Friday, October 10, 2014

Vote No on Proposition A

SF Examiner photo

The folks at Save Muni send this message:

$500 million bond measures are rare, but Prop A squanders the opportunity.

SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) has already wasted billions of dollars while cutting Muni service in every neighborhood. Now Prop A incurs $1 billion in new debt (principal plus interest) with no legal commitment to Muni projects, cutting more buses in neighborhoods while raising property taxes and rents. If new bonds are rejected, property taxes and rents would decrease for everyone, not just for rich companies and the wealthy.

SFMTA annual budgets have increased but Muni riders get only service cuts.

Increased overhead, project cost overruns and mismanagement take money from the entire Muni system, causing Muni service cuts in every neighborhood.

Budget Type
SFMTA Budgets
SFMTA Overhead
City Budgets

Prop A perpetuates the bad projects, bad decision-making, cost overruns and mismanagement that have wasted billions of dollars given by taxpayers.

Prop E (1999) created the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) with more powers, more General Fund dollars and an 85% on-time performance mandate. Instead, Muni falsified on-time data and paid bonuses to its Director. Today Muni’s current on-time compliance rate is only 60.6%.

Prop K (2003) extended the transportation sales tax and prioritized projects. The Central Subway’s listed cost of $647 million escalated to $1.6 billion. The citywide Transit-Preferential Streets Program and Bus Rapid Network were never implemented.

Prop A (2007) gave SFMTA more funding authority, revenue-bond-authority and even more General Fund dollars. Instead, work orders sent the new funds to other city departments.

Prop B (2011) provided a Road Repaving Bond of $248 million, with interest of $181 million, for a total debt of $429 million. Debt isn’t efficient for maintenance.

Central Subway: $1.6 billion cost includes $605 million in state/local matching funds taken from the rest of the Muni system. New cost overruns will take more state/local dollars from the Muni system.

Increased budgets have been given to SFMTA by escalating annual budgets, federal, state, and local funds, transportation taxes, fares, fees, fines, citations and more. But the SFMTA has mismanaged the money.

Project cost overruns will continue to eat up SFMTA bonds and budgets.

The only independent audit of Muni projects, by CGR Consultants in 2011, concluded that nearly all Muni capital projects have large cost overruns. Projected Central Subway cost overruns will perpetuate the decline of maintenance and infrastructure. AUDIT: See Pages 18-19.

A Whistleblower’s Complaint, filed by the Central Subway’s Cost Engineer, alleges a cooking of the books and hidden cost overruns.

Prop A does not restore past Muni service cuts.

Muni has cut service in every neighborhood, decreased annual vehicle revenue miles/hours, eliminated 6 bus lines, shortened 22 routes, deferred maintenance, increased missed runs/switchbacks/late buses, increased fares/fees/fines/meters (1,549,518 parking citations yearly). Muni has already cut cross-town routes, night service and route frequency, hurting the low-income, families, disabled, youth and seniors. Eliminated bus lines will not be restored: Lines 4, 7, 15, 20, 26, 53, 89. Shortened bus routes will not be restored: Lines 1, 2, 10, 12, 16X, 18, 21, 29, 36, 38, 48, 67, 88, 91, 10.

Prop A perpetuates Muni service cuts in neighborhoods.

Prop A’s Transit Effectiveness Project will perpetuate cuts of neighborhood Muni service in favor of “high-use” corridors---decreasing neighborhood buses, cutting frequency/bus stops and shortening/eliminating routes.

Prop A’s vague legal language means more diversion of funds.

Prop A’s Ordinance does not specifically say how funds are to be spent or what part of the funds will be allocated to vague descriptions of work. “May be allocated” instead of “shall be allocated” legal language.

Prop A’s Ordinance refers to the Mayor’s Transportation Task Force, but the Report’s funding plan allocates only 49% of funds to Muni.

Prop A’s Ordinance refers to the Transit Effectiveness Project, which diverts neighborhood Muni service to “high-use” corridors, dismantling transit neighborhood networks.

Prop A’s funds can be diverted to non-Muni projects and other projects’ cost overruns, like the Central Subway, which itself has already taken $605 million of state/local dollars from the Muni system.

P. 3-5: The Ordinance’s legal language makes no commitment to any specific work: “Projects to be funded under the proposed Bond may include but are not limited to the following...” For eight project types: “A portion of the Bond may be allocated to…” Everywhere else in the Ordinance “shall” is used.

Smarter use of existing and future funds!

Reject this bond measure! From the surging City Budget ($8.6 billion this year), allocate General Fund dollars to Muni’s operating and maintenance budgets. Instead of new bond debt, use the $500 million savings in debt interest to implement 2003 Prop K’s transit-preferential streets---quicker and cheaper. Before unproductive debt, let’s reverse Prop A’s policy of Muni cuts in neighborhoods. Then SFMTA should work from a carefully-developed plan to solve San Francisco’s most critical transportation needs---prior to new bonds. SFMTA should not be doling out $500 million haphazardly to politically-connected groups and to hide mistakes of the past. Vote No on A!

Muni has fewer riders now than it did a decade ago---the only major transit agency to lose customers among the nation’s top six transit districts. San Francisco’s modal trip shares are 20 percent by transit, 24 percent by walking, 3 percent by bicycle and 53 percent by automobile. By dismantling Muni’s neighborhood networks, Prop A further encourages driving, then SFMTA penalizes drivers with more citations/fees/fines/parking elimination. To move San Francisco towards the 60% transit trip shares of the world’s top transit agencies, an integrated citywide Muni system is needed.

MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: Implementation of Zurich’s Transit Priority Program

“Zurich is famous for the quality of its public transportation system and it has one of the highest levels of per capita transit ridership in the world. This is because its transit service is fast, frequent, reliable and inexpensive due in large part to its transit priority program.”

ENDORSEMENTS: Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (45 neighborhood organizations), San Francisco Tomorrow, Chinese American Democratic Club, Irish American Democratic Club, District 3 Democratic Club, District 11 Democratic Club, San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco, Libertarian Party of San Francisco, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF), SaveMuniSF, A Better ChinatownTomorrow (ABCT), Save North Beach Village, North Beach Tenants Committee, Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF), Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret., Chairman, California Senate Transportation Committee), Bruce Oka (Former SFMTA Board of Directors)

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