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Friday, September 17, 2021

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News + PoliticsTransportationWhat's going on with Muni? Supes want some clear answers

What’s going on with Muni? Supes want some clear answers

Plus: Can private buses use the transit lanes on Geary -- and does the city need any more giant mansions? That's The Agenda for July 19-16

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The Board of Supes Rules Committee Monday/19 will select three people to serve on the task force that will draw new supervisorial districts. It’s a critical decision, and the details are here.

No matter what else happens to San Francisco as we emerge from the pandemic, Muni is going to be key to the city’s future.

And right now, it’s a mess.

What happens next to Muni?

Lines that were shut down haven’t all come back. It’s taken considerable community organizing just to get a few lines (like the 31) operating again.

That’s became a major focus for Sups. Dean Preston and Connie Chan, who are holding a hearing at the Government Audit and Oversidght Committee Friday/23 on the “de facto route abandonment” and plans for restoring service.

The committee will also consider a resolution calling on the Municipal Transportation Agency to reinstate all transit lines and restore pre-COVID service by Dec. 31, 2021. Among other things, the resolution notes:

The MTA has not held any community meetings regarding the suspension of Muni lines or the plan, timetable, or selection process for which lines return when, and many transit advocates have criticized the slow return of Muni lines and service and the lack of a transparent community driven process … Even with the $1.1 billion in massive federal investment, MTA has not presented a plan, or their metrics, for when many of these neighborhood lines will return.

Preston is also using the board’s monthly Question Time to raise the issue; he will ask Mayor London Breed about her plans for public transit at the Tuesday/20 meeting.

Also on Tuesday/20, the MTA Board will discuss a plan to make transit-only lanes permanent on Geary Blvd, which most transit activists think is a fine idea – except for one big problem.

In the past, the MTA has allowed private transportation systems – the Google buses, the Academy of Art shuttles, casino buses, and the like – to use the transit-only corridors. That’s technically not legal – both state law and city ordinances state clearly that transit-only lanes are only for public transit (in some areas, the city allows licensed taxis, but not Uber or Lyft vehicles).

The Sierra Club, which warned about this two years ago when discussions for the Geary lanes were underway, is urging the MTA to make a very clear statement that private operators can’t use the permanent transit-only lanes.

(In the past, the agency has given a pass to the Google buses to, among other things, use Muni stops, under a secret “handshake agreement.”)

That meeting starts at 1pm.

The Planning Commission will consider Thursday/22 Sup. Rafael Mandelman’s legislation to require conditional use hearings for giant mansions.

It’s part of a combined proposal Mandelman has offered: Allow fourplexes on corners in residential neighborhoods – but make it harder to build giant houses.

The fourplex part of the legislation hasn’t made it to planning yet, and involves another entire set of issues, including whether more high-density housing will increase affordability (by itself, no).

But the mansion part is pretty simple: The last thing San Francisco needs right now is more ultra-luxury housing, affordable only to the very, very rich, with huge impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.
The commission hearing is just the next step in the process.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Well, first off, Muni is a rolling ADA violation. They show an appalling disdain for disabled people. The have no qualms about relocating stops to places that are difficult for disabled and elderly patrons. During the Van Ness project stops were moved about, and sometimes without signage indicating where to. And they were often moved to require walking up steep grades, or to navigate a convoluted path of barriers, filled with tripping hazards, in the dark. Muni seems to hate it’s riders.and engages in regular abuse, especially of the poor, disabled, and elderly that depend on it the most.

  2. Now that the budget has been put to bed, gone with it is the ability of the supervisors to coerce compliance by the Mayor by putting funds dear to the Mayor on Board reserve to be metered out through the year depending on whether the Mayor played ball.

    The supes will pass a resolution, a sternly written reso, that urges the MTA to take steps. But absent a budgetary club, Breed’s going to just laugh at them.

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