SFMTA officials announce promising budget outlook

For the first time in at least half a dozen years, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is anticipating a budget in the next two years that is not in the red, officials revealed at an annual workshop on Tuesday.

The discussions around the budget were preliminary, predicting how costs might appear for fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16, and not considering the agency’s official financial plan.

While the budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is $864.9 million, the budget projection is $937.6 million in 2014-15 and $958 million in 2015-16, according to SFMTA.

“Our funding resources have become significantly, much larger,” said SFMTA Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose. “We’ve been very successful in bringing funding to the table in the last several years, using local funds and competing very well for national and regional resources.”

Possible fare increases and their impacts on the budget were also laid out. Increasing youth and senior fares from 35 percent to 50 percent of the normal price, for example, would result in more than $2 million for the agency.

“Just five years ago, we were looking to have to bust into that reserve to keep service going,” transit board member Malcolm Heinicke said, “So it’s really impressive.”

A 10 percent increase in light-rail service hours was also recommended for fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Budget hearings to consider changes to fees, fares and fines will take place Feb. 18 and March 4. The first opportunity for the board to adopt the changes will be April 1.Bay Area NewsbudgetChief Financial Officer Sonali BoseSFMTATransittransportation

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