Maybe. For the first time, Muni staff is officially raising the prospect of a different F‑line fare with its governing board.
The agenda for the SFMTA (Muni) Board of Directors meeting for March 17 includes a downloadable PDF for item 11, a budget synopis by the CFO, revealing that Muni’s projected deficit for the next fiscal year is much worse than previously predicted: $129 million.
The budget report contains a number of options — not recommendations — for closing the budget gap. These include every employee at Muni not showing for work (or getting paid) one day per month; various reductions of service levels (3%, 5%, or 8%) for motor coaches and trolley coaches (but not rail); various parking and fee increases, and — a fare increase for the F-line, from $1.50 to $2.50 for riders paying cash. This move would increase revenue by an estimated $1 million.
Again, note that this is one item on a laundry list of options. Other fare increase options include raising all streetcar and bus cash fares from the urrent $1.50, in place for 3 1/2 years, to either $1.75 (which would raise $7 million) or $2.00 (which would raise $14 million).
Market Street Railway’s position on F-line fares has always been that they should be the same as basic Muni service. It’s the neighborhood trolley for the Castro, Downtown, Golden Gateway, and other neighborhoods. At the same time, we recognize that the base fare has to go up periodically as costs do — and Muni’s base fare hasn’t increased since 2005 and is now considerably lower than most U.S. transit properties.
Currently, public hearings to consider any fare change are scheduled on April 7 and 21. We will keep you up to date on what’s going on here.
Update: The idea of a separate fare for the F-line never made it to the discussion stage in front of the Muni board. A general fare increase seems inevitable given the budget situation, but the F-line will be treated the same as all the other bus and streetcar lines.