Fewer buses in service part of MTA budget solution 

Fewer buses in service, increased prices for residential parking permits, higher cash fares on the F-Line, charges to use credit cards for purchasing transit passes online, and a raise to discounted transit fares are among some of the solutions the Municipal Transportation Agency has put forth to make up a $16.9 million deficit over the next five months.

The MTA, which operates Muni, will also seek labor concessions from its workers, eliminate its free parking perks for city employees and request a bigger cut of The City’s sales taxes that are designated for transportation usage.

Some of the cost-saving measures, such as the cash fare increase on the F-Line — which would raise prices from $2 to $5 — must be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors, but the MTA is hoping to have most of the proposals in place by March or April.

None of the measures has been finalized, but the biggest proposal is the reduction in bus lines, which would save the agency $28.5 million annually and $4.8 million this fiscal year if the changes are in place by May, which the MTA is proposing. No routes will be eliminated under the proposal.

The MTA hopes to get $10 million in annual savings from its labor concessions (and $700,000 this fiscal year), $800,000 by increasing the cost of residential parking permits from $76 to $96, and $200,000 by charging $5 for cash fares on the F-Line.

The department also hopes to receive $7 million in maintenance funding from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the county agency that oversees San Francisco’s Prop K allocations, which are sales taxes designated for transportation causes.

“There are no good options left as we face the most challenging financial environment in our history,” MTA director Nat Ford said.  “But we will continue to work to deliver the best service possible with our diminished resources.”

The proposals come just a few months after the cash-strapped agency, which has lost nearly $200 million in the past three years in state funding, announced that it would eliminate 250 positions, divert millions of capital funding into its operating budget, and limit employee benefits to help bite into a projected mid-year deficit of $45.1 million.

The MTA staff will present their latest cost-saving measures at the department’s Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.

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Will Reisman

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