When it comes to funding, Muni has been down so long, everything looks like up to them at this point. So the surprise news earlier this week that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a pair of bills that'll send roughly $36 million Muni's way
-- after he'd earlier said he'd veto them
-- was like finding a winning lottery ticket under a dumpster.
But, like everything that comes Muni's way, it's a mixed blessing. Yes, this will free up scores of millions for Muni and hundreds of millions for Bay Area transit agencies. But it officially puts the nail in the coffin of the voter-approved gas taxes -- that had showered far more money on Muni and other agencies until Schwarzenegger hijacked it
. And there's no guarantee even this money won't be snatched away sometime down the road when things get even worse. Essentially, the governor stopped up Muni's well and now wants to hand it a canteen. But when you're dying of thirst, you'll take what you can get.
The big question for readers, though, is: Will this save your rear end? With Muni planning to implement 10 percent service cuts in May to ostensibly save some $28.5 million, will the $36 million influx stave that off?
While the state money is earmarked for this fiscal year (which ends at the close of June), the money won't become available until June 22 -- making it uncertain if it can be used to plug transit agencies' current fiscal holes.
We asked Muni spokeswoman if this money would be used to prevent those 10 percent cuts. Her answer? Ask me next week.
"Our staff is reviewing the impact of the $36 million and will present a set of recommendations to our Board of Directors on Tuesday" May 30, she said.
If Muni does end up taking the money and going ahead with the service cuts -- well, it'll be intriguing to hear the justification for that. Next week's MTA Board meeting just got a whole lot more interesting.
Photo | Jim Herd