New Muni kiosks’ design, costs both eye-popping

Having $829,000 in your pocket will buy a lot of things on your wish list: A three-bedroom home in San Francisco, some flashy cars, maybe even a new yacht.

In Muni’s case, that total will get a couple of ticket kiosks.  

Last month, Muni unveiled its newest outlet — a sleek edifice where passengers can purchase all forms of transit fares — located on the corner of Geary Boulevard and Presidio Avenue. A second one is slated to be built at Powell and Market streets later this month.

Collectively, the two structures, which make up a total of 242 square feet, cost $829,000 to design, build,  ship and assemble. By comparison, a three-bedroom, 1,843-square-foot home goes for the same price in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood.

For an agency facing a $21.2 million budget deficit, an extra $829,000 could probably come in handy, but the funding for the kiosks comes from specific regional and federal grants, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

“These funds could not be spent on anything other than the designated project,” said Rose. “These are one-time funds and they do not come from our operating budget.”

Rose was unable to come up with a line-item breakdown of the cost, but he did say the agency spent $12,000 to move the structures from where they were assembled on The Embarcadero to their permanent locations.

Jerry Cauthen, a former transportation engineer and member of Save Muni, a watchdog group, said the costs of the kiosks were absurd.

“Those kiosks have to look nice and they need to be durable, but something is going on there,” said Cauthen. “Even at $500 per square foot — which is very expensive — the costs don’t come close to adding up. Locals are obsessed with this so-called ‘free money’ from the federal government, they don’t care what they spend it on.”

Olle Lundberg, founder of Lundberg Design, which designed the kiosks, called the structures “almost indestructible.”

Built of stainless steel panels, the kiosks will hold up against the elements and won’t require constant maintenance work.

They also have bulletproof glass, which will protect vendors from any possible robbery attempts. He added that the project went out to competitive bid, with the $829,000 total being the cheapest.

Muni located the new kiosk on Presidio and Geary because of the intersection’s proximity to local bus lines, including the 38-Geary, 31-Balboa and 5-Fulton.

Passengers will be able to pick up all forms of transit fares at the kiosks, from Clipper cards to discounted Lifeline passes.

“The volume of customers that passes the location on Geary near Masonic makes this is an ideal spot to expand our efforts to the west side of town,” said Nathaniel Ford, Muni’s executive director.

What $829K will buy you

  • A three-bedroom, 2½-bathroom, 1,843-square-foot home on Haight Street ($829,000)
  • 13 new Porsche Boxster Spyders ($61,000 each)
  • A 92-foot Eurostyle yacht, featuring three cabins ($789,000)
  • Nearly two years of work from the Giants’ Andres Torres ($426,000 per year)
  • 677 tickets to this year’s Super Bowl in Dallas ($1,223 each)
  • About 39 months’ stay at the Ritz Carlton in New York City ($695/night)
  • 11,842 monthly Muni Fast Passes with BART service ($70 each)

Source: Various websites, including Trulia Real Estate search and Yacht Council

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