If you’ve read the N Judah Chronicles for any length of time, you know that one thing I have consistently advocated for is a more stable source of funding for the service so it just works, instead of having it go down the “no money, cut budget, no money, cut more” toilet bowl.
In both today’s Chronicle, and today’s Examiner, some new ideas were proposed for discussion, ranging from the usual (increase parking ticket costs, and meters) to the dumb (automatic fare increases, charging for “transfers”) to the wild-eyed (selling sodas at rail stations and jacking up random taxes for fun).
Realize, that this comes on the heels of Mayor Newsom’s fanciful proposal to eliminate all fares, which gets the excitable folk in town all happy and smiley at the concept. Of course there’s no way to pay for it, aside junkie logic about how “collecting the money costs too much.” But hey! It made people feel good, right?
And to add to the cavalcade of “good feelings” we had the proposal to cut bus passes for the oppressed 18 to
24 21 year olds, because we “should” – and the “money” will just “appear,” right?
Whatever. Lost in all of these discussions are some basic economics we were treated to just a few weeks ago about the fact that MUNI and the MTA don’t collect even close to the amount of money they’re already owed. The losses estimated from junkie fare evaders at just 3 stations was estimated to be almost 33 million dollars. That’s a big chunk of that deficit – at only three stations.
No transit system in the world raises all its cash from the farebox, but if MUNI just collected a little bit more from the cheats, and the DPT collected just a little bit more of what it’s already owed, there’d be no need for higher taxes, or things like jacking fares automatically, et al.
It’s good that MUNI and the MTA are exploring other options for funding, and it would be nice if they’d do more to solicit ideas from the public-at-large. However, as we go down this road, it’s important to not lose sight of what is practical, and do-able, and get lost in ideas that end up causing more trouble than they’re worth.