Muni 2013. NOW What?!?
Muni 2013! NOW WHAT?!?
A year ago, as I looked towards what 2012 might bring Muni, especially it being the system's 100th Anniversary, with some hope that the celebration of said anniversary might inspire Muni to move forward, and at least remind people why their mass transit system was a valuable asset worth fixing and enhancing.
Boy was I wrong about that.
While I enjoyed most of the celebrations Muni had, as did those who participated, overall, Muni took several steps backwards this year. The stalls in the tunnels have become a regular occurrence. The politicians still play political campaign games with Muni's money - even though Mayor Newsom is long gone from the scene. People on the westside had the opportunity to elect a supervisor with one of the most comprehensive plans and understanding of all forms of transit (not just just Muni) - but instead chose to re-elect a failed supervisor who's more worried about the Grammy awards. We still have people who spend all the time on stupid blog comments running down Muni, not realizing that we're ultimately the ones who will have to force change, not "them."
To be sure there were some amazing things this year too. The ongoing expansion of the F-Line fleet, the successful run of the E-Embarcadero, the good faith efforts of many at the SFMTA to make things work, and so on made for some peaceful moments on the N and elsewhere. Despite the many, many weekends of bus service on the N, the tracks are finished and improvements made on the line got done, and there's a noticeable improvement as you ride from Duboce and Church outbound towards the Sunset.
However, the most important news that could have a major impact on all forms of transit (Muni, roads, bikes, and so on) was also the news most overlooked by the public - the passage of State Senator Mark Leno's bill to allow counties to vote to raise the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) to the pre-Governor Doofinaor (Schwarzenegger) levels. It's hard to emphasize what a big deal this is. If San Franciscans one day chose to do this, it would mean locally-sourced funding for our transit system, and eliminate dependence on Sacramento's endless follies.
Naturally, there is no proposal to vote on, not anything in front of us right now - just the ability to do so if we so choose. However, a properly written and administered VLF hike that had accountability to get things done (and not allow politicians to blow it on all on their re-election campaigns) would end a lot of the financial excuses the system has now. More importantly, it would put the question directly to the owner/riders - yes you want the system to run on time - are you willing to pay for it, or are you going to simply wait for Santa Claus to pay for it with unicorn dust? No matter what, State Sen. Leno's long time work on this issue deserves a high five, and Senator, if you're reading, next time you're in the Sunset I owe you a beer.
That all said, to be honest, after writing about all this for over seven (!) years, I, too began to get a bit discouraged and wondered why I still write about all of this when I don't even get paid to do so. After a much needed break, I'm back online and am looking forward to trying out some new things on the blog, as well as revamp the look and feel of it to something more befitting of the year 2013.
As always, I welcome your emails of Muni triumphs and woe via the Reader Mail section, and always enjoy publishing the many Tales of Extreme Commuting those of you engage in every day to get where you need to go. Now that the folks at Flickr finally got their act together and have made uploading via mobile device a lot better, I'm reviving the NJC Reader Photo Group where you and I can share our experiences via photo online.
For now, keep the faith and help keep Muni accountable in 2013!