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Release date: 2/26/10

*** Press Release ***

The Board of Directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates the Municipal Railway (Muni) and all surface transportation in San Francisco, today took action to address a current year deficit of at least $12.1 million. The deficit could rise if budget solutions such as taxi medallion sales and overtime reductions are not realized.

Among other actions, the Board approved requiring use of the $70 “A” Fast Pass on cable cars and express buses, increasing parking fines by $2 to cover a state courthouse fee and reducing Muni service by 10 percent by reducing the frequency on most Muni routes and lines and ending some service earlier.

“We deeply regret the need to move forward on these difficult actions,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “The solutions are painful, but we are committed to working with our community partners to make the Agency stronger in the long run.”

Scores of Muni customers and community advocates attended today’s meeting. Most of the public comment focused on the speakers’ objections to the proposed increase in the discount pass. The Board of Directors did not approve a proposal to increase the monthly pass for seniors, youth and people with disabilities to $30, with SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan citing the “very compelling case” made in “very touching” testimony by numerous people who attended the meeting. The monthly pass is set to go from $15 to $20 on May 1 in an action taken by the Board and not rejected by the Board of Supervisors last spring.

In a pair of 4-3 votes the Board approved a set of solutions totaling $14.4 million in revenue increases and expenditure reductions in recognition of the ongoing uncertainty around some budget line items. The 10 percent cut in Muni service will result in the Agency eliminating about 230 positions, mostly through layoffs (including more than 175 Muni Operators). Muni service reductions and layoffs are expected to take effect on May 1.

In addition to the $2 citation increase, the Board also approved an increase in some parking garage rates and an increase to the Residential Parking Permit fee from $76 to $96 annually to fully recover the program’s costs. The Board also approved measures to reduce and eliminate free City employee parking (including SFMTA employee parking) and free parking at City garages.

Last spring the SFMTA, like almost all transit agencies in the United States, faced an unprecedented budget deficit because of the global and national recession. The sizeable City budget deficit and the elimination of transit operations funding by the State of California contributed to a deficit of $128.9 million for the fiscal year that began last July 1. The largest contributing factor to the deficit has been the loss of state funding for transit operations; almost $180 million has been lost in the last three fiscal years.

To balance its deficit last spring, the SFMTA increased revenue by almost $52 million while reducing expenditures by more than $77 million by eliminating positions and finding internal efficiencies.  The SFMTA also approved a reduction in Muni service, though the SFMTA worked with the Board of Supervisors to fund service enhancements on some of the busiest Muni routes and lines.

Once the fiscal year began, it became evident that the budget was not balanced.  Last November, the SFMTA identified a $45 million ongoing shortfall and began to address it immediately through overtime reductions, vendor payment reductions and position eliminations, including layoffs.

Significant budget deficits continue to be projected for FY 2011 and 2012. The Board of Directors will meet at noon on Tuesday, March 2 to consider solutions for the approximately $53 million deficits projected for each of the next two years. The Board will also consider questions posed to staff at today’s meeting on Tuesday. Today’s meeting was recessed to Tuesday’s meeting (rather than adjourned) to allow the Board the ability to revisit issues raised at today’s meeting.

The SFMTA Board also at its meeting today approved a framework for a pilot program to sell up to 60 taxi medallions; $11.2 million is budgeted from taxi reform in the current fiscal year.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend future meetings on the next two-year budget cycle. The next several Board meetings will cover solutions to those deficits and two town hall meetings have been scheduled on the FY11 and FY12 budgets.

Updated Schedule of Public Meetings on SFMTA Budget

SFMTA Board Meetings (Room 400, City Hall)

FY 2011/ FY 2012 Focus

Tuesday, March 2 – Noon (and continuation from Feb. 26 of FY 2010 issues)

Tuesday, March 30 – 2 p.m.

Tuesday, April 6 – 2 p.m. (possible Board action)

Tuesday, April 20 – 2 p.m. (possible Board action)

SFMTA Town Hall Meetings (1 South Van Ness Ave., 2nd Floor Atrium)

FY 2011/ FY 2012 Focus

Wednesday, March 10 – 6 p.m.

Saturday, March 20 – 10 a.m.

Those who would like to comment and cannot attend one of the meetings are asked to send an e-mail to or call 311.

For additional information, including presentations from today’s Board meeting, please visit the SFMTA budget page:

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