Muni Fare Increase Induces Social Strike
Students mobilize to reverse extra cost
August 30, 2005 11:52 AM
On Sept. 1 Muni will increase its fare from $1.25 to $1.50, bringing student organizers from SF State to come together in an effort to persuade others to take part in a social strike.
Instead of trying to shut the transit system down, organizers say riders can take it over by refusing to pay the new fee.
Strike organizers said a social strike is a form of protest that will not cause any delay to commuters. Those participating will board buses and trains as usual, but without paying a fare. They might also choose to pay a partial fare or show drivers a “transfer flyer” that states, “Riders Don’t Pay, Drivers Don’t Collect.”
Geography major Jason Zimmerman has been organizing the strike at both a city-wide and campus level with the Adventure Club, a newly formed radical group on campus.
“The goal is to force a political crisis so that they [Muni officials] have to respond to the people,” Zimmerman said.”
He also noted the fare strike won’t stop until Muni reverses the fee increase as well as the service cuts and driver layoffs.
The main concern about the fare increase vocally expressed by the Coalition for Transit Justice is that with less drivers and buses, riders will end up paying more for less-adequate service.
Muni spokesperson Maggie Lynch could not be reached for comment, but recently told the San Francisco Bay Guardian the measures are “about keeping the service going.”
She stated those not paying “might veil their theft as a transit strike, but it’s stealing.”
Strike organizers disagree.
“Downtown businesses should be responsible in subsidizing Muni for bringing to their steps thousands of employees working for them,” geography major Joshua Alperin said.
History major Dave Carr is also part of the organizing group.
The Municipal Transportation Agency, Muni’s oversight commission, approved a series of measures last March as part of an attempt to alleviate a $57 million deficit. These measures were strongly criticized by transit advocates and community organizations.
Organizers point out Lynch said to the Bay Guardian that because of the deficit Muni won't be able to increase the presence of fare inspectors to deal with a potential fare strike.
In 2003 the agency raised its prices from $1 to $1.25, which was the first fare increase in almost a decade, Muni officials stated.
According to the Muni's official website "Traveling without a valid Proof of Payment
Several SF State students who commute by Muni regularly said they won’t be affected because they hold the Monthly Fast Pass, which will remain $45.
History major Adam Nelson is one of them. Although he doesn’t believe the fare strike will change anything, he agrees with the symbolic aspect of it.
“I would join the fare strike if I had to pay the new fare,” Nelson said.
Liberal studies major Ashley Shaw, who commutes three times a week form Concord, said she will take part in the protest.
“I have to concentrate on all my classes in fewer days because I can’t afford to pay so often the $12 it cost me to come to campus,” she said. “SF State should find a way to subsidize public transport for students. It’s about keeping education affordable.”
Environmental studies major Anjali Shrestha said she won’t participate because she commutes from Oakland where ACT [Alameda-Contra Costa Transit] already cost $1.50. The Muni fare increase won’t mean that much to her, and she doesn’t want to be caught without paying and end up late for class.
Kinesiology major Joe Wong has a different opinion. He admitted he probably won’t pay for his Muni fare “more to take advantage of the free ride.”
According to Carr, if organizers are optimistic about riders' participation to the strike, they can't foresee the response from Muni officials. He said the outcome will be “thought-provoking.”
“People will realize that they have the right to livable infrastructures and they can dare to speak out," Carr said.
Social Strike Legal Team (415) 285-1011
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