Ballot Debates Sponsored by Save Muni

SaveMUNI will meet on Monday, August 15 at 5:30 (via Zoom, link below).  Join us for the first, and perhaps the o0nly, debate about the re-authorization of the 1/2 cent sales tax for transportation that will be on San Francisco;’s November ballot.  Zack Deutsch-Gross from SF Transit Riders will be supporting the measure and Larry Marso, attorney and economist, will be opposing.  Bring your questions.

We will also be considering taking action on Supervisor Connie Chan’s resolution to urge the MTA Board of Directors to remove third party dispatch from its taxi upfront fare pilot program.

Please feel free to share this invitation with your friends and neighbors.

Bob Feinbaum, President, SaveMUNI

Meeting Links:

Via Computer:

One tap mobile +12133388477,,6377599629#,,,,,,0#,,1234#

By Phone: +1 213 338 8477 

Meeting ID: 637 7599629   

Passcode: 1234 

Transit First Policy – Driving is a Bad Thing.

You have to go back to the foundation – namely, the foundation for San Francisco’s “transit first” policy, that driving is a bad thing… always

Transit is “good,” therefore, the City should be doing everything it can to get people to shift from driving to transit.

The problem is, of course, is that it impossible to make transit work much better for the vast majority of trips, so, for transit to be more competitive (actually, somewhat less non-competitive) with driving, the only option (other than throwing ever-more incredible amounts of money at transit with both hands) is to make driving worse.

This has two major factors, cost and time – and, time IS a cost.  For cost, increase the price of gasoline, mainly through higher taxes, but also by requiring every-“cleaner” fuels; high prices for parking, tolls, VMT charges replacing (or on top of) cents/gallon, etc.  As to time, make sure that you never, never, never add any road capacity – in fact, take it away – reduce speed limits, advocate “complete streets” (which, by design, are much slower), and reducing parking, which will force longer walks.

There is pretty solid consensus that there are two things that could work – and HAVE worked – to reduce travel time and traffic congestion, and, interestingly enough, they can actually be used in a complementary manner, rather than either/or.  One is various types of congestion charges and the other is really pushing remote work/education/shopping/social/etc.  MTC is pushing hard on Express Lanes, which is a logical step towards total vehicle-miles traveled/congestion charging for all roads/all lanes, which I generally support, but, from long experience, I am VERY scared at how MTC and the other players could screw this up.  I will give MTC staff credit, they worked very hard to put in a major requirement for remote work and were about to get the Commission to approve it – until two major power players got together to get the big city mayors to veto it.  One anti- group was the big developers, because, it half the people who are now in offices don’t do that any more, the need for new huge buildings is going to take a hit.  The other was the Bay Area transit agencies, who argued that the loss of riders would do them great harm.

Think about that last one – NOT do harm to people who need to make connections, who would sign on from home rather than drive or take a bus, train, or ferry, just stay at home.  No hour or two a day in travel, no payment to do that travel, obviously reduce GHG and other emissions quite a bit, but harm to the transit agency.  They’d have to lay off people, get rid of vehicles – my heavens, that could even lead to lower taxes!!!

(No, that would never happen, of course.)

Tom Rubin

Letter from Supervisor Mar to SFMTA

Mar objects to the plans SFMTA has to stop the L-Taraval Line at West Portal forcing riders to get off and switch to a bus line to access downtown. Mar writes:

“We’ve been negotiating with SFMTA in good faith for months to preserve full-route service for the L-Taraval. They have made no effort to meet what I feel is a reasonable request, and intend to move forward with their plan to end L-Taraval bus service at West Portal, beginning tomorrow, requiring all riders to disembark and transfer to make an ordinary downtown trip. I believe this plan is inequitable, and the process leading to it potentially unlawful, and yesterday I sent the attached letter to SFMTA leadership again requesting they change course.”

Read the letter : 22-07-07 Mar Letter to Tumlin

San Francisco Bay Ferry To Cut Fares Up To 20 Percent

By John : sfnews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Bay Ferry is considering lowering their prices and adding new routes to its services as a way to develop business. The change is being considered for at least a year with new off-peak trips being added. Fare reductions range from 7 percent to 20 percent off of current fares. 

On Sunday, March 7, the Ferry’s Executive Director, Seamus Murphy, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We don’t want to sit back and hope and wait for riders to return.”...(more)

Ever wonder who runs San Francisco Bay Ferry service. We did, so we looked it up. We also wondered what the current rates are so we could figure out how the 7-20% cuts might look. It looks like that depends. If they cut the rates, you may want to look into it.
WETA flag closeup

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) is a regional public transit agency tasked with operating and expanding ferry service on the San Francisco Bay and with coordinating the water transit response to regional emergencies. Under the San Francisco Bay Ferry brand, WETA carries over three million passengers annually utilizing a fleet of 15 high speed passenger-only ferry vessels. San Francisco Bay Ferry currently serves the cities of Alameda, Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, South San Francisco and Vallejo.

