Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Sign the petition against the Central Subway


Everyone should re-scrutinize the Central Subway in light of growing Muni deficits and cutbacks. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) hasn’t granted final approval, and Congress has a mandated 60-day review period. Instead, let’s shift hundreds of millions of dollars into citywide Muni.


San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) held five Town Hall Budget Meetings, at which its Director laid out a financial crisis, $25.4 billion in capital needs over twenty years and the lack of funds to maintain a state-of-good-repair. Within the current fiscal year, the SFMTA budget deficit has grown to $29 million---on top of projected deficits of $19.6 million in 2012 and $33.6 million in 2013. SFMTA had already projected $1.6 billion in budget deficits over twenty years, as well as $1.9 billion in deferred maintenance. 

With more threatened service cuts and fare/fee increases, rider frustration has caused growing opposition to the Central Subway. 

EXAMINER OP-ED:  “Stop costly overhyped Central Subway
The Central Subway means more Muni service cuts and fare/fee increases. The Central Subway Project has drained over $500 million of state and local funding from the citywide Muni system. Facing perennial budget deficits, SFMTA threatens more service cuts and fare/fee increases---after cuts/increases in 2009 and 2010. While Muni infrastructure crumbles and service crawls, Muni’s $1.9 billion in deferred maintenance and $25.4 billion in capital needs are a disaster waiting to happen.

The PROP K 2003 transportation sales tax revenue has higher, legally-mandated citywide Muni priorities than the Central Subway.

Instead of the short, 1.7 mile Central Subway, hundreds of miles of Transit Preferential Streets can be created with the Central Subway’s existing state/local funds, benefiting all Muni riders, taxpayers and neighborhoods. 

With its unique character, Mediterranean-scale, geographic beauty and topographic splendor, San Francisco’s northeast quadrant is a natural pedestrian realm. The distance from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf is one and ½ miles. Columbus Avenue is one mile long. Washington Square is one mile from the Powell BART/Metro Station. Chinatown is ½ mile from Market Street. As seen in cities throughout the world, these are distances opportune for a pulsating street life. From an urban planning perspective, robust pedestrian and surface transit assures wider economic vitality, with very efficient costs and more immediate jobs. 

The Central Subway’s own reports depict an abysmal project.

The California Public Utilities Commission cites pervasive Muni safety Issues: 
From the 3-6-12 SFMTA Board Agenda: “Conference with Legal Counsel: Existing Litigation---Investigation into the Operations, Practices and Conduct of the SFMTA Regarding Ongoing Public Safety Issues, California Public Utilities Commission, I. 11-02-017, Issued on 2/24/2011.”

“The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today began penalty considerations based on CPUC staff allegations of pervasive safety concerns regarding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's (SFMTA or Muni) light rail system. This action was taken after CPUC safety inspectors found numerous safety violations on Muni's light rail system in San Francisco. In their report to the CPUC, the inspectors have alleged that SFMTA has been chronically unresponsive to alleged violations and other findings.”

If you’re a regular Muni rider, you know that delays are common on weekday commutes to and from work. You might not know, however, that San Francisco’s transportation agency has routinely fallen short on safety inspections for the past year and a half, according to a report released this week by the California Public Utilities Commission.

If the Central Subway were truly a sound transportation project, then politicians, public officials and lobbyists wouldn’t be needed to twist the arms of the public and decision-makers. A multi-million dollar media campaign has pitched the Central Subway like snake oil and subprime derivatives, using Muni funds to lobby Muni’s own customers, governing bodies and officials. 

“Money Follows Controversy: The top ten clients who promised payments for lobbying surfaces some of the most controversial issues at City Hall. California Pacific Medical Center promised the most in payments for lobbying, at $750,985. Aecom, which is leading the Central Subway and other projects, ranked second at $360,000. Third was Millennium Partners, also at $360,000.”

“His [former Mayor Willie Brown] law firm represents prominent clients, among them Aecom, an engineering firm involved in San Francisco’s central subway project, and the California Online Poker Association.”

“CCDC [Chinatown Community Development Center] also gets a juicy subcontract related to the Central Subway project, including $30,000 a month to spend on ‘community outreach’.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: “The Billion-Dollar-A-Mile Subway” 
While the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is evaluating the Central Subway project, the FTA Administrator defended the project in the Wall Street Journal---responding to an editorial that blasted the subway boondoggle. The conflict of interest is worsened by transit data that show the Central Subway decreasing transit service levels and travel times for tens of thousands of riders. 

Instead of Muni service cutbacks, fare/fee increases and crumbling infrastructure, imagine how the Central Subway's hundreds of millions of dollars in existing state/local funds could revitalize the citywide Muni System.

Join with SaveMuni.com in lobbying and informing Washington and Sacramento: Sign the petition against the Central Subway. 

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