Blog » transit
- February 27, 2010BY BEN LOWE
In response to the looming budget deficits faced by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf today sent a letter to the MTA outlining a set of measures that could balance the budget this year and next, while avoiding service cuts and fare hikes. The twenty-eight proposals include a diverse range of ideas including hiring part-time operators ($6 million in savings), routing 311 information calls to 511 ($5.5 million), and enforcing existing parking regulations around city facilities ($1.3 million). The proposals, if adopted, would save MTA more than $104 million over the next two years.
[Image: flickr user cbcastro]
These 28 proposals are not the only methods that could be implemented to immediately close the MTA budget deficit. Metcalf also has noted the changes that must be made to the work rules under which Muni drivers currently operate, most recently in an open letter to the Transit Workers Union:
“[Problematic work rules] include: drivers not having to let their managers know how long they will be absent from work, making it impossible to set schedules; drivers earning overtime pay before actually working 40 hours a week; and perhaps most significantly, a set of rules that makes it virtually impossible to hire part time drivers. Currently, Muni is forced by the work rules to pay drivers at full hourly rates to sit around between the morning and afternoon peaks. That rule costs MTA about $11 million each year.”
As reported by Streetsblog, SPUR is working with SF Supervisor Sean Elsbernd to draft a measure that would revise the City Charter to have Muni drivers collectively bargain for pay and benefits, giving the City stronger footing to address these work rules.
As Metcalf said in his letter to the MTA, “none of these budget solutions will be easy, but we believe all of them are realistic. They would begin to set up the MTA for growth rather than contraction in providing transit service to San Francisco.”
- February 19, 2010BY BEN LOWE
Public transportation gets millions of Americans to and from their jobs every day. Transportation for America, a national public-transit and smart-growth advocacy organization, thinks investing in our transportation sector can create jobs as well. In response to the jobs bill now working its way through the Senate, which would largely offer tax cuts to small businesses, T4A has proposed instead that funding be put toward projects such as:
- $16 billion for transit
- $8.1 billion for the Surface Transportation Program (highways)
- $9.8 billion for competitive grants, such as TIGER grants
- $1.5 billion for bike and pedestrian facilities to make walking and biking safer and more attractive.
The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute agrees that the T4A plan would be effective. EPI has stated that such projects would spur significant job creation, particularly among the economically disadvantaged and those without higher education.
As Bay Area transit-and-smart-growth advocate TransForm recently reported, areas well-served by good transportation options, specifically public transit, help to significantly reduce transportation costs for their residents. If funding is used wisely, a transportation-focused jobs bill could therefore create and save jobs while repairing crumbling infrastructure and keeping money out of gas tanks and in our local economy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reportedly working on a range of jobs-stimulus legislation, and may yet see the connection between getting the job market moving, and getting Americans where they want to go on America’s sidewalks, bike paths, and roads.