$2.50 for an F-line ride?

Maybe. For the first time, Muni staff is officially raising the prospect of a different F‑line fare with its governing board.

Muni Circular Logo

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.

Comments: 16

  1. Oh great… if Muni’s allowed to get away with this, it’s only a matter of time until a ride on the F-Line costs $5 each way with no transfer. Have we ever known them to give up a revenue source once they’ve found one?

  2. Although the “F” cars get a lot of ridership from tourists, they do carry enough local folks to qualify as a transit line rather than a tourist attraction. I’m curious about what Muni might do to senior pass rates. Last time I visited MuniLand, I bought a monthly senior pass even though I was only in town for a few days. First time I visited as a railfan (1967) the base fare was 15 cents, and the big challenge was to see how many trips you could get out of a transfer. Then there was the $1.00 Sunday/Holiday Pass–I once used one for a ride to East Bay Terminal at 4:45 am on the Tuesday after Labor Day, just before it expired.

  3. I think it’s an awful idea, as has been pointed out, the F does serve locals (It did replace two bus lines, after all) and it’s bad enough that locals who don’t have a Fast Pass are effectively shut out from the cable car system due to the high fare and lack of transfers. I agree with the first anonymous commenter, if the F has it’s own fare, it would only be a matter of time until it was raised to the same price as the cable car fare.

  4. A lot of transit around the country is a $2.00 ticket, so Muni is cheep by comparison. And you get what you pay for since Muni has hands down the worst service, and worst customer service I’ve been on in America.
    One of the more reasonable options is to charge extra for BART, which I wish they would have done from the get go, because I maybe use my Muni Pass on BART maybe twice a year, but they charge me for it anyway.
    A high price on express service makes sense because it’s a premium service over the local routes that cover the same corridors, but what kind of premium does the F-Line offer? It’s faster than walking? If Muni is going to charge extra for F-Line service then they better start offering an F bus that doesn’t have a premium.
    Of course, what happens when the F-Line isn’t running and it’s nothing but busses? Are they still going to charge $2.50 for a local bus when it’s flagging F?

  5. If Muni can find ways to keep all the F runs filled without having a bus fill in, streetcars operable, and being able to keep up with the capacity issues on the F, then the $2.50 fare can be justified. I don’t think Muni can continue treating the F as a regular line if they’re going to have a special fare in place.
    I think Muni should charge more for Express service if they can make it run like a Pick-up/Drop-off only type of service.
    Muni should also give a discount for those using Translink and should charge more for those who will be paying on bus (versus having an actual pass).

  6. All well and fine, but as the fare goes up, no effort is made to collect the fare from the same people who never pay it, many of whom feel they are entitled to ride for free. Operators who don’t cooperate with these degenerates are treated like dirt, with no support from Muni. Muni is extremely affordable for those who feel obligated to pay, and could go up to $2.00 regular across the board, but where are the fare police? If we’re going to raise the fare, when the fare is a small percentage of Muni’s actual funding, let’s at least make the symbolism a bit more fair, and assign some people to help the operator collect the money. And while we’re at it, since the bus cleaners reportedly get paid more than the operators, why not teach them how to actually clean a streetcar, the way they do it in L.A, Portland, and Melbourne? Maintenance may indeed have little constituency on the MTA board, as one Muni exec told the Examiner, but a wee bit more maintenance would go a long way in making Muni a better experience for everyone.

  7. Paul, keep in mind that Muni has been screwed over by the city when it comes to hiring. They’d only started being able to rehire much needed positions when the city decided to impose another hiring freeze. I doubt cleaners make more than drivers, but how many do they actually have? Certainly not enough to cover the entire fleet, obviously.
    Some special funding was used last year to hire fare inspectors (a couple supervisors to manage them) and they doubled the number of fare evaders that got caught. The tickets more than paid for their salaries, but the city’s draconian cost savings measures have put a cap on hiring so no more fare inspectors.
    Bus drivers are the one exception to the freeze, which means we may have more busses, but no extra help to clean them or more importantly maintain them.

