The Super Bowl 50 Committee has not said it would refund the SFMTA for costs in rerouting, increasing service and other disruptions involved with the celebration events. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

SFMTA could pay Super Bowl transit costs

Muni may be on the hook for its transit service as San Francisco hosts the NFL’s Super Bowl City, according to the head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Between Jan. 23 and Feb. 12, SFMTA will reroute and increase service for Muni buses, Muni trains and the historic streetcar’s F-Market & Wharves line for the setup and operation of Super Bowl City.

The E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line will stop service altogether.

There are no plans for the Super Bowl 50 Committee to refund SFMTA for these efforts and disruptions.

The Super Bowl City is slated to run between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7, which will occupy much of downtown’s streets with games, stages and other Super Bowl related activities.

Tuesday at the regular meeting of the SFMTA Board of Directors, Peter Albert, planning manager at SFMTA, presented preliminary plans to boost service to nearby buses and trains.

SFMTA Board Director Cheryl Brinkman asked him, “I assume this will be revenue neutral to our agency? Or we’ll see an increase in the general fund from tax dollars?”

Ed Reiskin, SFMTA’s director of transit, cleared his throat and responded. “I don’t know that we know that,” he said. “Certainly costs will occur with extra service, such as subway service. Certainly the economy will get a bump. When The City’s economy does well that flows into our budget.”

But Reiskin compared the situation to the San Francisco-hosted America’s Cup race — when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison left The City on the hook for millions of dollars in costs.

Reiskin told Brinkman, “The predictions for the America’s Cup turned out to be more elusive.”

Though The City initially projected America’s Cup would bring in enough tax revenue to offset costs of hosting the worldwide sailing event, projected tax revenue fell far short of projections, according to The City. Ultimately, San Francisco was on the hook for $11 million, according to the Budget Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Of that cost, Muni spent $1.64 million on service for the event, according to the SFMTA.

Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district the Super Bowl City will operate in, told the San Francisco Examiner “Not a single penny of taxpayer money should be used.”

Super Bowl 50 Committee spokesman Nathan Ballard said “We’re working with Muni to keep costs down and do our part.”

When asked if there would be more concrete plans to pay for Muni disruptions later, he said, “It’s premature to put a price tag on any of this at this point.”

Still, it seems those costs may be reduced. Albert said many bus lines on wires (referred to as “trolley buses”) on Beale, Main and Spear streets near Market Street will be rerouted, because of structures, such as stages, planned for the Super Bowl City.

But those trolley buses will not need to be replaced with diesel buses due to some SFMTA engineering ingenuity, he said. Power lines not usually used for regular bus service will be employed for two-way trolley bus passage along single lanes, allowing a reroute, Albert told the Examiner.

Speaking to the board of directors, Albert said “When you have a big party, you want people to come, but not to come with their cars.”

Speaking outside the meeting, Reiskin told the Examiner though there are no immediate plans to recoup additional transit costs for the Super Bowl City, this is a common occurrence. SFMTA boosts transit for many events — from ballgames to festivals — for the benefit of taxpayers.

Super Bowl City, he said, is no different.

This story has been corrected from its print edition, to reflect that SFMTA head Ed Reiskin said the America’s Cup revenue was “elusive.”

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