A Windfall For Muni? Or Not? UPDATED
Right now, everyone from Governor Schwarznegger to members of the State Legislature are running around patting each other on the back about how much they just "did" for transit agencies like Muni, with this little bill the Gov. signed. Heck, everyone's acting like somehow Muni just received a "windfall" of cash to make its troubles go away.
Really? Well, no. It's more like suggesting Homer Simpson is a "noble hero" worth a handshake when says "Remember when I returned you that money I loaned you? Well now it's time for you to do me a favor!"
As pointed out last week, yes, this is a nice bit of money, after many years of the state's illegal looting of state gas tax fund was found, um, illegal by the courts. But by no means is this as big a break as some politicians would make it seem. Nor has one single legislator conceded that their votes in the past to steal the money voters approved was wrong (do theives ever say "sorry?").
And, the gas tax formula guarantee(80% roads/20% transit), the driver's way of paying their fair share of transportation costs, is no more. The only assurance we have this money won't get stolen again, is to have a pack of Sacramento legislators say "Trust us." So while this is a nice bit of news, better than the usual kick in the face anyone riding Muni gets via the news, it's not all hams and plaques either.
Muni now has a challenge though - they can't just bark out "farehikeservicecuteconomybadstatecuts" any longer - and it will be up to them to show that this money won't just wind up in a work-order mess, or get diverted to things that won't be helpful to make the day-to-day operations work as best as they can in tough times. Those that are interested would be wise to keep their eyes open and not be fooled in the coming weeks as Muni and the MTA make decisions about financial matters.
If you're curious about the San Francisco Transit Rider's Union some folks are talking about, they're having a meeting tomorrow at 6pm at SPUR's "Urban Center" located at 654 Mission Street. Find out what they're all about and share your ideas with them.
UPDATE: It's really amazing to see how many news outlets are just flat-out wrong about what this is and is not, and what the effects will be. It's especially amazing as these are "journalistic" outlets of some sort, and allegedly superior to anyone that doesn't have a Big Jay next to their name. Whatever.
UPDATE 2: And yet another example of the mainstream press calling this a "windfall" when it is not, this time in regards to SamTrans and CalTrain. Amazing.