First up, the increases in fees:
The SFMTA released a PDF document of the possible changes to paying for transit and parking services. Here's my opinions on some of the craziest ideas:
- Charge a 50 cent fee for transfers. Are they just nuts? The bus drivers freely place the transfers on a rubber band attached to the farebox and people take them as they pay their fares. Most bus drivers don't even pay attention to the fare box and usually assume that people paid their full fare. Does this also mean when I pre-purchase a transfer for the ride back from the Giant's game that I will also pay the additional 50 cent fee, or since I just want to take one ride so I can transfer to BART (a much more reliable and trustworthy system) that I will not be charged this fee increase? Remember folks, over ten years ago, SFMTA eliminated transfers and the passengers revolted so loudly, that in six months, transfers returned.
- One huge question: If transfers will be 50 cents, then what is OFFICIAL PROOF OF PAYMENT for passengers who don't want a TRANSFER? What will Muni issue as POP to prevent you from getting a ticket for fare evasion? This means totally restructuring the POP program and printing new POP (non-transfer) tickets and passengers who don't want a transfer now has to carry a piece of paper that really makes no sense at all. Smart people may realize that they can carry this POP receipt, board a back door of another train or bus, and get away with "proof" when a fare inspector asks for a receipt.
- "Premium pass?" Well, they ripped-off my original idea, but why add express buses to the list as a "premium" service? BART and the Cable Cars are the true "premium" service. Plus, if I was carrying a regular (will now be known as "cheap") pass, what is the surcharge for riding the express? How about the 9X? People may just decide to enter from the rear door more often to avoid the premium charge.
- Extend parking meters to 10PM instead of the usual 6PM. Just how much more money will it cost DPT meter maids to patrol the meters that late (including vehicle maintenance)? Plus, I don't think the meter maids union will like the idea of forcing employees to work the night shift, when they could be at home eating dinner with their family.
- Sunday meter service? Not a bad idea for places like Irving street, but the question comes up again, how much more money will it cost for the meter maids to patrol on a Sunday? Plus, I depend on the fee-free meters on Sunday for major Japantown events due to my large amount of hours I volunteer there.
- Increase parking garage rates. I agree that some city owned garages could use a fee hike, but I disagree with raising fees on the already expensive garages, like the garage next to the Metreon and Westfield (SF Centre).
- Cutting out the Ocean Beach branch of the 38-Geary is a really bad idea. I have a feeling that by eliminating this route, they won't increase the number of 38L-Geary Limited and 38-Geary Ft. Miley branch vehicles. Each Richmond district terminal locations are at capacity; for example, the 38L's terminal can take up to three articulated 60 ft. buses at one time, and usually if there is a fourth one, it has to illegally park next to the Seal Rock Inn. Also, if they don't increase buses to make-up for the loss, the vehicles will get even more crowded, like insane crowded.
- Removing N-Judah service on the Embarcadero on weekends. Not bad, but does this mean a reduction in train service for the thousands of passengers leaving the baseball game and depending on Muni to get them to BART Embarcadero?
- 66-Quintara service eliminated west of 19th avenue? Then the route will only go ten city blocks, from 9th Avenue to 19th! That's too damn short.
- 18-46th Avenue service to follow possible eliminated 38-Geary Ocean Beach branch service is a really terrible idea. That line serves the Cliff House, and is the perfect connection for tourists to visit the Legion of Honor. Plus, the hills are so steep, the 18 is necessary for people who have disabilities or limited mobility. Also, forcing it to serve the Ocean Beach branch will make the route EVEN SLOWER (plenty of stop signs). The current 18 route is quick since it goes through traffic signals, very few stop signs, and drives on a main drag (Pt. Lobos/Geary). Hey Supervisor Eric Mar, the Richmond could really use your influential power to stop them from pulling this stunt.
- Shutting-off community service routes at 8:30PM. Being an SFSU employee, I think the 17-Parkmerced plays an important role, especially for students and faculty who work or study late and live within the Parkmerced and University Park North communities. The route may also be helpful for the Stonestown workers who live in one of these communities nearby the SFSU campus. Plus, if Muni metro service is unreliable, the 17 supplements service to SFSU and some of the M-Ocean View routes.
Some of my proposed solutions:
I keep emphasizing these ideas, but I'll focus on the best ones that will benefit everyone the most:
- Yes, the Culturebus service must be terminated immediately. The 5-Fulton does a decent job to serve the Culturebus stops, either nearby or just a short few minute walk.
- I previously proposed cutting the fare inspector force. Muni will terminate 28 fare inspector positions. That's a step in the right direction. Just remember to terminate the major assholes who piss the passengers off at every moment. Calm fare inspectors work better to not agitate the already pissed-off public who ride the crappiest service in town.
- Motorcycle meter rates must go up, they pay a super cheap rate for hours of parking, plus no short term limit of one hour.
- If they will charge for transfers, increase the time limit to two hours. Passengers get pissed at the fare inspectors when their transfer expires when they get stuck in the tunnel due to some unfortunate incident.
- Transfers should be FREE for passengers who ride the express buses and pay the so-called "premium" fee. AC Transit gives their Transbay passengers a free local AC bus transfer.
- Once the economy goes back up and there's more money for Muni, will this mean the return of the cut service? What promises will SFMTA/Muni back this up with? Do we need them to sign some covenants to make this official?
And my best solution ever...
GET TRANSLINK OUT IN FULL FORCE! If they do this, they can...
- Reduce printing costs on passes and transfers.
- Faster and efficient boarding of vehicles, meaning fewer delays and more reliable service.
- Reduce maintenance costs on the fareboxes.
- Reduce cost of sorting money and change.
- With BART planning to be on Translink in early June, make the proposed "premium" fast pass on Translink only. Express bus boarding is even faster, and BART doesn't have to mess with demagnetized Muni passes. Then, Muni only needs to print one type of pass, meaning less waste for the retailers who sell them.
- Stop printing token tickets. There are very few vendors who sell them, and only one takes Commuter Checks. Each token ticket costs the same as a regular fare, so Translink e-cash can easily replace it. Plus, Commuter Checks can be electronically transferred to your Translink account, therefore releasing the leash on riding only one transit agency.
- With all this effciency with Translink, Muni should offer a small incentive for cash payers. Say a 5 cent discount for full cash fares, and if they plan to charge for transfers, a 25 cent discount (25 cent transfer charge). Efficiency has its rewards.
Go to an SFMTA meeting or write to them. Click here to learn more.