More tough decisions for SFMTA 

Fewer bus stops, thousands of new parking meters and tracking Muni fare prices to inflation are some of the funding solutions the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is considering to help make up a projected $56.4 million shortfall for next fiscal year. 

The SFMTA’s board of directors floated several ideas at a meeting Tuesday that, in total, could generate $71.7 million in savings.

The expansion of parking meter enforcement is one option under consideration to generate revenue for the cash-strapped agency. Extending parking meter hours on weekdays — in some locations as late as midnight — would bring in $9 million a year (minus startup costs) and enforcing meters on Sundays would bring in $2.8 million. The addition of 1,000 new parking meters also was proposed.

Along with revenue-generating measures, the SFMTA has proposed reducing the amount it pays other city departments for services — work orders — by $6.5 million, a 10 percent cut.

The elimination of free transfers — the 90-minute window that occurs after a passenger pays for a $2 cash fare — also was discussed, but that pitch was met with resistance from the board and subsequently taken off the table. Five percent service reductions were mentioned — after last week’s decision to slash operating hours by 10 percent starting in May — but that proposal was widely derided by directors.

“Clearly, none of these decisions will be easy,” SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said at the meeting. “We’re in a position right now where we can only deliver the services we can afford.”

For long-term solutions, the SFMTA proposed four tax measures that could make it on the November ballot. One, an increase to The City’s vehicle licensing fee, would generate $33 million and is currently being pursued by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. A tax proposal that generated significant interest from the board was a 10 percent increase to The City’s commercial off-street parking levy, a move that would bring in an additional $20 million each year to the SFMTA. Both measures would likely need to be passed with a two-thirds majority from voters.

All the proposals are preliminary and must gain approval from directors. Tuesday was the first public hearing on the measures. The SFMTA must submit a balanced budget by May 1, at which time the Board of Supervisors has the opportunity to either wholly accept or reject the document.

On Friday, the SFMTA board approved the 10 percent reduction in service, along with increases to various fees, to help make up a $12.1 million shortfall for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Raising revenue

Ideas to generate money for The City’s cash-strapped transit agency:

Possible solution

Annual revenue

Charge 50 cents for transfers

$7.5 million

Eliminate transfer option

$20.4 million

Extend weekday parking meter hours

$9 million*

Enforce parking meter hours on Sundays

$2.8 million

Annual fare increase based on inflation

$3.5 million

Consolidate stops

$3 million

Reduce service by 5 percent

$7.2 million


* After initial startup costs

Source: SFMTA


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Will Reisman

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