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Friday, July 25, 2014

Here's Another Chance for You to Pay More for Better Buses and Safer Roads

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 4:49 PM


Funding for public transportation has never been based on population in San Francisco, believe it or not. That might all change in November if a new charter amendment passed by the Board of Supervisors this week makes it to the general ballot. This bump in cashflow won’t just fund Muni – it'll also help finance street safety measures that benefit cyclists and pedestrians.

Until now Muni and other transportation funding has come from the federal government and the city. While the fares that riders pay helps to adjust for population, it’s not all enough money to run the buses and the streets. With the recent rapid growth citywide, both Muni and the streets (and BART, but that’s another matter) struggle to keep pace with the demand. To put all this into content: San Francisco has grown by about 100,000 residents in the last two decades, and 20,000 residents in the last four years.
The additional cash would add up to about $23 million, with 25 percent going to pedestrian and cycling-related infrastructure. The rest would go to increasing Muni capacity. That roughly $5 or $6 million in cycling infrastructure could buy plenty of bike elevators or some new sidewalk bulb-outs, bike lanes, green boxes — all things that would make streets safer for the more vulnerable road users (bikes, moms with strollers).

That figure would dramatically increase the money that's currently earmarked for bike and pedestrian projects by about 15 percent. According to the city budget, San Francisco spends some $24.9 million on bike projects and $3.7 million on pedestrian safety projects.

Jeff Cretan, legislative aid for Supervisor Scott Weiner, who proposed the charter amendment, said that, based on the City Controller’s estimates, funding from the ballot measure would pump in $22 million initially, and increase up to $25 million in the following two years. Cretan said that this measure was effectively a stop-gap to get more money to public transportation in lieu of the Vehicle License Fee.

This charter amendment could be cancelled if that fund-raising measure goes through later. The Vehicle License Fee is projected to raise as much as $1 billion statewide over the next decade, but no word on how that money would be divvied up. The charter amendment will be on the same ballot as a $500 million general obligation bond, also for transportation.

The Mayor’s Office and some of the Board of Supervisors opposed the charter amendment, saying there's a small chance both measures will pass simultaneously.

So now the future of safe cycling is all in your hands. 

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Bio:
Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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