Muni boycott on group’s agenda 

Angered by Muni’s recent spate of fare increases, service reductions and poor management decisions, frustrated commuters hope to persuade the Municipal Transportation Agency board to reverse recent rate increases.

Jared Roussel, one of two city residents organizing a grass-roots effort, is urging riders beginning Monday to boycott public transit for the month, a measure some passengers and advocates see as counterproductive.

Formed a little more than a week ago, the March Against Muni Facebook page already has nearly 1,000 members — and is growing — all of whom are frustrated with the recent developments of San Francisco’s public transit agency.

“You mention Muni in a conversation, and inevitably someone will bring up a really bad experience,” said Blake Bakken, the movement’s co-organizer along with Roussel. “We really want to create a collective voice for Muni riders.”

Between 1,000 and 2,000 participants are expected to gather at 5 p.m. Monday at Powell Street, Roussel said.

Bakken and Roussel released a manifesto of sorts, issuing 10 demands of Muni, including no more fare increases, service reductions, employing rude operators or putting out dirty buses. To emphasize those matters, the duo is asking Muni riders to boycott the transit system for the month of March.

“We really see it as two options,” said Roussel, who came up with the idea for a boycott after riding on the crowded 49-Van Ness bus. “Either we can continue to let Muni use our resources without any repercussions, or we can choose to speak with our money. We’re paying customers, we deserve a transit system that works.”

In the past year, Muni has increased its Fast Pass prices from $45 to $70, and it will reduce service by 10 percent starting in May.

Andrew Sullivan, chairman of Rescue Muni, a local transit watchdog group, said many people are frustrated with the state of affairs at Muni, but boycotting the system is not the answer.

“Honestly, I think it’s pretty counterproductive,” Sullivan said. “Boycotting the Fast Pass takes away money from Muni, when Muni really needs money. This isn’t the time for the Birmingham bus boycott.”

Other Muni passengers concurred with Sullivan, saying they’re angry with recent developments, but aren’t ready to abandon public transit.

“I haven’t quite reached my tipping point,” said Paul Cope, 46, a city resident and Fast Pass holder. “The things going on with Muni are disturbing and disconcerting, but I still need to get around The City, and this is my best and most affordable option.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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