By Guest Writer
The City believes mass transit needs improving. That is why we recently passed a bond measure for $500 million, by 71.3% of the voters, to provide more funding for MUNI in our last election. Does anyone see an improvement of the “on time” performance of MUNI today from yesterday? With construction going on at a record pace and traffic often blocked with utility improvements, not to mention additional laborers, traffic is worse. One solution for better MUNI performance has been to limit or restrict service, creating hardships for the elderly, the disabled and the handicapped. Even eliminating bus stops to hospitals is considered an improvement in service, i.e. the 33 bus could discontinue its stop to San Francisco General sometime in the future. Usually, seniors and those with disabilities move to locations where mass transit provides services to health care service. Now, these same citizens will need to move again. Is this really the role of government, to hamper the needs of those less fortunate than we are?
The Private Taxi Congestion:
Uber, Sidecar and Lyft pretend to remove congestion in San Francisco, reducing the need for individuals to travel down town. Well, with 20,000 vehicles working for Uber alone on a daily basis, they are adding to traffic congestion, not solving it. In addition, Uber wishes to add an additional 120 vehicles to improve their service. Uber is the largest of these private taxi services but Sidecar and Lyft also contribute to congestion in San Francisco.
Private Buses a Boom or Bust to Neighborhoods:
Assembly Bill 61, which is presently on hold, would give legitimate approval for private buses to use public bus stops. Private buses for employees of Google, Apple and Salesforce are prime examples of those that would benefit from this law. At first glance, it would seem less people on the road would benefit the public, however, let’s look at this further. Studies have shown that those who rent beside private bus stops are finding their rent increase, allowing well paid tech workers to replace existing tenants. Those that own property, whether it be residential or business real estate, are finding their property value increasing by $100,000. Therefore, their property taxes are rising. If small businesses move, the diversity provided by “Mom and Pop” stores will diminish, as larger chain stores replace less profitable businesses.
A Fair Tax for Private Buses:
Heavy private buses, typically do not pay their fair share of cost for “wear and tear” on our streets. Minimal fees for private access to these public bus stops of $1 or $3.50 a visit, do not pay for the true cost of access. A flat fee of $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 a day would be more appropriate allowing the improvement of mass transit maintenance or the purchase of more vehicles to our existing fleet. Then too, any worthwhile City necessity, i.e. affordable or middle class housing subsidies could benefit from this tax. The City is missing an opportunity to tax wealthy companies fairly. We ask the City to look again at their mass transit policy, please.