In an effort to manage a budget deficit the Chron has described as ready to “balloon to almost $103 million,” the SF MTA’s called a special Board of Directors meeting this Friday at 10 AM to discuss (among other things) the MTA’s revised plan to cut Muni service, raise fares, and add new ways to generate revenue.

Included in the new plan: “premium” Fast Passes for Express and Cable Car riders, reductions in frequency of service on nearly all lines, and ending service to several lines by hours earlier in the evenings.

The MTA’s first shot at cuts (to service) and increases (to fares), on January 19, was met with a lot of unhappiness on all sides. One of the most controversial fee increase proposals, a $5 charge to ride the historic F Market streetcar line, does not appear in the new proposal. Perhaps those SFist readers who thought it was a diversionary tactic were on to something?)

Instead, the fare increases for Muni riders center around cable car use, for which there would be a “premium” Fast Pass (That’s right! The same cable cars that seem to go out of service nearly every other day!) and for riders of Express routes, who’d get a similar premium pass.

In the proposal, these passes are described as “similar to the BART/Muni Premium Pass,” and we’re confirming with MTA spokesperson Judson True that by “similar” this means “will also cost $70.” And True comes through for us again! “Yes, under the proposal the $70 “A” Adult Fast Pass (as opposed to the $60 “M” Muni-only pass) would be required for cable cars and express buses.” So there you go.

Of course, even as the MTA suggests that express riders pay more for their passes, those routes will become far less express, with frequencies at peak times and mid day for many express lines reduced by 1-3 minutes, evening frequencies by 2-10 minutes, and having the others stop service “earlier.”

Most other Muni lines will experience similar reductions in frequency, with almost all lines coming 2-10 minutes less often than they do now and/or starting or ending service earlier in the day. Most notably, Owl bus routes, which now run every 30 minutes, would now run only once an hour.

We’ve embedded the overview of fee increases and cuts that will be presented to the board on Friday for you to check out in greater detail. Please do post your questions in our comments, so we can try to get you answers — there’s a lot of info there, and we’re still digesting it ourselves. And if you’d like to go beyond the overview, here’s the detailed list of proposed service reductions, and the MTA’s overall operating budget. Read ’em and weep!

So what’s next? According to these docs, after this presentation to the MTA Board on Friday, the Board is expected to meet again on February 16 to possibly approve the service changes, with possible approval of proposed fee increases (which have to be OKed by the Board of Supes) at the March 30 meeting.

SFMTA Presentation on FY 10 Budget Including Muni Changes 1-29-10

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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