Transport Workers Union Local 200
Board of Supervisors May 12th Hearing
Transport Workers Union Local 200
San Francisco, CA 94115

From “BeyondChron”

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Ammiano and McGoldrick Side with Elsbernd on MUNI Fares

Alison Stevens Rodrigues 13.MAY.05

This Friday the 13th brings unsettling news from Thursday's Budget and Finance Committee meeting that is
anything but superstition.

At the hearing to consider the Municipal Transportation Authority's Annual Budget for the fiscal year 2005-
2006, four of the five Supervisors agreed that $4.6 million (nearly half) of the newly discovered $9.2 million
should go toward reducing parking fees and fines. It's not surprising that Supervisor Fiona Ma sided with the
notoriously conservative Supervisor Sean Elsbernd to push the issue forward. But that both Supervisors Tom
Ammiano and Jake McGoldrick, traditionally progressive voices on MTA issues, joined Elsbernd in redirecting
money to car owners rather than Muni riders, shocked fare hike opponents.

The "finding" this week of an extra $9.2 million, mainly revenue from property and other taxes, led transit
advocates to believe that these funds would be used to stop the proposed upcoming fare hike, help avoid
service cuts, and make it easier to keep 150 Muni employees from being laid off.

But expectations that the Supervisors would follow that approach were not met.

At 11 a.m. Ammiano began the hearing by saying he wanted to help both MTA and "the people of San
Francisco," and that the two should not be mutually exclusive.

Unless "the people of San Francisco" are exclusively car drivers who will benefit from the reduction in parking
fees and fines, then Supervisor Ammiano's subsequent vote to allocate none of the new money to offset the fare
hike among riders who are not youth, seniors or disabled conflicted with this statement.

Supervisor Chris Daly was the only dissenter on the committee. Daly, like the majority of the 30 or so members
of the public that attended the hearing, was confused and angered by the outcome.

Early in the preceding Daly cautioned against not addressing the public about decisions on what to do with the
money, but to no avail.

In his own defence Muni chief Michael Burns said any and all future decisions on how to spend the $9.2 million
will be based on four or five months of public input, but that for now, the issue of possible spending is up for
general discussion.

"No one [from the public] got to address it though," said Sarah Norr, a member of the community group
Coalition for Transit Justice. "They did this all of a sudden. There was no discussion."

The Supervisors other than Daly were clearly swayed by Burns' insistence that there would be even more
financial setbacks if the board did not push for the parking fee and fine reductions. This was followed by
Elsbernd strong-arming his colleagues to push the ordnances forward.

As Fran Taylor, local activist, pointed out, the hearings come on the heels of the Texas Transportation Institute's
publication of their 2005 Urban Mobility Report, which indicates that Bay Area drivers on average waste 72
hours a year (beyond normal commuting hours) sitting in traffic.

After Los Angeles, the Bay Area has the worst traffic congestion in the United States, a country where, in
2003, clogged roads caused 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and 23 billion gallons of wasted fuel, according to
the report.

To help curb the congestion, researchers Tim Lomax and David Schrank, who wrote the report, site possible
solutions, including building more roads, adjusting commuting time and reducing traffic, and changing the way
commercial, office and residential developments occur.

They did not suggest decreasing parking fees or fines – actions that are likely to contribute to congestion, not
inhibit it.

"We should increase the cost of owning and operating a car," suggested Green Party member Sue Vaughn.
"This would encourage people to use public transportation, thereby decreasing congestion, pollution, and global

As it stands, the chief beneficiaries of the new money are car owners, who have already saved hundreds and
even thousands of dollars from the Governor's 2003 elimination of increases to the vehicular license fee.
Although Democrats opposed this reduction, San Francisco city officials appear to be similarly putting the
interests of car owners ahead of lower income MUNI riders.

For those dependent on MUNI, Friday the 13th came a day early.
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