SFMTA says it needs $21 billion for next 20 years

SFMTA says it needs $21 billion for next 20 years

Money makes transit go ’round. And in San Francisco, a new number has been identified to do just that: $21 billion.

That’s the amount it will take to keep Muni, bike lanes and roadside features in San Francisco in a state of good repair for 20 years and to expand service, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s newly released Capital Improvement Plan.

The identified needs arise in a dry spell of transportation funding. California’s state legislature is considering new transportation funding measures in a special session, according to The Associated Press, and Congress has a deadline of Oct. 29 to come to an agreement on a deadlocked transportation funding bill.

At the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, SFMTA head Ed Reiskin laid out the importance of the plan.

“We probably won’t get the full $21 billion,” he said to the board. But,“it’s important that we start to lay out the needs. It’s really the only starting point to be able to participate in future conversations with the state and federal government.”

Outside the meeting, Reiskin told the San Francisco Examiner that a lion’s share of San Francisco’s infrastructure funding comes from the federal government, and to a lesser extent, the state.

“Both the state and federal governments are essentially stalled in terms of identifying transportation funding,” he said.

The state legislature entered a special session to tackle different funding proposals, to no avail. “The legislature didn’t advance anything,” Reiskin said, “that’s delayed at best, maybe we’ll see something next year.”

Now, local government is spending more to meet transportation needs, he said. San Francisco voters approved a $500 million bond for the SFMTA last November.

But long-term funding is a challenge, Reiskin said. “We don’t have the means to do it by ourselves.”

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Capital needs are infrastructure, like parking meters, street lights and bus stations and Muni’s fleet. Half of the $21 billion identified is just to keep the SFMTA’s investments in good repair, a quarter are to enhance what it already owns, and another quarter is for capital expansion.

None of it is funded yet, Reiskin said, as the plan is a starting point the SFMTA uses to request funding.

Darton Ito, the SFMTA’s long range planning manager, presented the capital plan to the board Tuesday. “Those are reinvestments in the system, not necessarily the super-sexy new services,” Ito told the Examiner, when describing “good repair.”

About 82 percent of funding needs identified were for public transit, with the rest divvied between walking, biking and private vehicles.

The capital plan does look at some funding needs of Supervisor Scott Wiener’s Subway Master Plan, which was recently introduced to the Board of Supervisors. If passed, The City would be tasked with “always” building a new subway.

“To transform our public transit systems, we absolutely need more federal and state support,” Wiener told the Examiner.

Grand visions aside, even keeping Muni buses running, policy makers said, may depend on state and federal money. And that money is drying up, fast.capital fundingMuniSFMTASubway Master PlanSupervisor Scott WienerTransit

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