SFMTA board to vote on proposed budget 

click to enlarge Muni
  • Ming VOng/The S.f. Examiner
  • The SFMTA’s proposed budget includes raising adult Muni fares from $2 to $2.25.
Raising Muni’s single-trip fare by a quarter, eliminating Sunday parking meter enforcement, and expanding the free rides for low-income youths to seniors and disabled people are among issues up for consideration as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board votes Tuesday on the agency’s two-year budget.

The vote comes at a politically sensitive time for the public-transit agency, as it is also hoping to persuade voters to pass revenue measures in November to help pay for capital needs such as new vehicles and road work.

Challenges facing Muni are no secret: Vehicle breakdowns, buses that inch along at an average speed of 8 miles per hour, a lackluster on-time performance.

“Not only are we one of the slowest fleets in the nation, we are one of the oldest fleets in the nation,” Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director of transportation, told a Board of Supervisors committee last week.

The agency — which transports about 700,000 riders daily, enforces 28,862 metered parking spaces and has installed 208 miles of bicycle routes — has a budget of $851.1 million for the current fiscal year. That is proposed to increase to $943.2 million next fiscal year and $962.6 million in the subsequent year.

Those most impacted by the quality of San Francisco’s public transit service are low-income residents, according to a recent agency survey of 22,000 riders.

One in four riders said they earn under $15,000 annually, and 60 percent are below the Bay Area’s median income level of $71,000. In the same survey, 52 percent rated Muni service as excellent or good.

Included in the proposed budget are transit fare hikes such as raising the adult fare of $2 to $2.25, or raising the monthly pass for Muni from $66 to $68. Transit fares comprise nearly 22 percent of the agency’s revenues.

The largest single revenue stream is parking fees and fines at 30 percent, or $284.8 million. Another issue up for debate is the possible elimination of parking meter enforcement on Sundays, which began in January 2013, at the request of Mayor Ed Lee.

The largest budget expense for the SFMTA is workers’ salaries and benefits at 62 percent, or $583.4 million. The agency has proposed to grow its workforce from the current 4,852 employees to 5,048.

In addition to the operating budget, the agency’s capital budget is proposed at $562.9 million next fiscal year. The Central Subway project will receive most of that money at $191.6 million, followed by fleet replacement at $168.3 million. The SFMTA is also proposing to spend $24.9 million on bicycle safety projects and $3.7 million on pedestrian safety measures.

Once the budget is approved by the transit agency board, the Board of Supervisors would review it sometime after May 1.

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