Muni Budget Reaction; Larry Mazzola and Unions …

by on May 4, 2009

To the Editor:

I just called my Supervisor’s office, urging him to vote No on this moronic MTA budget. MTA isn’t interested in serving the needs of public transit-dependent riders such as myself. The MTA “brain trust” needs to be publicly slapped down hard. Treating captive public transit riders as fiscal low-hanging fruit is the stupid and lazy answer to solving San Francisco’s fiscal woes.

Peter Wong
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I am one of those who lobbied to save the #39 Coit ,the two steep Union Street blocks of it that is. I am not rich, and do not live on Telegraph Hill. We had to lobby twice, once in the fall and again last month. To set the record straight, Claudine Cheng did not organize my efforts though she certainly contributed; Gail Switzer, who lives on Telegraph Hill, did both times. The elephant in MTA’s boardroom is the $1.5B Central Subway, in particular the $10M earmark for it received in March. MTA could use that money to plug their deficit. They could if necessary use the excuse of “borrowing”the money,since the Subway is now delayed 2 years.

Joan Wood
San Francisco

To the Editor:

While I agree with much in Paul Hogarth’s article on the MUNI budget, I take exception to his statement “Muni saved the 39-Coit because enough rich people complained.” The Seniors and those with disabilities who wrote or came to the MTA Board’s meetings to support the full #39 route, were not the rich people on the hill. The rich people take their cars or taxis. It was those low income seniors or disabled who rely on that leg of the bus to get out of their homes and perform their daily activities. The small amount cutting the route would have saved MUNI was clearly not worth the suffering it would have caused those who rely on the bus, and I thank the Board members for recognizing this. In addition, many of the neighbors on the Hill are working with MTA staff, other city departments and other neighborhood groups to help MUNI improve ridership on the bus. I wish those who don’t have the facts would stop picking on our little bus.

Gail Switzer
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I agree with many of the conclusions in this article. I wonder, however, why the author is so intent to conflate parking fees with the muni budget. The fact that these two (quit unrelated) things are de facto linked is itself one of the causal factors responsible for the bureaucratic mismanagement of everything this city is responsible for.

In essence, Muni seeking to pay for bus fares by hiking parking rates is just using car drivers and their parking spaces as a “dumping ground” for Muni’s inability to pay its bills, which is really just a perpetuation of the cycle that was initiated when Muni began to be used as an “ATM” by other unrelated city functions.

Parking meter fees should help keep the roads paved. Buses should be payed for with their own fares. The two should be kept distinct. Each city service should be run as a business, and unrelated functions (like parking and busses) should be run by separate entities as separate businesses.

First, the idea of raising parking meter rates, extended them to 10:00 p.m., and also on Sunday, is just the kind of negative incentive that the city needs to stop attempting to impose upon its residents. If people should be busing more and driving less, the first step is to fix Muni so that it is actually usable for professionals who commute (the vast majority of whom drive currently). In contrast, making it harder and more expensive to drive while Muni remains broken is merely adding insult to injury.

Sure, Muni does get money and could get more money from parking meters. But it shouldn’t. As long as every service is pooled together as common assets and business ventures of “The City,” one service will always be the “dumping ground” of another, and no service will ever operate efficiently within the parameters that the market allows.

Take a look at public transport in London. The underground is owned by the government, but operated as its own business (quite distinct from other unrelated functions of public transport). And it works brilliantly.

As long as King Newsom and his successors have complete unilateral control over every city function, this problem will not end. Once again, each service must be managed by an agency answerable only to its own success or failure. This is how proper incentives for success are created.

Marshall Eubanks

To the Editor:

These fare hikes are unconscionable and it will again fall on the backs of the poor. Many senior and disabled folks have no choice and cannot decide to walk that mile. They are planning an unheard of 50% hike for senior and disabled passes!!!!

BART also hits senior and disabled folks with a double whammy – they raise the price of those cards, but each trip cost is higher as well. MUNI used to be so wonderful until we started hiring the likes of Michael Burns. They were happy to see him go in Philly, and then we hired him!?!?! And now Santa Clara has hired him with his record? Santa Clara deserves what they get.

But the poor in SF should not have to cover the City’s mismanagement, no way!!!!!

Terrrie Frye
San Francisco

To the Editor:

It’s sad to have one neighborhood pitted against another, much less class distinctions. Correction: The 39-Coit Bus’ proposed cut was the 4-block leg on steep Union Street — from Washington Square to the dead-end blocks at Montgomery St. The remainder of the 39-Coit was never considered for elimination. The single Union St. block from Kearny to Montgomery Sts. is 425 feet at 1:4 slope.

Of all the proposed emergency changes in MTA\’s Options 1, 2 & 3, the 39-Coit Bus is the ONLY full-service line that has NO “Alternative Service.” Seniors/ disabled, many on fixed incomes and not wealthy, would have been stranded. Moreover, North Beach’s entire 20-Columbus Bus is slated for elimination. We’re all feeling the transit pain.

Howard Wong
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Suffice it to say that Larry Mazolla Jr. insults San Franciscans by taking advantage of their natural forgetfulness due to the too many propositions on the ballots. Watchdogs like Randy Shaw, fortunately, will remind us of the dirty trail Mazolla and the bankrupt pseudo-uinon, the Plumbers, are and were up to.

Did Mazolla stand at 6 A.M. in the cold in the picket line during Hotel workers lock-out? NO. Chris Daly did.

The Plumbers Union is the example par excellence of what is wrong with some unions, they take for granted how the got where they are. They take for granted that ONLY solidarity is the guarantor of Unions strength. Unions can never match the purse and the political might of Business. Plumber Union is used by the Chamber of Commerce which once the time comes they will deliver the death blow. Plumbers should look at Detroit and take stock.

Nafiss Griffis
San Francisco

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