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Beyond Chron 
May 19, 2008

Copyright © 2009 by Marc Norton

For those of you who think that the proposed Muni fare hike to two bucks is the result of the current economic crisis, think again. The Muni hierarchy hatched this plot long ago.

Back in early 2005, when the fare was a nostalgic $1.25, Muni chief Michael Burns penned a memo which boldly stated as follows:

"Staff is viewing a potential FY06 fare increase within a five-year window. For example,
were the adult cash fare to be increased to $1.50 in FY06, then staff believes it makes sense to plan on increasing this fare by a quarter in both FY08 and FY10, resulting in a $2.00 ADULT CASH FARE IN THE FINAL YEAR. All other categories would be similarly increased." [my emphasis]

Muni got its quarter-dollar increase in FY06 (that is Fiscal Year 2006, starting July 2005, for the uninitiated). That fare hike to $1.50, coupled with a wide-ranging set of service cutbacks, provoked a huge outcry from the riding public, angry demonstrations at city hall, and a serious attempt at a mass fare strike. San Francisco was not pleased with all the little emperors and emperorettes on the Muni board.

Our public transportation moguls backed off a bit after that, foregoing their planned FY08 quarter-dollar fare hike. But now they want to make up for lost time, proposing to jump straight to that same $2 fare in FY10, starting in July of this year -- the exact time proposed back in 2005. And, as they proposed back then, "all other categories" including the adult, youth, senior and disabled passes are being "similarly increased."

It's all right there in Burns' memo, on page four, still up on the Muni website.

But keep reading, all you Muni folk, because there is more:

"In order to implement a fare increase, the MTA would either need to
DECLARE A FISCAL EMERGENCY or conduct environmental review."
[my emphasis again]

And declaring a fiscal emergency is just what they are doing. How convenient that this particular fiscal emergency happens right on schedule. Yes, the economy is in the tank. However, it seems like the increased revenue from these planned fare increases isn't even going to Muni, but to other city departments such as the San Francisco Police Department, allegedly for "services" performed for the benefit of Muni riders.

Sort of a "planned" emergency, wouldn't you say?

In case your memory is short, the Mayor back in 2005, when this plot was hatched, was a guy named Gavin Newsom.

Another government innovation brought to us in large part by our man Gavin was Prop E, back in 1999, when the Gav was a mere supervisor, working with the yuppies at Rescue Muni on "Muni reform." Before Prop E was foisted on an unsuspecting public, it would have taken only SIX supervisors to reject a Muni fare hike - for instance: John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Chris Daly, Eric Mar and Ross Mirkarimi.

Thanks, Gav. Got any more good ideas?