Following a string of stressing reports about its poor performance record, the news of upcoming fare increases probably won't be greeted with warm smiles from Muni's passengers.
On July 1, the agency's monthly adult passes will increase by $2, with its Muni-only fare increasing from $64 to $66 and its Muni-plus-BART fare going from $74 to $76. The agency's senior, disabled and youth passes will increase from $22 to $23 and its Lifeline pass for low-income users will rise from $32 to $33. Single-ride cash fares will remain at $2.
The fare increases were approved in 2012 as part of Muni's two-year budget cycle. Based on annual inflation rates, the fare increases are projected to raise $3.5 million this year for the transit agency, which is dealing with a $70 million structural operating deficit. A similar $2 hike was enacted last July 1 as well.
Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, said the fare increases are strictly aimed at recovering costs for the agency. Any continuation of the inflation-based fare increase program would be subject to board approval.
“These programmed adjustments keep fare increases incremental and predictable,” Rose said.
With the top price increasing to $76 next month, Muni fares will have gone up by 69 percent since 2009, when a monthly pass including BART service cost just $45.
Mario Tanev, spokesman for the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, an advocacy organization, said no passengers like it when fares increase, but the regularly scheduled hikes based on inflation are a little easier to swallow.
“This isn't like 2009, when they unexpectedly increased the monthly fares by $10,” Tanev said. “Muni is already greatly underfunded, so denying these fare increases would only worsen that situation. It's unfortunate that the agency has to balance its budget on the backs of riders, but there aren't a whole lot of other options right now.”
The fare increase scheduled for July 1 comes at an awkward time for Muni. Last week, the transit agency released a bleak report on its light-rail vehicle fleet, which registered an on-time performance below 50 percent in May. The week prior, another equally damning report was released that showed Muni delays cost the local economy $50 million a year in lost productivity.
Muni passengers won't be the only residents hit with increased fees on July 1. Residential parking permits will increase from $104 a year to $109 a year. All parking violations are set to go up $3 as well.