Muni fare hike, cuts appear inevitable

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Despite efforts to avoid higher fares and service cuts to the disabled, elderly and youth, those options remain part of two separate proposals in a budget-balancing package that will be voted on Friday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Although met with heavy criticism, the SFMTA faces a $16.9 million deficit in its $765 million budget and is set to push forward with plans to double the current cost of discounted Fast Passes from $15 to $30, and reduce transit service by 10 percent, which will lead to longer waits for more-crowded vehicles. Combined, those measures will help trim $5.8 million off the deficit, which must be reconciled by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

If approved by the SFMTA board of directors Friday, the service reductions will go into place by May 1, and the fare increases will take effect April 1. The special board meeting, which also is a public hearing, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at City Hall.

The Board of Supervisors will have a month to review the SFMTA’s amended budget, and supervisors can reject some line-item measures, including fare increase proposals.

The transit agency hoped to avoid the Fast Pass fare increase and lessen the impact of the service reductions, but labor negotiations that would have saved $14.9 million during the next two years were turned down by the Transit Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents 2,500 Muni operators.

Union President Irwin Lum said the organization would ideally be open to re-engaging in talks with SFMTA management, but its members are wary of a ballot measure backed by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd that calls for changes to the union’s work rules.

Under the union’s current contract, members are due to receive $8 million in raises next fiscal year. Elsbernd is attempting to collect about 50,000 signatures to get the union reform proposal on the November ballot.

Judson True, spokesman for the SFMTA, said measures like the fare increase and service reductions could always be “scaled back” if union members agree to contract concessions.

Other components of the budget-balancing measures include increases to residential parking permits, elimination of free employee parking at garages, new transaction fees for credit card users and a request for $7 million from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which collects The City’s transportation tax.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Budget problems

$16.9M Current SFMTA deficit through June 30
$4.8M Money saved from proposed service reductions
$1M Money generated from proposed Fast Pass increase

Source: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

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