Below are two letters to the editor, written in response to claims made by Muni's public relations flack Maggie Lynch, cited in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article. The Chronicle article was published on September 24, 2005, the day that Muni implemented its service cuts.
The Chronicle did not publish either letter. The shorter letter from David Tornheim was published in the San Francisco Examiner.
September 28, 2005
Muni's spokeswoman, Maggie Lynch, claims that despite recent service cuts, Muni is providing more service than six years ago. What she hides is that the increase was primarily to areas that are developing, but not to established neighborhoods such as the Western Addition. The schedules for our lines have been unchanged for over 10 years, and I have the old schedules to prove it.
David Tornheim, email@example.com
To the editor:
You can’t argue with Muni’s logic that cutting service will make it more reliable (“Reductions at Muni mean longer waits, fewer stops,” Sept. 24). If Muni ran one bus a day, they just might get that one bus to be on time. How practical is that?
The claim that riders will have to wait only an extra minute or two demonstrates that Muni officials rarely venture near their own buses. Each such delay makes a bus more crowded, which slows it down, which makes it even more crowded, which slows it more, and so on. Eventually, the bus becomes so packed it passes riders by, and a 10-15 minute wait becomes a 20-30 minute wait, hardly just an extra minute or two.
Muni’s Maggie Lynch also trots out that tired line about how cheap our fares are compared with, say, New York City. She fails to mention that San Francisco is just shy of 50 square miles, while NYC is a little over 300 square miles. Our fares are hardly one-sixth of New York’s. And saying that service is “above the levels of six years ago” is like bragging that you’ve stopped beating your wife.
Frank Jordan tried to kill Muni, and his days seem to be returning. When Mayor Newsom signed on to the World Environment Day accords to much fanfare in June, he must have skipped reading the one proposing a 15% increase in public transit before he glibly supported a 4% cut in service instead.
The poor and working people who must use Muni are not comforted by pabulum about how raising fares and cutting service is going to make it better or lies about how all alternatives were exhausted. Muni cavalierly threw away a $9 million windfall in May, handing it out to drivers of private cars, and never pursued a solution that would charge downtown businesses for the delivery of their workers. Spare us the hypocrisy.