Looking for Solutions for Your Muni? Don't Wait For City Hall or the MTA....
It was unfortunate to hear the results of the Muni operators' union vote the other day against some minor concessions to try and help stave off the worst of Muni budget cuts, especially since Muni got some rare GOOD news, as the boondoggle at BART was rejected by the Federal Government, meaning that many agencies will be getting a significant amount of money to pay for repairs and maintenance. But after making a few intemperate remarks on that Twitter thing, further investigation by our friends at Streetsblog indicate this was a big ol' TWU leadership failure to inform their members, one which perhaps should be no surprise.
TWU's leadership has traditionally been on the side of the handful of bad apples, going to court to defend them, instead of supporting rules that would reward the good operators in the fleet. We all know this, and it's no secret than in many cases, union membership finds itself with a leadership clique that is out of touch with its members and the public it's supposed to serve.
But don't expect grandstanding politicians like Sup. Sean Elsbernd to be part of the solution. He has made a lot of headlines allegedly being Our Friend Vs. The Evil Muni Drivers with his stupid charter proposal. The problem is, Elsbernd doesn't really give a damn about Muni at all - he loyally voted for Newsom's looting of Muni by other departments - ironically something, in a John Kerry-esque flip flop, now says he's against. As for our "Mayor", Mr. Football Bat, well he's off using taxpayer money for another abortive bid for statewide office, and has never liked Muni anyway, so don't expect any help from him, either.
There's some noise being made by "progressive" Supervisors, but again, it's mostly noise made by freshman Supervisors who have proven more adept at symbolic gestures and big talk, but don't really seem to understand what they're up against, nor do they have a clearer idea of what they would do better.
If you, as the owner and rider of Muni are tired of the political games and nonsense that makes you late to work, to school, and to the things you like to do in your daily life, then, I'm sorry to say, it's going to be you, along with your friends and neighbors, that's going to be the one to get us out of this mess. None of the people at City Hall really care about your daily experiences, be they on Muni or dealing with any city department or issue, so you really can't expect them to do much besides respond to a lot of loud, angry phone calls and emails.
If you really want something to change for the better, we're all going to have to find a way to fundamentally change how the MTA is governed and funded so we don't have these perpetual failures every single year. (And sorry, folks, but this whole "don't let the people or the electeds be involved" bullshit doesn't work, it hasn't for a long time, and anyone who continues to be an apologist for it is no friend of Muni owner/riders)
Just as an aside - when I started writing in 2005, major, systemwide failures were not unheard of, but they did not happen with the consistency we're seeing now. It's now to the point where sometimes I don't even want to turn on Twitter or go online, because I don't want to hear about more misery being inflicted by these fools at the top.