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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hidden Joys of Proposed Muni Budget

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Ready or not, here it comes...
  • Ready or not, here it comes...
Yesterday, the Municipal Transportation Agency reluctantly passed a two-year budget for Muni. We're notifying you today as a symbolic nod to the overriding feature of that budget -- its 10 percent service cuts. Much like the buses and trains themselves, you had to wait longer for this article.

Those cuts -- which stand to save Muni some $29 million in fiscal 2011 -- will probably be the item coming under the most scrutiny from the Board of Supervisors, which must give the MTA budget its blessing by the end of fiscal 2010 on June 30. Our calls to supes gauging how likely they are to flip MTA's budget -- which they threatened last year but could not pull off -- have not yet been returned.

Another joyful financial uncertainty is the MTA banking on $7 million from the County Transportation Authority (that's just the supes with another name doling out transportation money) -- which is no sure thing. Also uncertain is the much-ballyhooed bonanza of $11.7 million or more via selling off taxi medallions, which hasn't netted a red cent, or $20 million in labor concessions over the next two fiscal years -- which is about as hypothetical as it comes.

You can read the entire budget proposal here, and here are some more joys unearthed from it: 

click to enlarge Wanna rent this trolley out? Better hurry...
  • Wanna rent this trolley out? Better hurry...

  • To be fair, Muni is proposing to scale back its service cuts by half in

    2012. But, to be clear, it is not using the unexpected $36 million in

    state funds to mitigate service cuts anytime soon. And as for Sunday

    meters -- which Mayor Gavin Newsom long railed against -- that's not on


  • Guess what? "The new fare gates scheduled to be installed at MUNI Metro stations in 2010 will not accept cash, therefore, cash paying customers will be required to purchase a limited use card at a ticket vending machine to enter through the gates." Our prediction: Much grumbling. Meanwhile, the agency predicts this'll bring in an additional $4.2 million in the next two fiscal years.

  • Free parking for city employees near the Hall of Justice, City Hall, and elsewhere stands to be eliminated. This is projected to bring in $2.8 million in each of the next two fiscal years.

  • Accordingly, you'll be paying at least a dollar more for every Muni pass in 2012

  • Muni still budgets $59.3 million in "work orders" to be paid to other city departments in both fiscal 2011 and 2012

  • In lieu of pie-in-the-sky talk about selling taxi medallions, the MTA now bandies about the possibility of leasing them out until the sales plan is finalized. Granted, we haven't researched the plan, but leasing out these valuable assets seems like a much better idea than selling them outright for good, no?

  • Finally, the rental rate for anyone who wishes to hire out a cable car or F-Line Trolley is going to skyrocket. Prices will jump from the alarmingly affordable current rates of $467 and $438 for two hours, respectively, to $704 for a cable car in fiscal 2010, and $727 the next year; and $646 for an F-Line in fiscal 2010 and $671 in '11. Best rent out those streetcars, ASAP!

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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