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Friday, October 21, 2005

>  November 10 Community March Set
>  "Cascade of Complaints" about Muni Service Cuts
>  Muni Revenue Gains Smaller This Year Than Last Year


In the wake of ongoing anger with Muni's service cuts and fare hike, the San Francisco Day Labor Program has initiated a call for a Community March to demand that the service cuts and fare hike be reversed. The march is set for Thursday, November 10, starting at 4:00 pm. It will start at 24th and Mission Streets, and go to City Hall.

The call for the Community March has been joined by:
* Mujeres Unidas y Activas
* POWER (People Organized
    to Win Employment Rights)
* Chinese Progressive Association
* St. Peter's Housing Committee
* La Raza Centro Legal
* CARECEN (Central American
    Resource Center)
* Muni Fare Strike.

Save the date, and be there! More information will follow.


An article in today's Beyond Chron reports that riders on the 38-Geary, the 71-Haight and the N-Judah are reporting significant "delays in getting to work on time," as well as serious over-crowding, in the wake of Muni's recent service cuts. These complaints contradict Muni's claim that the wait on the 38-Geary has only increased by "one minute," and that they have made no cuts at all to the 71-Haight or the N-Judah.

Beyond Chron also reports that Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has reported a "cascade of complaints" from his constituents complaining about Muni's service cuts. According to the article, Mirkarimi's office is getting complaints from riders about "buses and street cars passing them by, arriving late, or being crowded to the point where it's a safety concern and people are unable to board." Both the 71-Haight and the N-Judah run through Mirkarimi's district. Mirkarimi has written a formal complaint to Muni, citing his "strong frustration with Muni's service."

The full article is at www.beyondchron.org/link.asp?smenu=110&sdetail=2638.


New figures we have seen from Muni show that the revenue from the recent fare increase is not the rip-roaring success story that they claimed it would be.

For example, Muni is now bragging about an alleged 11% increase in revenue in September 2005 over September 2004. Yet, that is LESS than the 12% revenue increase they had in September 2004 over September 2003 -- a year without a fare hike.

Those who are afraid of numbers should skip the rest of this piece. But, if you do, be forewarned against buying into the spin Muni is now putting out about "soaring revenue" from its recent fare hike.

In September, the month that the fare hike took effect, Muni took in about $4.358 million in cash fares on regular transit lines, not including cable cars. In August, just before the fare hike, Muni took in about $4.182 million in cash fares. That's an increase of only $176,000. This works out to an average 7.7% increase in daily cash revenue in September over August.

Contrast that 7.7% increase with the fact that Muni raised adult fares by 20% and youth, senior and disabled fares by 40%. Something isn't adding up right. This minimal increase in cash fares is also offset by the fact that ridership usually goes up in September, when tens of thousands of students return to school.

Muni's public relations operation has claimed that a lot of riders who had been paying the cash fare would switch to buying the monthly Fast Pass as a result of the fare hike. But, according to Muni's own figures, the increase in revenue from Fast Pass sales this September (2005) compared to September last year (2004), was a mere $110,000. (Muni has not provided Fast Pass sales figures for August, so we can't compare that month.) According to Muni, that is a 2% increase in revenue from Fast Pass sales, very far from the big boost they had been predicting.

In fact, Muni reports that sales of the youth discount pass dropped by over 6%, despite the fact that the youth cash fare was raised from 35 cents to 50 cents.

Similarly, revenue from the sales of the weekly pass is down by over 4%, in spite of Muni increasing the cost of the weekly pass from $12 to $15. Many low-income people who can't afford $45 for the monthly pass buy the weekly pass -- but obviously fewer are buying it now.

Where Muni is making significant revenue gains is in the cable car division. This is hardly surprising, however, given that they raised the fare $2 a pop, from $3 to $5. These days the cable cars are pretty much a tourist trap, and tourism is way up this year.

Muni, trying to spin these numbers, has produced elaborate spreadsheets comparing September 2004 revenue to September 2005 revenue. But this comparison is very misleading.

According to a recent statement by Stuart Sunshine, Muni's Acting Executive Director, the increase in Muni revenues from September 2004 to September 2005 "may also reflect increases in ridership," not only increases as a result of the fare hike.

The fact is that many more San Franciscans are working this year compared to last (over 12,000 according to figures from the California Employment Development Department), and many thousands more Bay Area residents are working in San Francisco. Thousands of these workers are undoubtedly now regularly riding Muni to and from work. In addition, San Francisco is having a banner tourist year, bringing many more people aboard Muni.

That is why we have sought to compare August 2005 revenues to September 2005 revenues whenever we have these figures, in order to minimize the effect of increased ridership from last year.

What we would like to see next from Muni is data that would allow us to compare August and September cash fare revenue on specific lines, particularly in lower-income communities like the Mission, the Bayview and the Western Addition. We would also like to see revenue figures for October, so that we can see what effect the September 24 service cuts have had on revenue. We'll see whether or not Muni is forthcoming with such data.

We would like to thank Supervisor Chris Daly's office, and in particular John Avalos, for help in getting these figures.