Recap: MTA Town Hall Meetings

Muni Buses For Scrap
Photo by Whole Wheat Toast

Last Saturday and this last Tuesday, SFMTA held “town hall” meetings to inform the public of upcoming proposed service cuts and fare hikes, as well as to offer the public a chance to give MTA feedback on the cuts and hikes. Here’s a recap of the meetings from the vantage of everyday transit riders who attended:

At Saturday’s meeting:

Julianne Nigro, 22, worried that her commute from Treasure Island, where she works at the nonprofit drug treatment center Walden House, to her home in Potrero Hill would take hours. (Via The Examiner‘s report on the meeting)

and:

Howard Woo, 79, pointed out that while the price of his Muni Fast Pass increases, his social security benefits stay the same.
“Does the director of Muni ever take Muni himself?” Woo asked. “Do they know what we need as a rider? I don’t think so.”

Julie Michelle (of Caliber SF and I Live Here:SF) wrote a great account of Tuesday’s town hall meeting on her personal blog, JulieLivesHere:

The room was filled, all chairs filled and then the overflow standing against the walls. Elderly people, people in wheelchairs, people coming to this meeting after a full day at work, regular people. There was a short presentation by Judson True and his colleague Julie Kirschbaum. I did not envy them standing up there, explaining the requisite pie charts and bar graphs and telling the people in the room who both love and depend on Muni how difficult these changes would be, and how much the people at Muni were between a rock and a hard place. People shifted in their seats. Some grumbled and some shush-ed each other.

and:

Some people had suggestions. Good ideas. Get businesses that use the city’s infrastructure to help support Muni. Use buses with back doors that only let people out, not in, to squelch the fare evaders. Fix the broken fare boxes so drivers can collect fares.

And then the tenor shifted: Salaries. They’re too high. Muni management gets paid too much money. Where is Nate Ford?!

and:

One man spoke up: All of us need to come together. The seniors, the disabled, the youth, the commuters, the Muni drivers… protest together against the city, against the bad management at the top who doesn’t care. I wondered what it would take to make that happen. A scapegoat or a symbol is needed. I’m not sure if we can collectively assemble in force to make our voices matter. We would need a Marie Antionette of Muni, laughing from a balcony and waving expensive Muni fast passes at the rabble below. I’m not even sure that Nate Ford is that person.

Muni Diaries is doing our best to get the word out: Changes are coming, and they ain’t pretty: Runs are being eliminated on almost every line. And yes, as of now at least, youth, senior, and disabled Fast Pass fares will go up dramatically.

On the upside, MTA seems dedicated to reaching out to the public to talk about these complicated changes: Holding these meetings at times that made them more accessible to the public and giving the public an opportunity to give feedback are both good signs.

But MTA simply must close its $16.9 million deficit, and that will require tough choices. Changes are going to be painful no matter what. For people who depend on public transit every day to get to work and everywhere else they need to be, here’s hoping that we aren’t the only ones bearing the brunt of these changes.

post-script: Just as this post was about to publish, we came across this thoughtful-as-hell post, from Streetsblog SF: What Can Be Done to Fix Muni? And Rescue Muni reminds us that the next MTA board meeting (open to public comment) is next Tuesday in Room 400 at City Hall.

7 comments

  • SFSU/CSU and Institutions that are mandating growth such as their “enrollment” increase, and effects on neighborhoods and transit, should be REQUIRED to negotiate and renegotiate transit MOU’s such as the one crafted for the SFSU Masterplan, which TOTALLY ignored the increases in use, effects of their masterplan, enrollment growth, and reliance on muni’s infrastructure for students to get from down-town to SFSU/Parkmerced. This MOU has NOT been discussed to date. But the CITY of MARINA vs. CSU legal suit pushed for “FAIR-SHARE” contributions of INSTITUTIONS like the CSU who use the systems and infrastructure however are not taxed, or required to support the systems maintenance and advancement in terms of development.

  • Parkmerced’s Proposed changes are of course post MUNI stepping back and leaving us high and dry in the western section district 7. The 19th Ave. Corridor Study does not accurately take into account future growth, and the proposal to place 3 station stops in a .18 mile radius is NOT transit first policy to connect to regional transit systems like Bart, or future line development like the old St.Francis line, or one that would reduce auto use by routing out along brotherhood way, or lake merced, sunset blvd. to eliminate auto use as the primary transit in the “outsidelands” of SF. There is still NO planned significant mass-transit North to South on 19th ave. planned to date. Yet the 1952 interchange at brotherhood way, and Level Title5 transit dollars could easily be applied to route development, housing, office space, and new development along 19th ave, by addressing cumalative growth, tunneling, bridge work, and the creation of new development land and air-rights along 19th to daly city. Future planning and creative solutions are needed, not cuts…

  • This is so frustrating and unreal. Thanks for the recap.

  • Daishin

    Well if MUNI raises the fast pass fees, then I’ll just pay as I go on the system. It will be cheaper for me to use my car and/or pay the regular fare on a limited basis.

  • JL

    Isn’t the Marie Antoinette the insane contract that automatically sets Muni employees’ salaries among the highest in the nation, with no work performance incentives? I’m all for workers being treated well, but the current system just isn’t working.

    I don’t think it’s fair to go after drivers for everything they’ve got (I do own a car, no I’m not rich, I use Muni everyday to commute or travel within SF, and mostly use the car to visit family outside of the city), but Sunday meter hours are worth supporting. But SF also needs to get serious about cuts at the top for all city jobs. We definitely make sure the drivers, cleaning crews, etc. have a living wage (and an SF living wage at that), but we also need to start asking why we have nearly 9000 city employees (as of 2008) raking in six-digit salaries when our transportation is a mess.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/01/09/sfpay2008.DTL

  • hobokins

    The fare hikes are just getting ridiculous. Paying $75 for what was recently $45 but with no improvements?!! My eyes’ RX are both over -6.00 without corrective eye wear so I’m considering asking my doctor to diagnose me as legally blind so I can get the disabled discount.

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