In Muni’s last budget go-round, staff proposed raising F-line fares to $5 per ride, to match the cable cars. That proposal disappeared quickly after SFMTA Board members told Executive Director/CEO Nat Ford it was a non-starter as far as they were concerned.
But now it’s back as part of a new round of budget balancing (downloadable here — SFMTA-FY-2010-Budget-Projections-and-Solutions-1-19-2010.pdf) that would also make it more expensive for Fast Pass holders to ride cable cars and express buses, and cut service levels on every Muni bus line (but not Muni Metro or the F-line).
Though the document was made public late this Friday afternoon, the proposal has already been subjected to scathing criticism by readers of transit blogs, such as sf.streetsblog.org, where reader DT wrote, “Tinkering with the F Market is ludicrous. Due to the service cuts in
December, the ONLY way I can get to my dentist’s office is via the F.”
Jim Wilson/The New York Times photo.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Muni staff believes they can uncouple F-line fares from other streetcar and bus lines by trying to paint the F as a tourist line “like the cable cars.” But as the reader DT points out, previous service cuts make the F-line the only transit in the Golden Gateway neighborhood, as well as the only local service on Upper Market, where it can be a long walk to Metro stations (presuming Metro is working, of course). In short, it is a real transit line, but Muni staff want to portray it as something different.
The timing of this is ironic, given that earlier this week, Obama’s Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood (a Republican), announced a complete turnabout from Bush Administration policy on streetcars. The New York Times account of the news chose as its illustration a Milan tram on Upper Market Street (above, taken by Times photographer Jim Wilson) — exactly the kind of neighborhood trolley service La Hood is touting, and for which Muni staff now want to raise the fare 150%.
And how did La Hood himself describe this initiative? “We’ll finally be able to make the case for investing in popular streetcar projects and other transit systems that people want.” Gee, what a concept. Muni is the poster child for a popular streetcar line that people want. Uh oh. We better more-than-double the fare right away before that subversive idea — transit lines that people want — starts to catch on.
At the end of a meeting last week on another subject, Nat Ford offhandedly asked me what Market Street Railway’s reaction would be to a $5 F-line fare. I told him that if I were him, I’d be more concerned about the reaction of other F-line constituents, because the F-line’s support cuts across many communities in this town. Looks like we’re going to find out whether I was right.
We’ll be writing more on this in coming days and weeks (the final proposal is supposed to go to the SFMTA Board March 2), but let’s hear your views now. Five bucks for an F-line ride? Weigh in — not just with a yes or no, but why! Reminder: we don’t post personal attacks or profanity. This is the place to put forward your strongest logical arguments as to whether or not this makes sense.