SFMTA directors unhappy with proposed fare increases, cuts 

The proposal to cut Muni service, raise prices on certain routes, Fast Passes and neighborhood parking, and impose additional layoffs was met Tuesday with disdain from the public and the governing body that oversees The City’s transit agency.

The Municipal Transportation Agency — which oversees Muni, parking and taxis — unveiled 13 proposals that would generate cash as it faces a midyear shortfall of $16 million that must be reconciled by June 30. The revenue-generating proposals include a $3 bump in price to the $2 F-line, increasing the wait time for service on some lines by as much as 15 minutes, making passengers pay premium monthly rates for cable car and express service, and hiking the cost of neighborhood parking permits by $20.

On Tuesday, the seven-person body that regulates the SFMTA heard the proposals for the first time, and, echoing dissatisfaction from riders, several board members said they would not approve the set of proposals.

“I am going to oppose any increase to the F-line fare,” SFMTA Director Cameron Beach said at the meeting. “We abandoned a number of bus lines north of Market Street, basically making riders take the F-line, and now we want to charge them $5?”

Other revenue measures — such as a proposal to increase the cost of disabled and senior Fast Pass fares to $30, and implementing mandatory $70 Fast Passes for passengers who use the cable car and express lines — were met with scorn by the transit agency’s board.

“I refuse to vote on these measures until I believe that we have looked under every rock for every source of funding,” Director Bruce Oka said.

Oka and Beach raised the idea of revisiting a plan to extend The City’s parking meter hours. Last year, an SFMTA study revealed that the department would gain $9 million a year from increasing the hours on its parking meters, but the plan met resistance from the Mayor’s Office.

The 13 revenue-saving measures presented Tuesday followed a similar series of budget-balancing proposals unveiled in November that included the elimination of 53 employees by Friday. The board expressed reservations about the staff reductions, and as a result, the agency will delay laying off 24 parking control officers for another month, with the possibility that some sort of compromise can be made.

In the interim, several directors suggested that the transit agency investigate the possibility of reducing the amount of middle-management employees in the department.

On March 2, the board will vote on whether to authorize the SFMTA’s revenue ideas. The fare proposals must be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors.

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Will Reisman

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