. He, along with the former BART Inspector General, highlighted numerous incidents of potential fraud and overspending by BART. He understands the need for more funding, but he doesn't want that much money wasted.
"Our transit system is very important to the Bay Area, and I am supportive of reinvestment and help of that space," he said. "But I don't want to see money thrown at an agency unless they have the reforms and accountability that should go a long with it."
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