Sup. Wiener Proposes Surcharge on Big Tix Entertainment to Help Fix MUNI

Scott Wiener on MUNI

Supervisor Wiener on MUNI

Supervisor Wiener has thrown out the idea of assessing a per ticket surcharge on the City’s big entertainment draws like the SF Giants or Outside Lands music festival to help pay for MUNI’s woefully under maintained fleet of trains and busses.

Supervisor Wiener wrote on his Facebook page:

“MUNI is at the edge, with billions in deferred maintenance, not enough vehicles, and poor reliability. We need to make sure that service is adequate both for these events and for the general public’s needs.”

The proposal in essence is this: a fee range of $1 to $3 per ticket could generate between $3 million to $22 million for event venues that seat between 1,000 to 5,000.  The money raised by the surcharge would all be earmarked for MUNI needs and hopefully the proposal would be written in such a way that the funds couldn’t be raided by other City departments.

Scott Wiener's no holds barred tweet assessment of MUNI from 2010

Scott Wiener’s no holds barred tweet assessment of MUNI from 2010

There isn’t much argument from anyone in the City across a wide political spectrum that MUNI is in dire need of an overhaul.  Sup. Wiener has made no bones about his lack of love for MUNI ever since his very public tweet back in 2010.

Buses, train cars, and trolleys are under maintained and becoming more unreliable by the day. A recent power failure on the N Judah line during rush hour had MUNI scrambling to provide shuttles and riders beside themselves trying to figure out a way to get home past the estimated hour or more delays that were being forecast.

MUNI operators are equally frustrated. Speaking on the condition of anonymity a twenty-eight year veteran driver told me, “I’ve told all my family-don’t ride MUNI if you don’t have to. I have had to turn in buses that weren’t working properly after being told they were by the yard. There aren’t enough mechanics. Some of these busses are twenty years old and worn out.”

Wiener’s proposal has merit and would help raise much-needed funds. What it won’t do is alleviate the systemic problems in MUNI as whole that have existed ever since MUNI was merged in 1996 with SF Parking Department and then later the Taxi Commission in 2008.

The idea was to centralize public transportation under the banner of the SFMTA but what it did was create a bloated monster that seems wracked by ineffective management, wasted public funds and maintaining a status quo of ineptness.

MUNI funding needs to be cleared up and perhaps the department returned to a separate entity within the City and not meshed with the either Parking Dept or Taxi Commission. This would pull their budget free to be better scrutinized, assessed and then adjusted.

MUNI J line on Church packed to the gills-as ususal.

MUNI J line on Church packed to the gills-as ususal.

Mayor Lee and several former mayors have vowed change for the better, but in just the last few years the City has seen several fare increases, service cuts, and layoffs of maintenance and cleaning personnel that make riding MUNI less attractive, less reliable, and more expensive.

What gains may have been made in the past decade since restructuring MUNI and the Department of Parking and Traffic into the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) are arguably slipping away amid budget cuts, which are forcing cutbacks that the agency and the riding public has been feeling for years.

Sup. Wiener’s outside the box thinking should be applauded in trying to problem solve ongoing MUNI issues. Our City and community rely upon our public transportation like few other municipalities and we need to make it a priority on the same level as we did healthcare when Healthy SF was introduced. Unhealthy citizen’s cost the City more than healthy vibrant one’s do and the same can be said of our public transportation system.

“Muni in the subway is at a breaking point right now. The system is not meeting the needs of 2013 San Francisco, and with a significant increase in population, economic activity and potential stadiums … that breaking point is going to get worse. If we don’t begin planning now for how we are going to fund, grow and shore up the system we are going to be in world of hurt.”

Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

You may also like...

12 Responses

  1. MarkinSF says:

    I am not sure if I am down with just handing the inept management more of my money. I say restructure first then ask the public for more money if needed.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    • rblack says:

      I agree, just giving them another blank check without seeing some improvement and some cuts to management and the ridiculous amount of overtime they pay is just stupid.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. Stephen says:

    I think a surcharge is good idea to raise additional funding for MUNI.
    However, what is the plan of action to improve MUNI? Throwing more money at an incompetent and mismanaged agency will not fix service issues. The surcharge is only half the battle. A serious, well conceived plan of action will be the only way this proposal becomes effective. Otherwise, its just another wasteful and unnecessary tax.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. rblack says:

    Wiener is holding quarterly MUNI performance reviews beginning yesterday.

    Here is what came out of yesterday’s meeting:

    – Muni’s on-time performance is just 58.7 percent, way below the voter-mandated goal of 85 percent.

    – On an average day, 181 vehicles need to be held out for maintenance.

    – A sufficient number of light-rail vehicles are available to operate full scheduled Muni Metro service on just 33.1 percent of weekdays.

    – Muni suffers 216 delays of more than 10 minutes per month on transit lines, meaning approximately 2,500 delays a year.

    – The cost of those delays during peak hours in April was about $4.2 million, meaning $50 million when extrapolated to a full year.

    Pretty f’ing shocking, but not surprising.

    Let’s hope Wiener continues to hold MUNI’s feet to the fire and publicly shaming them 4 times a year.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  4. Josh says:

    How about we start making these commuter buses that make free illegal use of the MUNI bus stops (I counted eight alone in a 20 minute span between Castro and Mission on 18th) start ponying up for MUNI improvements?

    If they don’t find a way to regulate these ubiquitous commuter buses soon, they’re going to be the death of San Francisco as we know it.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • rblack says:

      They contribute by keeping all of those people out of their cars and off of MUNI.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

      • Josh says:

        But then neither those people nor the companies that sanction use of the buses are contributing to MUNI. Perhaps they should be required to pick up from a central terminus, like Transbay Terminal. That way those people can still live in the city, the buses can pick up from one place, and the people who ride them can contribute to MUNI to get home.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • MarkinSF says:

      I agree Josh. I think they should not be allowed in the city center. In addition to your points, I would like to add that they are a hazard.

      As a bike commuter, I often have to ride out into traffic, during rush hour no less, because they block the bike lanes on Market street in front of the Safeway/Eros. Simone will get hurt and only then will something be done.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

Speak your mind...