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This Week Was a WTF For the Records. Newsom's Jihad "War on Muni" is in Full Force

madgavin2.jpgThis week was truly one for the record books wasn't it?

What with some pretty major failures every day of the week, with Newsom's "War on Muni" in full effect, and an MTA Board ruthlessly committed to carry out that war on us owners and riders of Muni (with one exception, thank God), this was a week that really shows just what's wrong with the system, and why we need people to change it.

It's clear that the Mayor isn't just indifferent to Muni owner/riders, he and his overpaid political staff are on a jihad to ruin the system as much as possible before he (finally) leaves office next year. The fatwa was issued several times via his shadowy staff and the clerics at the MTA board, with a zeal only a radical could love.

MTA commissioners have been bullied into not even considering revoking all the freebies cars get in the City, and absolutely refuses to consider real revenue replacements for the Sacramento mugging committed by the Governor. Instead they want to drive this system into the ground and make you pay the penalties in time and money. One has to begin to wonder if Newsom gets some sort of personal gratification for this policy of destruction, the kind you can only correct through years of psychotherapy or at kink.com

But all was not lost. The heroes at MuniFail.com gave us a new tool to express our will, although the Mayor's expensive political spokesman basically said "FU" in the Chronicle this morning. Never mind - at least now we can quantify how much the Mayor hates Muni owner riders!

There were a few bright spots. We had a possible chance to end a foolish waste of federal dollars, but in the end, despite the heroics of Chris Daly (!) the project passed, for now. There's still a chance this will end in ether money for all Bay area transit operators or just plain tears, but I give credit to Daly and the others at the MTC who voted "no" for sticking by their beliefs, despite union and politician bullying.

Other bright spots included a new app to catalog your day in Muni, and a break from all that rainy weather. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi took over this week as SFCTA chair, and we got to see some historical photos of what the place known as the Blackthorn today from back in 1950.

I'm taking the rest of the day off, but I'll be posting some new business reviews, and some new features this weekend. Until then, I'm on Twitter at @njudah and the N Judah Chronicles has a Facebook "Fan Page" (!) also. Many times as breaking news comes from multiple sources (be they the Twitteratti of San Francisco, or our friends at SF Appeal, SF Weekly, Streetsblog, and the myriad of transit bloggers out there), I will first break it on Twitter, and write a post later. Have a great weekend!

Comments

Muni service during the past year has been so atrocious that it's essentially a big driver for moving out of the city. I've always enjoyed living near transit lines, for all of the usual reasons, but enough is enough--we didn't move to West Portal just to get stuck near the end of the tunnel for 10-15 minutes every day while Muni lollygags their trains out of the station. I can't believe that my commute is actually longer now than it was when I lived in the Inner Sunset!

When it comes to the Bay Area, there's only one mode of transportation that I feel I can trust now: my own two feet. I can get walkable outside of the city. (And yes, I own two rather functional cars and a bike.) I can also live near rail transit lines outside of the city. They might cost a little more and one is apparently run by dopes (not mentioning any names, BART, with your stupid OAK airport connector), but they will at least run most of the time.

Maybe I'd feel differently if I were not paying so much for so little. I'm one of those folks who ends up paying a lot in taxes with very few breaks. I would at least like *something* for my money, and, well, I'm getting nothing.

Tony Winnicker: "If only all those tweets could help us close Muni's $16.9 million budget deficit."

If only that august group of a**holes hadn't gotten us into that $16.9 million budget deficit to begin with...

Just now read this (http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/01/bosss_message_to_muni_overtime.php) and just have to say, for perhaps stupidly obvious reasons the "labor" side of the equation seems to be missing from a lot of discussions. I guess it's easier to extend parking meter hours or shaft the citizens who rely on this crucial service, or to simply whine and complain, than to dare suggest that maybe, just maybe, salaries and overtime policies etc be looked at with an eye to readjustment. God forbid!

"Muni bureaucrats are meeting Friday morning [i.e., Jan 29] to weigh proposals to cut service, double fees to youth, seniors and the disabled, and dismiss drivers. Fair enough.

"But no one is suggesting Muni take away the overtime enjoyed by its mechanics. Their overtime pay is actually expected to increase during the coming year.

"According to a report delivered earlier this month to the Board of Supervisors by Muni chief Nat Ford, between March 7 and Oct. 30 of last year, 232 employees in the system's operations division -- women and men who work on buses, rail systems, switches, and other infrastructure -- amassed overtime hours totaling 16 percent or more of their regular hours.

"Staff cuts envisioned during the coming period will actually increase the number of overtime hours worked, Ford reported."

...It's enough to make you just spit, isn't it?

They don't really think these things through. Muni never cuts management, even when they outsource millions of dollars worth of work to "consultants." They don't think how best to control labor costs and end up with situations where they either do layoffs or attrition, only to end up paying MORE in overtime, and they cut things like maintenance, which means big accidents and bigger (expensive) problems later.

No one, of course, talks about how the state stole a big chunk of Muni's budget, a hole that will not be made up by parking meters and tickets and a few layoffs. We know what it takes to run a decent Muni - we paid millions for the TEP. Now we just have to find a way to pay for it that makes sense. Nickel and diming people to death will never work, but the MTA simply doesn't have the collected brains to figure that out, and seem content to destroy it.

Sheeesh! I used to enjoy visiting SF and riding Muni, but if it's half as bad as the locals on NJC say it is, why bother? If Newsom is thinking of running for state-wide office (or has he quit smoking that particular pipe?) he should know that word gets around and I'd sooner vote for Alfred E. Neumann (the MAD Magazine cover boy) than for Gavin the Gormless.

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