Central Subway is bad for Muni, bad for riders

By now, people might be wondering how San Francisco’s government managed to saddle itself with a $1.6 billion, hugely wasteful Central Subway. With Muni finances in disarray, why would it squander resources on such an ill-conceived project? The answer is that the project was sold on false pretenses.

Three years ago, people were being told that the subway would carry between 90,000 and 100,000 riders a day. That was false. The current estimate is an anemic 42,400 riders a day, a figure destined to go still lower.

In dozens of public meetings and in the draft environmental impact report, people were told that the subway would save Muni $23.8 million a year. Also false. The current figure, submitted to the feds two months ago, shows the subway as actually costing Muni an extra $6.89 million a year.

Project sponsors have repeatedly trumpeted the reduced “onboard” trip times. Missing from the discussions was any mention of walking times, escalator times and waiting times. With the effect of these activities included, most Central Subway trips would take longer than today’s bus trips.

Given these factors and the planned additional cuts in Stockton Street bus service, the Central Subway would both worsen conditions in Chinatown and damage the rest of Muni. As indicated by the CCDC in its recently released Chinatown Pedestrian Study, there are far better ways of improving transportation along Stockton Street.

Gerald Cauthen, Oakland

Missing the obvious

It has become something of a tradition, we four married couples sending various partners to the Turkey Day football game each year. Having graduated from different high schools (Mission, Galileo, Washington, Balboa) adds to the fun.

I fully expected Balboa to win this year, having read your sportswriter’s high account of Bal’s quarterback. Alas, Balboa was blown out 35-6. Considering regular-season play (Washington was 9-2 and Balboa 5-7), only in San Francisco can reality be so dismissed.

Paul Burton, San Francisco

Any savings is good thing

The Nov. 30 editorial says, “Federal pay freeze just an empty gesture” because it only amounts to one-twentieth of 1 percent of total federal expenditures. But it may have a greater significance than just the monetary value alone.

Consider if this one-twentieth of 1 percent equaled just one minute of the budget year, that extended our nation’s sovereignty for an additional minute from being lost due to monetary insolvency and takeover by a creditor such as has happened to Iceland, this one minute would be greater in time than all of the people’s freedom, other than in America, who have lived since the last ice age.

In this perspective, even cutting federal agencies expenditures by $100 million, or an across-the-board 10 percent federal pay cut, could provide the American people even more time of sovereignty, and in this respect, provide an incentive for them to cut to the quick and save our cherished freedoms.

Frank Norton, San Francisco

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