  8. Raise all fares, on busses, F line PCCs and LRVs, to $2.00. Do not have any “extra” fee for cash paying riders. Put in ticket machines at heavy loading stops, i.e. the Ferry Building outbound and Pier 39 inbound. Hire more Transit Police to check people on the LRVs who board, on street level, thru rear doors, with out paying their fare. A $2.50 fare, only on the F line, is uncalled for, in my opinion!! You also need to increase the cost of passes, one day and three day. I come back to SF, I was raised there, as offen as I can. I love riding the F line PCCs. A one day pass is the way I do just that!!

  9. The F line is only one of 4 routes that I know of that goes to The Wharf from Downtown and one is the Cable Car. That and it is the only above ground line that goes from downtown to the heart of the castro. So because it is the only non special service (Not to say the cars themselves aren’t special) from one district to the next a “Special” fare is unjustifyable. That and there are NO BUS LINES on Market west of Haight. That leave NUMEROUS blocks of Non-Coverage by MUNI. That make the F line a nececity not a convienence and must remain at the bus rate.

  10. I don’t see a premium fair for the F-Line being worth the trouble. For all the reasons mentioned, but I also suspect a sizable share of the F-Line ridership is either using a fastpass or day pass like Dennis does.
    I’ve met plenty of people who choose to take the F-Line over the subway because it’s more scenic, fun, or stops a few blocks closer to where they’re going. If the subway were now cheeper, it would shift some of the ridership off the surface and could put more strain on Muni Metro. I suspect there’s likely to a small group of semi-regular F-Line riders who don’t find it cost effective now to buy a fastpass now, but for whom a higher F-Line fare would be the tipping point to get one.
    I doubt the extra revenue brought in through a higher fare on the F-Line would make up for the negative impacts it would have on the rest of the system. The cutesy nature of the historic streetcars might make it seem like a novelty, but the F-Line is not just a slower redundant service to Muni Metro.
    One of the other options on the table, which we didn’t mention in our post, is a $10 premium for Muni + BART fastpasses. I think this has a lot more potential even though the same could probably be said for the Mission bus lines being a different service than BART. The TEP (a three year project that’s been studying how to redesign Muni’s routes) has found that there is a lot of demand for better limited and express bus service and has drawn up plans to revamp and beef up Mission service.

  11. I can’t believe how overpaid and incompetent the MUNI administration is! First the overpriced Culture Bus, then this….

  12. “I don’t see a premium fair for the F-Line being worth the trouble. […] If the subway were now cheeper, it would shift some of the ridership off the surface and could put more strain on Muni Metro.”
    It’s interesting that someone who supposedly works for Muni can’t even spell “fare” and “cheaper” correctly.

  13. @ Anonymous — he doesn’t work for Muni, he is a volunteer (as am I) for the F-line support group, Marrket Street Railway, which runs this blog.

  14. What’s interesting about my misspellings? I’m not the only dyslexic person on this planet who has trouble with spelling english words. Since it’s not relevant to the discussion at hand (you were able to understand them, correct?) why bothering pointing it out except as a lame attempt to undermine my credibility or on the SFMTA itself. If you have an problem with any of my points, my reasoning, or you want to go after the SFMTA, give us a real argument.
    As for my employment, I am a freelance interaction designer and sit on the Market Street Railway board of directors as well as the SFMTA Citizen’s Advisory Council where I also sit on the Engineering. Maintenance and Safety and chair the Planning and Marketing Committee. I spend a good deal of time advocating without pay for transit and Muni riders.

  15. I disagree with “anonymous.” If the MUNI Metro were cheaper, it WOULD NOT get more people off the surface and into the metro subway. Some people, like me, don’t like to ride underground. I grew up there riding the streetcars and I still enjoy riding them. Maybe someone is just going a short distance and there may not be a metro stop nearby, so they just stay on the surface. As I said here before, raise all the fares across the board to, at least, $2.00 and raise the daily and three day pass fares as well. Here in San Diego, a one way trip, on the SD Trolley is $2.50. But you can buy an all day pass, good on the trolley and busses, for the cost of a round trip, $5.00. The last time I was in Honolulu, a few years ago, the one ride fare, on their “The Bus” system was $2.00 and it has been voted the best bus system many years now. It’s great!! Maybe MUNI could learn from them.

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