$6 F-Line Fare an Option in New SFMTA Budget

Despite strong and successful opposition the first time they tried it four years ago, the budget crafters at SFMTA, Muni’s parent agency, are back with proposals to uncouple the F-line fare from the basic Muni fare and raise it between 50% and 300%.

At tomorrow’s SFMTA Board of Directors meeting (2 p.m., Room 400, City Hall), a proposed budget will be introduced that includes two different F-line fare increases: one to add a dollar to the current base cash fare of $2; the other to TRIPLE the F-line fare to match the cable car fare, currently $6.

In 2010, Market Street Railway was joined in strong opposition by the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro, the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, and other groups to protest this fare increase. We expect those groups will join us again, as soon as they learn of the proposal. You can read the agenda item containing the budget details; The F-line items are on page 7.

We have already voiced our strong opposition to SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, and will do the same to SFMTA Board members. If you would like to protest, you can email the board members.

A significant change in operations since the 2010 proposal is the abolition of the paper Muni fast pass and the use of Clipper Cards. The staff seems to assume that residents who use Clipper Cards all buy the monthly Muni-wide pass, which does, and would still, include the F-line. Thus, the argument goes, residents wouldn’t be paying that cash fare; only tourists would. This is a false argument because a large percentage of San Franciscans load their Clipper Cards on a per-ride basis, not the monthly Muni pass, which is only worthwhile for people who commute daily.
They would get charged the higher fare on their Clipper Cards.

Additionally, the higher cash fare amounts to discrimination against riders in Upper Market and along The Embarcadero, for whom the F-line is the only form of surface transportation available to the destinations they seek. This includes low-income workers at Wharf restaurants and hotels, who lost alternative Muni service to downtown a couple of years ago in cutbacks.
SFMTA staff acknowledges that the target here is tourists, just as it was with the higher cable car fares. If F-line fares are raised to match the cable cars, a family of four going to The Exploratorium or the Wharf from conventions or hotels downtown would face a round-trip fare of almost $50, whether they took the cable cars or the F-line. Today, a family of four can ride the F-line round trip for $11 in cash fares ($2 for adults, 75 cents for children). It’s worth noting that other new revenue alternatives include increases in the children’s and senior cash fares for all Muni service. Also proposed are additional increases in Muni Passports, providing 1, 3, or 7 days worth of unlimited rides.

We believe that it’s wrong to single out visitors for disproportionate fares. It has the effect of discouraging Bay Area people from coming to the City on weekends to shop and play. For these people, BART, Caltrain, and the regional services should be offering LOWER fares on weekends, when they have extra capacity, to encourage them to leave their cars at home. But if the SFMTA is determined to get an extra pound of flesh from visitors, it would be better to raise the Muni Passports a little higher, instead of penalizing the thousands of San Franciscans who use the F-line every day for basic Muni service.

We’ll keep you up to date on the status of this proposal. Meanwhile, make your voice heard.