Life without Muni presents hardships for seniors and disabled residents

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

…San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency cut the 31-Balboa in April, along with Muni rail and all but 17 bus routes, in order to manage its budget crisis and balance limited operator availability with declining ridership demand.

The resulting Core Service Plan concentrated limited resources on transit-dependent residents while prioritizing access to life-giving and life-saving destinations like food and hospitals for The City’s neediest, including older adults and the disabled, according to spokesperson Erica Kato…(more)

Here is an idea, instead of pushing a sales tax to keep the Caltrain afloat, the city could cut their spending on non-Muni projects and concentrate on designing a Muni system that works for he people who need it. Let the train, bike lanes and traffic control go for a while and take care of the Muni.

The Bay Area’s Transit Dilemma: Too Many Agencies, Not Enough Riders

By Laura Bliss, Citylab : Bloomberg – excerpt

With budget gaps fraying a large and fragmented public transportation system, transit voices in San Francisco and Oakland push for a single regional operator.

As public transit agencies across the U.S. grapple with budget holes, safety concerns, and ongoing economic uncertainty, a number of policymakers, advocates and officials in the San Francisco Bay Area are calling for the region’s numerous and disjointed systems to join together for better interoperability. Bus and rail operators must coordinate pandemic response plans and reduce barriers to access, or riders will suffer, they say… (more)


Golden Gate Bridge District Receives $30.2M Grant from CARES Act

By Bay City News : nbcbayarea – excerpt

The funding will support the district’s transit and ferry services during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a $30.2 million grant for the Golden Gate Bridge, Transportation District, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Friday.

The funding will support the district’s transit and ferry services during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The grant is part of roughly $25 billion in CARES Act grants allocated to public transit agencies across the country.

“This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who continue to depend on them,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said…(more)

30 million dollars to support a few months work of ferry service that is running limited service? “Until further notice, Golden Gate Ferry will operate reduced weekday services and NO weekend services.” There is not much traffic on the bridge these days. How much does it cost to operate this service each month?

SFMTA Essential Trip Card


The SFMTA COVID-19 page has the latest service and citation information.

Muni is making necessary service reductions during the order to shelter-in-place. We know that for many people with disabilities and seniors, walking farther to an alternate bus — or paying for other transportation — isn’t possible. To serve this need, the SFMTA is announcing the Essential Trip Card (ETC) – a discount program to help seniors and people with disabilities make essential trips in taxis during this crisis.

The ETC will subsidize about two to three round trips by taxi per month for older adults (persons 65 and older) and people with disabilities. Eligible participants will pay 20% of the cost of a regular cab ride fare for essential trips.  The program uses taxis to take people on essential trips like going to the grocery store, pharmacy or another necessary medical trip during the shelter-in-place period. Customers who pay $12 will receive $60 value for taxi trips on a debit card.

We ask riders to do their part by wearing a face covering as required, except when allowed by the April 17th Health Order, making only essential trips, washing their hands thoroughly or using hand sanitizer before and after taxi trips, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or elbow and not touching their faces. We also encourage riders to clean their debit card, child seat, or any items that the driver or anyone else may help to carry or load with a sanitizing cleaner, before and after your trip… (more)


Trouble-plagued Transbay Center votes to extend, augment contract for longtime program manager

By : misisonlocal – exxcerpt

The $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center has long been envisioned as the Grand Central Station of the west — but is presently referred to derisively as San Francisco’s billion-dollar bus stop after structural problems shut it down shortly after its 2018 opening. This morning, its board voted to extend and increase the contract for its longtime program manager, URS Corporation.

By a 6-1 vote of the Transbay Joint Power Authority Board of Directors, with only Matt Haney dissenting, the board picked up an option to extend URS’ present agreement through June of 2024, and to increase its budget by $14.6 million to a max of $50.6 million.

“They’ve been working on this project for a while, and some things have not gone well,” Haney noted prior to the vote… (more)

That is an understatement. The SF Board of Supervisors is sticking to a plan to do something about the failed transit system that is misspending tax-payer dollars and the Trans Bay Terminal is a poster child for that. No surprise that the district supervisor would not support a business as usual model in his district.

Supes send message to transit agency board by ousting director

By Jerrold Chinn : sfbayca – excerpt

Supervisors say they are sending a message to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors by ousting Director Cristina Rubke.

The board voted 6-5 Tuesday against Rubke’s reappointment — Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Sandra Fewer, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton and Aaron Peskin voted in dissent…

Peskin, who plans to introduce a charter amendment next week that would restrict the SFMTA board authority, said:

“The only check and balance that we have really comes through the nomination and confirmation process and I think that sending a message not only to the MTA commission… but to other commissions, that when the duly elected Board of Supervisors comes up with a policy urgence, that policy urgence really must be heeded.”…(more)