Alternatives to ‘March Against Muni’
Photo by Flickr user noremmie
I’ve been thinking about a way to express my misgivings about March Against Muni, a self-described protest/boycott of Muni set to start next Monday. The march is billed as a way to protest a set of proposed service reductions and fare hikes. On its face, yes, fair enough — I hate service cuts and fare hikes too.
But the whole “don’t ride Muni” and “don’t buy a March Fast Pass” slant seems wrong-headed. As Robert Cruickshank points out in his post at Calitics, the problems for SFMTA began when the state cut off all transit funding (in the last three years, SFMTA has lost $179 million it would’ve received from the state, owing to what was simply reduced funding at first, and then, this fiscal year, the total elimination of transit monies.) Taking that fact into consideration, the picture comes into better focus. It should be clear to most people that lack of funding, almost more than any other factor, got MTA to the sucky situation it’s in now.
- Yes, it sucks that we may see more and wider service cuts.
Yes, it sucks that Fast Pass prices could increase for some of the most vulnerable among us.
Yes, it sucks that drivers are sometimes rude, pass up stops, and ask riders to get them dinner.
But while most of the “demands” of March Against Muni‘s organizers are valid, none of the demands addresses the real problem: how to bring more money into the system to replace what was taken away by Arnold and friends.
Look, I hate that Nathaniel Ford (or whoever happened to have the job) makes so much money, but the job of director is a nationally competitive one. And to his credit, Ford took a pay cut. I hate that drivers make way more money than I do, too. But like the director, that job is nationally competitive. (Another fact: Unlike Nathaniel Ford, Muni employees, through their union, voted down a package of budget-deficit-reducing concessions just last week.)
I cannot see what a boycott and march will achieve. Our time would be better spent helping to think of creative actual solutions. I don’t have the answers myself, but I think you can do something that’s more useful than holding a sign at the cable car turnaround, such as:
– Educate yourself about what can be done to save Muni; start with this StreetsblogSF story.
– Go to this Friday’s MTA board meeting where the board will be voting on the service cuts and fare hikes (9 a.m. in room 400, City Hall). You can sound off during the public comments section.
– Go old media and write a letter to the editor.
– Email the governor yourself.
It’s true that nobody has a silver bullet, but I do think that those of us who ride Muni every day are quite capable of at least trying … instead of sticking it to Muni. Kinda, you know, like Arnold did.