San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today announced a proposed additional $48.1 million investment into the city’s public transit system that would allow the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to increase reliability and cleanliness of its fleet and hire almost 250 new Muni employees.
Lee gathered with members of the SFMTA, the Board of Supervisors and local union leaders this morning to announce his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year that would allow for more Muni operators, mechanics and cleaning crews to be hired to ensure that more buses and trains remain in service and that riders have a better experience.
“The entire system is being paid attention to,” Lee said, explaining that the funds would ensure that Muni expands and improves as the city’s population continues to grow at a rapid pace.
SFMTA director of transportation Ed Reiskin said there are now roughly 700,000 daily boarders on Muni, up from 600,000 daily boarders just a decade ago.
The funding announced today, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, would allow Muni to increase service by 10 percent over the next two years, Reiskin said.
He said 244 new job positions would be created with the new investment, 170 as bus and light-rail vehicle drivers and the remaining in various cleaning and mechanic positions.
Reiskin said new employees would be hired starting July 1.
Supervisor Scott Wiener, the author of Proposition B, which passed last November, tying transit funding to the city’s population growth, said he has been riding Muni for nearly two decades and has watched the system evolve but also become incredibly overcrowded.
Wiener said this investment would help improve public transit capacity, which he said he hopes can make Muni “attractive enough to draw people out of their cars.”
He said the city’s streets are experiencing severe congestion and that if people are going to switch to public transportation, Muni needs to expand and improves its reliability.
Reiskin said San Francisco is in a unique position and that most other U.S. cities are not able to make these large investments in their transit systems.
He said San Francisco voters wanted more funding and that they are getting exactly what they want.
Simon Wong, president of Transport Workers Union of America Local 200, said today that it is no surprise that Muni vehicles are often behind schedule.
“If you’re short manpower, you’re not guaranteed to be on time,” Wong said, explaining that a lot of important positions were cut from Muni during the recession.
Reiskin said not only is the SFMTA hiring more manpower, but the city is also now able to vigorously enforce laws that reduce street congestion, such as double parking and blocking intersections.
According to the SFMTA, the agency now has a $1 billion operating budget that allows for purchases of new hybrid buses and light-rail vehicles, as well as major street and pedestrian safety projects.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News