San Franciscans spend less on transportation than residents of any other Bay Area city. But there are hidden costs for public transit riders: unreliable trains, long, slow commutes and unsafe pedestrian routes.
Muni service is slow citywide, but it can be particularly burdensome for lower-income riders who must repeatedly switch lines or buses just to travel a few miles to downtown. Lacking transportation options or flexibility for when they must be at their jobs, they often trade comfort, promptness and even safety for affordability.
“If you think of affordability in terms of what you pay out of your pocket, you’re going to get wrong answers sometimes,” said Elizabeth Deakin, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. “What you want to think about is the overall time and cost combination that people can afford to pay with the incomes that they make.”
A single ride on Muni now costs $2.25, up from a dollar in 2000. And because more than half of Muni’s 702,000 weekday riders make less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level (or $23,540 for individuals, $31,836 for a family of two), rising fares have a disproportionate effect on low-income San Franciscans. But the single-ride Muni fare remains on par with mass-transit fares in most major U.S. cities, and Muni offers reduced-fare programs to help ease the economic burden of transit for those who need it most… (more)