Once again, the half-assed budgeting and planning by MUNI reared its head in the “No Duh” section of the San Francisco Chronicle today when it was revealed t that raising the cable car fare 67% to $5 may be pushing people off the system. The raise was part of the MUNI “raise fares kill service” death sprial SPUR has documented so well.
While those of us who follow such things see this as yet another “No Duh” moment for MUNI, it really isn’t. See, unlike us civilians, the folks who run MUNI don’t sit down, figure out how much it actually costs to run a competent system, then figure out how to pay for it in a reasonable way.
Instead they screw around with the margins, protect fat paychecks for management, and you and I, the rider/citizen/customer are left wondering why it is a supposedly green city like San Francisco has such a dopey transit system.
But to truly appreciate the thinking of the manager types that run things, check out this quote by well-paid spokesperson Maggie Lynch on why the Cable Cars aren’t doing as well this year vs. years past:
Lingering winter rains probably drove some people from the open-air cable cars, and the growing popularity of the F-line historic streetcar that runs between the Castro and Fisherman’s Wharf also may play a role, Lynch said.
You have to be f*&%$ing kidding me. The fact she can say this with a straight face to the press is either an example of sheer nerve, or sheer stupidity. Notice the use of the qualifier “may” to escape any sort of “WTF” questioning later on. Nice!
Now, I love the F-Line streetcars as much as anyone else, and think the work the Market Street Railway Museum to fix up these cars and promote MUNI history is one of the coolest things anyone’s done lately. I also dig the fact you can take a historical streetcar to work.
But to think that tourists from around the world are coming to San Francsico for the F-Line instead of the historic Cable Cars is a joke.
Tony Bennett didn’t sing about PCC cars. If you asked people in any city in America, or the Rest of the Planet, what iconic image represents San Francisco, frankly if you found one person who said “the Historic F-Line cars” over Cable Cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, fog, or anything else the city is famous for, I’d be amazed.
But what is most amazing is how much of our taxes and fares go to pay people who peddle such logic to you and I, expecting us to nod our heads and say “Duh, yeah!”
Then again, MUNI originally wanted to abolish the cable cars entirely, and successfully conned voters into voting for a measure that claimed to be “saving” the cable cars, when in fact it dismantled the majority of the system that was left, leaving the tourist ride we have today.
I guess at MUNI, some things never change.
And you wonder why I have an “On Notice” board….
My mother, who moved to SF in the early 60’s, tells me stories about how San Franciscans used to take the cable cars TO WORK. Natives USED THESE THINGS as TRANSIT! Now, my mother isn’t given to making up stories or exaggeration, so I believe her…but can you imagine cable cars as a viable means of public transport (that is, transporting folks who aren’t rich and/or tourists)?
You have an On Notice board?! Lucky.. I have a few transit-related suggestions if you need to fill it up.
Seriously, though. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on the fare hike.