As we began exploring options to position the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for the next two years, our aim has been to deliver a responsible and honest budget that is aligned with The City’s transit-first policy and the agency’s new strategic goals.
Today, the budget I present to the SFMTA’s board of directors is meant to reverse an unfortunate trend that has adversely affected Muni’s service reliability. For far too long, Muni’s maintenance operation has been understaffed and underfunded, and that needs to change in order to improve our customers’ experiences on the system. At the same time, we need to budget for our system’s future by ensuring funding for key Transit Effectiveness Project initiatives and other means to speed the system, such as all-door boarding.
During these tough economic times, I had to make difficult, but necessary, decisions to put us on the right track. I started looking for solutions within the agency by implementing administrative efficiencies, including:
However, reducing expenditures could only get us so far in building a responsible budget. We therefore needed to look at revenuesolutions.
We reached out to our customers, merchants, unions, employees, residents and advocates to help identify specific revenue options. What we heard, loud and clear, was that there was no appetite to reduce transit service or increase fares.
The proposals before the board are fair and make sense for San Francisco. They support an implementation of all-door boarding by July 1, provide additional safety and traffic personnel, and move forward with free Muni for low-income youths.
The revenue options I propose to the board include:
Modernizing antiquated parking policies and expanding current parking management: Unregulated parking on Sunday harkens back to policies established in the 1950s, when most businesses were closed and parking availability was never a factor. Today, roughly three-quarters of The City’s businesses are open Sundays and parking can be extremely hard to find. I am proposing enforcement of parking meters on Sunday between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. We also propose to add more than 500 meters to our existing 29,000 meters throughout The City to improve parking efficiency and reduce congestion caused by circling vehicles in some of the most parking-challenged neighborhoods.
Offsetting state citation fees: We are proposing to pass through a $5 increase in parking citation fees due to state-imposed surcharges; otherwise, the agency will have to cover that state cost from our operating budget. Through programs such as SFpark, we are making it easier for people to comply with our parking regulations. In fact, we are issuing fewer citations and can further incentivize compliance, which is ultimately what we want. We don’t think it’s responsible for everyone else to cover the cost of these state surcharges for those who areticketed.
We’ve had to make some tough decisions, but these proposals would provide a responsible budget that avoids service cuts and additional increases to transit fares, while at the same time making a sound investment in maintenance and the future of our transportation network.
Ed Reiskin is the executive director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.