$55 Fast Pass proposed to offset Muni budget crisis
April 9, 2008 7:16 AM
Along with the rest of the city, SF State students riding Muni may see new cuts in service and raised Fast Pass prices in the next two years, due to the transportation agency’s need to address a budget crisis.
Increases in the price of the Fast Pass, currently $45, and discount passes for disabled riders and seniors, which are currently $10, were viewed as the least acceptable option by the Muni board, but facing an $82 million deficit in the next two years may demand that move, said board members present at the March 18 Municipal Transportation Agency meeting.
“I just think it’s really unfortunate because it already costs a lot,” said sophomore Katie West, 20. “Especially for students.”
Every day, the M-Oceanview light rail line and the 28 bus stops at 19th and Holloway Avenues in front of SF State drop off approximately 5,000 riders and pick up almost 6,000 riders, many of whom are students, according to the San Francisco Transit Effectiveness Project. The M line alone drops off 3,476 people a day and picks up 4,245; the 28 drops off 1,609 and picks up 1,487. The project is a joint endeavor of the Municipal Transportation Agency and the city Controller’s Office “to increase the effectiveness of the City’s Muni transit system,” according to its Web site.
At the March 18 meeting, MTA officials introduced propositions to the board for balancing the budget, including the possibility of raising the Fast Pass fees by $10 for 2009. The rate increase could bring in an additional $12 million, Muni spokesman Judson True said.
“I would like to do anything except raise the fares,” MTA Director Shirley Breyer Black said at the same meeting. “I’d hate to do it because it’s the people who have the least money who have to pay the raised fares.”
The board’s sentiment in March against raising the Fast Pass fees was notably appreciated by several speakers during the public comments, but the suggestion of an increase raised some public outcry.
“I think we’re looking at the wrong place to balance the budget,” San Francisco resident James Muszalski said during the public comments. “I think some of these over-bloated salaries, not just in this board or in this division, but in the city, need to be looked at and taken care of.”
SF State student Sari Storm, 21, said she doesn’t see the price increase as beneficial to the city.
“I think especially with gas prices rising, it would be very helpful to lower the Fast Pass prices,” she said.
Despite such statements from the public and the board, MTA officials again delivered their recommendations to raise frees at the April 1 meeting.
Among other tactics to increase revenue, MTA recommendations made on April 1 included more than half a dozen fee increases in various permits and violations for the 2008-2009 year. In addition Fast Pass, discount passes and parking meter rate increases were recommended for 2009-2010.
“For a year, that’s half of my summer tuition almost. I have to work more to pay it,” said freshman Amy Wong, 18.
A board decision is expected on April 15. MTA’s budget deadline is May 1.
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