munipiece2.jpgSan Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials approved a two-year budget this afternoon that will provide free transit passes to low-income youth and extend parking meter hours to Sundays.

The board unanimously approved operating budgets in the amounts of $821 million and $840.5 million for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The SFMTA board also voted to revisit the transit pass pilot program and determine whether it can be extended to provide free San Francisco Municipal Railway Fast Passes to all youth in the future, if more funding should be identified.

Supporters of the transit pass proposal, including Supervisor David Campos, continued to make their voices heard at the meeting.

The effort to obtain free Muni for youth dates back to almost a year ago and was spearheaded by Campos, who introduced a resolution in support of the idea at a Board of Supervisors meeting in September.

“You owe it to the ridership to make sure that we do right by them,” Campos said during public comment at the meeting.

Rev. Arnold Townsend, of the city’s Without Walls Church, told the board that the youth passes are “something that should have been done a long time ago” when students could no longer automatically attend their neighborhood school.

Before the meeting, Mayor Ed Lee said that he likes “the idea of free Muni for all students,” noting that paying for transit “limits their ability to get around the city.”

The pilot program will be in effect between Aug. 1, 2012, and May 31, 2014.

The two-year budget also calls for enforcing meters on Sundays, tentatively between noon and 6 p.m., with the hope of creating parking turnover in commercial corridors.

Rev. Donna Wood, pastor at Park Presidio United Methodist Church on Geary Boulevard, was one of many faith leaders who said their communities and services would be adversely impacted by meter enforcement on Sundays.

Wood urged the board to consider the behaviors of parishioners who live outside of San Francisco.

“They not only worship here, they spend their money here,” Wood said during public comment on the agenda item. “If they have to pay for parking, they’re not going to come.”

Despite the exhortations by members of the public to vote down the proposal, many of the SFMTA directors said they were in favor of extending meter hours to seven days a week.

“We have to think of the folks that don’t get free transit on Sundays the way people get free parking,” SFMTA director Joel Ramos said. “We have to start thinking about a different way that we use our streets.”

SFMTA director Cheryl Brinkman said that she supported the proposal because she has been considering the reverse situation.

“How would we defend making parking free on Sundays if we’ve been paying all these years?” she asked rhetorically.

The board said at today’s meeting that it plans to gather public feedback about setting hours of enforcement before Sunday meter hours go into effect next January.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • milkandpepsi

    I am a native San Franciscan. Having also spend some time living on the East Coast, I was always happy and proud to be from such a forward thinking, smart and progressive city. But no more…it’s embarrassing that we no longer know how to manage a budget and have to resort to regressive parking taxes on citizens to fund the operations of SF MTA. You see, now San Francisco is “special”. Unlike NY and Boston, SFMTA “needs” the Sunday parking revenue. The board says well Sunday’s are just like Saturdays now. No they are not…it’s a day that people rest in, attend services and spend time with family.

    I am all for being a transit first city, having grown up riding Muni, but this is simply a ridiculous proposal. It looks like those folks in Boston and NY do a better job of running their agency, Maybe we should hire some of those smart New Yorkers to run ours.

  • milkandpepsi

    I am a native San Franciscan. Having also spend some time living on the East Coast, I was always happy and proud to be from such a forward thinking, smart and progressive city. But no more…it’s embarrassing that we no longer know how to manage a budget and have to resort to regressive parking taxes on citizens to fund the operations of SF MTA. You see, now San Francisco is “special”. Unlike NY and Boston, SFMTA “needs” the Sunday parking revenue. The board says well Sunday’s are just like Saturdays now. No they are not…it’s a day that people rest in, attend services and spend time with family.

    I am all for being a transit first city, having grown up riding Muni, but this is simply a ridiculous proposal. It looks like those folks in Boston and NY do a better job of running their agency, Maybe we should hire some of those smart New Yorkers to run ours.

  • Mario

    milkandpepsi,

    You cannot compare Muni to Boston or NY. Muni is primarily surface street transit without dedicated transit lanes. Thus congestion makes it very expensive to operate. It can be made more efficient by taking space away from cars or by reducing congestion. Charging for parking reduces congestion, and it provides money that can be used to ensure congestion doesn’t increase (by avoiding service cuts).

  • Mario

    milkandpepsi,

    You cannot compare Muni to Boston or NY. Muni is primarily surface street transit without dedicated transit lanes. Thus congestion makes it very expensive to operate. It can be made more efficient by taking space away from cars or by reducing congestion. Charging for parking reduces congestion, and it provides money that can be used to ensure congestion doesn’t increase (by avoiding service cuts).

  • milkandpepsi

    Mario,
    Thank you for your response.
    I’ve lived in New York, and in Manhattan alone the surface streets are more crowded than ours. Their bus system, which uses the surface streets, also seems to run more efficiently.

    Also let’s be honest here, Sunday congestion is not the issue. This is a potential revenue source to fund MTA and one that has growth potential (either by extending the hourly rate or the hours of enforcement). Thus the potential is there to increase revenue by 1/7.

    And if our system is inherently more expensive, why aren’t the rider’s paying a proportionately higher fare. NY base fares are 2.50 and Chicago’s are 2.25. Also, I think the objective of providing free youth fares is a noble one, however, pick a policy that is enforcable like NY’s. How is anyone going to know which youths are low income or not?

    I am more than happy to subsidize our transit first policy with my annual quota of the most expensive parking tickets in the country. ( i am not kidding…i mean that)
    However, the sunday stuff just doesn’t make sense.

    I might feel differently if there was more information provided by Muni management that showed information on the following:

    ridership growth
    revenue/FTE
    fully loaded cost(inclusive of benefits)/FTE

    I would like to understand how these are changing over time and how these KPI’s benchmark against other transit agencies.

  • milkandpepsi

    Mario,
    Thank you for your response.
    I’ve lived in New York, and in Manhattan alone the surface streets are more crowded than ours. Their bus system, which uses the surface streets, also seems to run more efficiently.

    Also let’s be honest here, Sunday congestion is not the issue. This is a potential revenue source to fund MTA and one that has growth potential (either by extending the hourly rate or the hours of enforcement). Thus the potential is there to increase revenue by 1/7.

    And if our system is inherently more expensive, why aren’t the rider’s paying a proportionately higher fare. NY base fares are 2.50 and Chicago’s are 2.25. Also, I think the objective of providing free youth fares is a noble one, however, pick a policy that is enforcable like NY’s. How is anyone going to know which youths are low income or not?

    I am more than happy to subsidize our transit first policy with my annual quota of the most expensive parking tickets in the country. ( i am not kidding…i mean that)
    However, the sunday stuff just doesn’t make sense.

    I might feel differently if there was more information provided by Muni management that showed information on the following:

    ridership growth
    revenue/FTE
    fully loaded cost(inclusive of benefits)/FTE

    I would like to understand how these are changing over time and how these KPI’s benchmark against other transit agencies.