Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dave Snyder: Muni cuts will force people to "switch to bikes"


I got a chuckle out of Dave Snyder's letter to the editor in yesterday's SF Chronicle (below in italics). Few people who read the Chronicle will know that for eleven years Snyder was executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. He was also the author of the failed---and illegal---city strategy to push the 500-page Bicycle Plan through the approval process.

Even though he's now on the Golden Gate Transit Authority's board of directors, Snyder never strays far from his obsession with bicycles.

...If these [Muni] service cuts go forward, many transit riders will have no other choice. By not joining so many major cities in charging for parking on Sundays, you're basically forcing people off the bus, and in this economy, they won't be rushing to spend thousands of dollars on an automobile. They'll switch to bikes. Not everybody can ride a bike: Support Sunday meters.

It's more likely that, in the wake of the Muni service cutbacks and higher fares, people who can afford it will just use their cars more instead of riding Muni. Those of us who have to rely on Muni and can't afford cars or can't/won't take up riding bikes will continue to ride Muni, even though it will cost us more and the buses will be more crowded.

Snyder is supposedly a transportation expert, but he thinks it would be great if we slowed down city traffic to the point where our streets would be safe for 8-year-olds to ride their bikes.

Looking at the numbers, it's hard to see how punishing city drivers with extended meter hours will do much to close MTA's $52.7 million budget deficit. The big study the city did on the issue (Extended Meter Hours Study, October 13, 2009) tells us that the "net annual revenue" for the city as a result of implementing the recommendations will only be $8,830,000. MTA's deficit is more than $51 million.

But what's remarkable about this study are some other numbers it contains that haven't been discussed yet. The total revenue collected by implementing the study's recommendations on extending parking meter hours would be $17,260,000. What happens to the other $8,430,000? It will go to "additional costs," including hiring 70 more city workers to implement the study's recommendations (page 32, "Table 9. Summary of Estimated Annual Costs and Revenues").

City drivers will be less than thrilled to learn that not only are they being soaked again, but that half the new revenue will go to making our already bloated city government even bigger! The city is now extracting more than $170 million a year from city drivers from parking meters, parking lots, and parking tickets.

Mayor Newsom has been understandably reluctant to embrace extending meter hours in SF because of the potential political shitstorm like the one that happened in Oakland last year.

Cuts could drive Muni riders to bicyclesI appreciated your editorial ("Fiscal collisions ahead," Feb. 1) bringing attention to the need to save Muni from devastating cuts, but you would do well to heed your own admonition intended for the Board of Supervisors that "not everybody can ride a bike."

That's true, but if these service cuts go forward, many transit riders will have no other choice. By not joining so many major cities in charging for parking on Sundays, you're basically forcing people off the bus, and in this economy, they won't be rushing to spend thousands of dollars on an automobile. They'll switch to bikes.

Not everybody can ride a bike: Support Sunday meters.

DAVE SNYDER
San Francisco

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