New Fast Pass proposal would push cost to $55

Muni patrons have a respite from a Fast Pass price increase, but maybe only for one more year.

Despite a strong public outcry and opposition from its board of directors, Muni has proposed implementing a $10 increase to the monthly pass — although not until the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to the agency’s most recent budget proposal.

Faced with an $80.7 million projected budget shortfall over the next two years, Muni officials are also considering raising discounted pass prices by $5, imposing a $10 hike on all parking fines that are not capped and increasing the fee for parking boot removal by $130, according to the report. The 2008-09 fiscal year budget must be balanced by May 1.

The price increases, which would raise regular Fast Pass prices to $55 and discount prices to $15, are projected to bring the department $15.2 million, according to the report. Those fare increases would not be in place earlier than July 2009, according to Judson True, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

During the March 18 SFMTA board of directors meeting, overall sentiment among the directors was against raising fare prices until Muni established better on-time performance, which currently languishes below the 85 percent benchmark set by San Francisco voters in 1999.

True said results from the SFMTA’s Transit Effectiveness Project, the first in-depth examination of the department in years, should yield better performance rates in the future.

“This is the budget we need to start to transform the transportation system in San Francisco,” True said.

Andrew Sullivan, who heads the transportation advocacy group Rescue Muni, said raising multifare units would slow down performance times, because riders leery of paying the extra amount would resort to buying 90-minute transfer tickets with cash.

“Nothing slows down boarding more than people who stop to pay for the cash transfer,” Sullivan said. “It definitely has an impact on the on-time performance rate.”

wreisman@examiner.com

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