Two San Francisco supervisors joined dozens of community members and San Francisco Municipal Railway employees outside City Hall today to condemn recent fare hikes as well as service cuts that are going into effect Saturday on the Muni system.
Supervisors David Campos and Eric Mar were among several speakers at the noontime rally who called on San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials to reverse the cuts and fee hikes.
Fares for senior, youth and disabled monthly passes increased by $5 on May 1, from $15 to $20. The service changes going into effect Saturday will affect most bus routes and rail lines, reducing frequency on most routes and hours of operations on others.
The service cuts and fare hikes were designed to close a budget deficit that at one point was more than $50 million.
Campos said Muni “hasn’t done all it possibly can to prevent service cuts,” and that “we cannot tell people we want them to ride Muni while cutting the frequency of the buses.”
Campos was one of many speakers who called on Muni officials and San Francisco police to stop what they said were “saturation raids” targeting minorities to enforce the agency’s transfer policy. Speakers said these “raids” target city neighborhoods with large minority populations.
Campos said considering the economic climate and the state of the agency’s finances, “the last thing we want to do is harass riders.”
Beatriz Herrera, a member of the group People Organized to Win Employment Rights, said the combination of these policies “are going to have a significant effect on our community, mainly minorities and working-class families.”
Bob Planthold of the Senior Action Network said the policies were a double whammy for many people he knows since “we can’t afford fare increases and we can’t get on the crowded buses because Muni’s cutting back service.”
Eric Williams, a Muni cable car operator, said that while Muni operators sometimes have disagreements with riders, the real problem was with upper management, urging Muni to “chop from the top.”
Mar, one of the two city supervisors at the events, pledged that the Board of Supervisors will not allow the SFMTA “to balance the budget on the backs of riders and operators within the system.”
The SFMTA approved its two-year budget and the 10 percent service cuts in a 4-3 vote on April 20, but the budget still has to go before the Board of Supervisors for city budget approval by July 31.
Muni officials have said they planned to restore half of the reduced service, or 5 percent, in fiscal year 2012.
Muni Operators and Riders Expanding Public Transit, an alliance of the various groups, is holding a meeting on the service cuts and fare hikes on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Centro Del Pueblo, located at 474 Valencia St.