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Release date: 4/17/09
*** Press Release ***
Difficult Decisions Ahead as SFMTA Board of Directors Considers Position Eliminations, Service Reductions and Fare Increases to Close Unprecedented $128.9 million Budget Deficit
San Francisco—As a result of the global economic downturn, a national recession, the elimination of state funding for transit operations and a City budget deficit approaching a half billion dollars, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is facing an unprecedented budget deficit of $128.9 million for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2009. Until April 30, when the SFMTA Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on a plan to balance the budget, the public is encouraged to provide input at public meetings and by telephone, e-mail or regular mail.
“There is no doubt that this budget deficit will require us to make tough choices that we do not take lightly,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “We are working hard to balance the budget in a way that will allow us to provide the highest possible quality of service to all of our transportation customers.”
On Tuesday, April 7, the SFMTA Board of Directors held a public hearing at their regularly scheduled meeting on the budget-balancing proposals under consideration. The proposals represent a recognition that the SFMTA must find internal savings through position eliminations and furloughs (even though such savings affect service) during a time when SFMTA customers face possible service reductions and higher charges.
SFMTA staff drafted three possible comprehensive options for Muni service reductions and modifications. The three options were developed based on ridership data, performance measures and customer feedback and include the elimination of routes and segments of routes as well as both decreased and increased service frequencies. Where possible, alternative service has been identified and will be improved to make up for reduced service. The service changes would likely take effect this September if adopted.
Among the numerous fare, fee, fine and rate increases proposed are one to raise the single ride cash fare by 50 cents to $2 beginning July 1, 2009 and another to increase the price of an Adult Fast Pass to $60 as of January 1, 2010 (a previously approved fare increase will raise the Adult Fast Pass rate from $45 to $55 on July 1, 2009). Increased parking meter rates and hours of operation are also under consideration.
The April 7 board meeting also included a public hearing on a possible declaration of “fiscal emergency,” which would meet the requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for any service reductions or fare increases that are implemented to balance the budget. The SFMTA will respond to comments that were received by April 10 on the possible declaration and the SFMTA Board is scheduled to vote on it on Tuesday, April 21. It is important to note that a declaration of fiscal emergency does not by itself implement service reductions or changes to fares, fees, fines, rates and charges that support transit service. The SFMTA last declared a fiscal emergency in 2005.
An updated budget balancing plan will be presented to the Board on Tuesday at the next public hearing. A vote on the budget is slated for a special meeting of the SFMTA Board on April 30 (see below for details on these meetings). Following the SFMTA Board of Directors’ submittal of an Amended Operating Budget to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors as required on May 1, the Board of Supervisors has 30 days to allow it to take effect or to reject the entirety of the Amended Budget with seven or more votes.
For more information on the proposed budget-balancing options, including extensive details on service reductions and fare and other increases as well as the proposed declaration of “fiscal emergency,” please visit www.sfmta.com/sfmtabudget or call 311.
Public hearings and an information meeting will be held as follows:
In addition to encouraging attendance at upcoming meetings, the SFMTA requests public feedback on the budget balancing options and proposed service reductions and modifications via:
NOTE: All written comments on the declaration of a fiscal emergency that was included on the Board’s April 7 agenda had to have been received at the SFMTA by Friday, April 10 in order for the SFMTA to respond to them at the April 21 meeting.
Copies of the service reduction and modification proposals are available at the SFMTA, One South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor Reception and at the Main Library, 100 Larkin Street. Members of the public seeking details on these proposals in languages other than English should call 311.
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