Transport Workers Union Local 200
May 16, 2005
Transport Workers Union Local 200
San Francisco, CA 94115

From “BeyondChron”

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Transit Riders Have Spoken: It’s Time for Supervisors to Listen

by  Casey Mills 16.MAY.05

For the past three weeks, a group of transit advocates has boarded buses and stood on street corners
throughout the city, talking face to face with thousands of San Franciscans. Organized as the Coalition for
Transit Justice, our group is armed with postcards and pens as it asks riders to send a message to the Board of
Supervisors to stop the proposed fare hikes and services cuts. The response from riders has been
overwhelming – not only has the Coalition obtained over 1,000 signatures, but nearly everyone we talk to
seems supportive of our cause and outraged over the proposed cuts and hikes. Now, it’s time for the Board of
Supervisors to listen to this chorus of voices and use every dime available to them to heed their call..

Many people’s first response when we tell them about the proposed fare hike is “Not again.” The city just
forced transit riders to pay an extra quarter for every ride a year and a half ago, and now public sentiment sits
squarely against another hike.

In addition, many can’t believe they’ll be receiving less service at a higher cost. Talk to folks about MUNI, and
everyone has a horror story about crowed buses flying by them as they sit and wait to get to work.

These sentiments translate into a whole lot of people signing on to our postcard, which reads “As a San
Francisco bus rider, I urge you to stop MUNI from raising fares and cutting service. San Franciscans depend
on affordable, reliable bus service to get to school and work. We can’t afford to pay more for less!”

After the recent discovery of almost $10 million extra in Muni’s budget, it seemed transit riders could breathe a
collective sigh of relief. The fare hike could be avoided, the worst service cuts could be stopped, and the Board
of Supervisors could be seen as heroes for keeping buses and trains affordable and reliable.

Last Thursday, the Board of Supervisor’s Budget Committee sent a proposal on to the full Board that took
away more than half of the $10 million - $4.6 million - and gave it to car drivers and illegal parkers, using it to
reduce parking fines and fees.

If the Board votes to approve this proposal, this give-away would come despite the city seeing almost no
organized public opposition to an increase in parking hikes. To vote for the decrease in parking fines and fees
would be to consider illegal parkers the city’s number one priority, as this group would get the biggest chunk of
the newfound money.

Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Executive Director Michael Burns’ came up with the proposal, and
claims that he wants to spend so much of the extra money on car drivers in part due to listening to comments
from the public. This is an outright lie. Not only has there not been a public hearing on the proposal, but the five
MTA hearings held on their budget brought hundreds of people out against fare hikes and service cuts. The
number of car drivers who testified could be counted with one hand.

Burns’ proposal does include stopping the raise in senior, youth and disabled fares, and some may argue that
this should be considered a victory. But Burns’ fare reduction represents a paltry give away, a $1.1 million
band-aid to allay transit rider’s anger at the more than $13 million worth of fare hikes in the current MTA

The public transit riders of San Francisco have spoken. Now, it’s up to the Board of Supervisors to listen. They
should vote down the proposed cuts in parking fines and fees, sending the money saved as a result back to the
MTA to go towards stopping the fare hikes and the most devastating service cuts.

The United Nation’s World Environmental Day is rapidly approaching, with San Francisco standing tall as the
host of the event. The U.N. uses the day to spark awareness about the environment and promote public action
to improvement, and Mayor Gavin Newsom has been touting it as a prefect opportunity to display our city’s
strong environmental consciousness.

What kind of message does it send to the world when our own city works to discourage the use of public transit
as it extends give-aways to illegal parkers?
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