Reading news about MUNI these days, you begin to wonder if the people in charge live on the same planet, much less same city, as we do. It was not long ago we found out why it is MUNI has a recurring problem with “deficits”, and that perhaps Our City Leaders might have read something about this as well.
Clearly they didn’t. Or if they did they seem to have come up with new junkie logic, even more impressive than recent examples we’ve seen to justify the vague, probably-won’t-happen-anyway promise of “free” MUNI.
It goes something like this: MUNI is doing such a bad job of collecting fares anyway, why not simply abolish them (and the $137 million it brings in) and instead, make MUNI free. It’ll “boost ridership” and the system will “run better.” Everyone’s happy and has that feel-good sensation that makes the world a sparkly, happy place.
Notice how there’s one thing missing in said junkie logic: how to pay for the system as-is, not to mention paying for the system we need, or the system’s unforeseen costs in the future. No matter -we can raise the tax on unicorns (or perhaps tax gun-wielding dragons) and we’ll be fine!
Now, if there was a reliable way to implement the results of the SF Transit Effectiveness Project and develop long-term, stable, non gimmicky ways to pay for MUNI that resulted in better service and a free or heavily discounted MUNI, well that’d be great.
However, to do so takes a lot of smart people a lot of time to come up with long term solutions like these. Instead, our leaders offer us “feel-good” phrases to make everyone happy, and put off the sadness for later.
The “free MUNI” trial balloon has had at least one immediate effect: it got the Board of Supervisors, which had shot down a non-binding resolution demanding MUNI make FastPasses cheaper for the 18-24 set, to reconsider, then pass it, with Supervisor Aaron Peskin changing his mind, in light of the Mayor’s announcement.
There was a catch, however – the resolution now only demands a cheaper pass for youth aged 18 to 21. Persecuted 22, 23, and 24 year olds, who were apparently a priority last week, got thrown under the bus, so to speak. D’oh!