SF Leaders Begin $1.5 Billion Push for Transit Funding

by Michael Cabanatuan : McClatchy News Servicegovtech – excerpt

The push is in response to a report issued last fall which called for a series of ballot measures to raise $3 billion to invest in the city’s transportation infrastructure.

It’s no secret that San Francisco leaders plan to ask voters in November to make a big investment in improving the city’s transportation system. On Tuesday, they’ll announce the specifics: a general obligation bond measure and an increase in the vehicle license fee designed to produce $1.5 billion over the next 15 years…

Deadlines loom

The bond measure, which requires eight votes from the Board of Supervisors to make the ballot, needs a two-thirds majority to pass. The vehicle license fee also needs eight supervisorial votes to make the ballot but requires only a majority to pass in November. The advisory measure, which is not binding, needs only six votes to qualify and a majority to pass.

To qualify for the November ballot, the $500 million general obligation bond must be introduced by the Board of Supervisors by next Tuesday, with the vehicle license fee increase and the advisory measure following in the weeks to come. All of the measures face a July 22 deadline to make the ballot.

Proceeds from the ballot measures – if they pass – will be split between projects to improve Muni ($635 million), repave and maintain city streets ($625 million), and make pedestrian and bike improvements to increase safety on city thoroughfares ($296 million).

Muni plans to invest its share of the proceeds in implementing its Transit Effectiveness Project, a plan to overhaul the transit system, including improvements to make service more reliable on the 8X-Bayshore Express, 38/38L-Geary and 14/14L-Mission lines. The agency would also expand its fleet to try to increase service and reduce crowding. Money would also be spent on more transit-only lanes, better stops and updated Muni maintenance centers.

Street paving and curb ramps would be big beneficiaries of the transit tax proceeds. A 2011 bond measure that expires this year provided funds to repave thousands of city blocks. A total of 854 blocks were redone in 2013, and more than 900 are scheduled this year and next. Proceeds from the ballot measures would cover the cost of resurfacing 500 blocks a year.

“This would allow us to maintain the progress we’ve made with streets,” Reiskin said.

Street improvements intended to increase pedestrian safety as well as provide up to 65 miles of safer bike lanes would also be funded. The bike and pedestrian improvements, which include more pedestrian signals, better lighting, wider crosswalks and efforts to slow traffic, would also be funded as part of the city’s commitment to the Vision Zero project that seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

Counting on passage

While the proposals aren’t on the ballot yet, city officials are banking on passage. The MTA budget, recently approved by the agency’s Board of Directors, tentatively includes funds from ballot measures. Mohammed Nuru, public works director, and Reiskin said the city has projects from street modifications and paving jobs to new bus purchases and transit improvements lined up and ready to build if voters give the go-ahead.

“As soon as the dollars are available,” Reiskin said, “we can start putting the projects on the ground.”… (more)

Everybody is asking where the bond money will go. Here is the answer of the day. The Muni will spend $635 million rearranging bus routes, eliminating bus stops and traffic lanes by creating BRTs on some of the major arterial streets. There is no mention of buying more buses or training more bus drivers.

$625 million to maintain and pave city streets. We know what happened the last time we voted for that one.

$296 million for bike and pedestrian safety. We know what that means.

If this is not your cup of tea, you might want to support the Restore Transportation Balance initiative instead.

Municipal Transportation Agency rolls out budget

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

Everything from free Muni rides for senior and disabled riders to shutting off parking meters on Sundays will be on the table when the Municipal Transportation Agency considers its budget for the next two fiscal years. (Mayors Transportation Task Force Proposals)

The agency, which oversees all things related to transportation in San Francisco – transit, traffic, parking, taxis – has proposed a basic spending plan of $915.4 million for the budget year that starts July 1 and $943 million for the following year. The budget covers the anticipated costs of operating existing transportation services.

A separate capital budget proposes spending $646.6 million and $749.1 million on physical improvements, including Central Subway construction, replacing Muni Metro rail cars and some buses, building more bike lanes and pedestrian safety projects, and installing new traffic signals.

The budget also calls for an automatic scheduled fare increase to $2.25 for single-ride fares paid in cash.

What’s not included are the proposals to raise, reduce or eliminate some fares and fees, increase service, build pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and improve technology.

A major new expense, however, is also a big unknown: increases in contracts with Muni’s labor unions, which are being negotiated this year. A potential big cost reduction is a proposal to reduce or eliminate work orders: that is, money paid to other city departments for services.

Setting those priorities will be the job of the MTA Board of Directors, which officially receives the proposed budget and hold its first public hearing at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A second hearing will be held on March 4, with a series of less formal town-hall meetings also planned(more)

What happened to the claims that Muni is broke? They found some money? Where? If you care about Muni money you should to send some written comments and consider showing up to the hearings. Also check out the comments on KQED Newsroom below for an explanation on why bond deals could be in trouble. Who tracks the money?

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KQED Newsroom: (5:40- 5:55)) “there was an 11 billion dollar water bond passed in 2009 that was loaded up with all kinds of pork projects, bike lanes, and everything else, and, they know that isn’t going to fly with the voters.”