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bad bad bad. I'm growing increasingly nervous that we're facing our own SFMTA doomsday.

It's not that 'enough people' need to feel the pain, its that the people in charge need to. No amount of people and no amount of pain will change the budgetary priorities on SF unless the mayor and MTA board feels something as a result of this. With our mayor being chauffeured around town in his SUV, that's not very likely. Newsom didn't even mention Muni in his State of the City speech just the other day. For than man, Muni might as well be on the moon, because it's not in his San Francisco at all.

Alon Levy

Is SF pulverizing any clockface schedule patterns, as Portland did in its service cut to 17-minute headways?


I don't think SF ever really had clockface schedules or particularly regular headways, and schedule adherence is so poor that it rarely matters anyway. And as far as the day to day functioning of SF is concerned, the Mayor might as well be on the moon, because that couldn't possibly make ol' football bat Gavin any less useful.


@Alon. SF's service are mostly so frequent that clockface headways don't arise. The "community bus" services, small feeder routes that penetrate hard-to-serve hilly areas, have typically been every 20-30 and I'm sure they'll retain some legible pattern.

@Pedestrianist. I disagree that Mayor Newsom is the only one who needs to feel the pain, or even the most important one. California's governance problems need to be fixed, and that will only happen if everyone is feeling enough pain. Local activists should be fixating on state government, not city government. If you need to blame someone, blame Arnie, though the blame really belongs to three decades of voters passing initiatives.


Muni Meltdown II. I lived there during the last meltdown, around 1997, and I remember the 38 Geary being routinely too crowded to stop for anyone. Fun times.



Oh, I lay plenty of blame on the governator, believe me. :-)

But there is a valid fight at City Hall. The SFMTA Board is entirely appointed by the mayor, and its chairman, Tom Nolan, freely admits he caters to Newsom's political whims rather than following our City Charter (http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/07/06/streetscast-an-interview-with-mta-chair-tom-nolan-part-i/)

por ejemplo, the board killed a recommendation to increase parking meter rates and hours at Newsom's urging. That increase was projected to raise a net of around $9 million for the SFMTA, which is damn close to the price tag they put on these cuts as well as December's cambios significantes combined.

Trimming of inefficient routes aside, Muni could use that money to avoid painful cuts and actually improve service. And the SFMTA Board is bound by the Charter to 'diligently seek new revenue sources for Muni.' Rejecting revenue sources like that is a violation of the Charter - the same document that gives the mayor his executive power.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Not just the governator, but the initiative and budgeting system.  This pain has got to turn into serious efforts to get a constitutional convention focused on governance and budgeting issues.  It's not in any governor's power to fix.



Welcome to San Francisco, the worst run big city in the US.

Ted King

The F-Market fare increase makes little sense due to that line's lack of uniqueness. Dozens of other communities have similar operations (see below) running or under development. When it started it was a fancy toy - a few rare cars trotted out when they felt like it (one car seems to have been reserved as a retriever for other rail cars [LRV/PCC/etc.]). It grew into a standard service and with the mini-TEP of 5 Dec.'09 it achieved lifeline status.

I hope that they have a fall back position where they might charge an extra dollar ($1 US) for upkeep / historic preservation. That would make sense and not leave too sour a taste in one's mouth. Personally I take the F-Market for convenience. I can see a lot of people saying "SCREW YOU MUNI" and either diving underground to the Metro or going home instead of staying downtown to shop. That's right - the retro F-Market is a short-haul reliever for the modern Metro.

Vintage Streetcar
Defs.) http://www.railwaypreservation.com/vintagetrolley/vintagetrolley.htm
Systems) http://www.railwaypreservation.com/vintagetrolley/trolleylist.htm

FYI - When I'm in downtown S.F. I rarely head straight home. Instead I travel via SFMuni's Metro to the Embarcadero station platform to avoid the crush loading that usually occurs two (Powell) or three (Civic Center) stations down the line.

P.S. The Market Street Subway (aka MSS, Embarcadero to Castro inclusive) is a monument to cheese-paring. I've only been able to spot one stubby tail track in its entire length for both BART and SFMuni. It's only long enough for some sort of maintenance-of-way (MOW) vehicle (diagram below). As you exit the SFMuni's Van Ness Stn. outbound look to your left to catch a glimpse. Consider the implications and the impact of a crippled train on this Manx-style subway.

SFMuni Subway (MSS+TPT) Control Board


You know, this is going to sound a bit like heresy, but what the hell:

"Muni Meltdown II. I lived there during the last meltdown, around 1997, and I remember the 38 Geary being routinely too crowded to stop for anyone. Fun times."

Doesn't this argue that the fares are far, far, far too low on this service? I mean, come on; at SOME point we have to admit this, right?


With this fare change, the agency will be saying that the streetcars are conceptually like the cable cars. The cable cars' fundamental justification is the experience of riding them, not the transportation, and for this reason there is little serious prospect of extending them. Is the same true of the historic streetcars now?

I think the higher price for the F streetcar has less to do with the differences between the vehicles or the service, and more to do with the differences between passengers. To me this looks like price discrimination. They're trying to squeeze more money out of the tourists who frequent the line. That's why an express premium pass won't be required.

Totello Ui

What's the probelem? These problems should have been fixed years ago. The F-Line is a joke, it is LITERALLY faster to walk so I don't mind hammering the idiot tourists.

The only thing that bothers me is the union. All drivers should get a 10% pay cut and management should get cut 20% - that's the reality of budget cuts, not screwing the riders.

Alon Levy

Deflation is not good for the economy. If everyone takes a pay cut, then nothing's changed except that people's debts are worth more, which is bad for future economic growth.


@John. Price discrimination against tourists is popular in all cities. From a local perspective, it's not even controversial. Local voters can always agree that local non-voters should pay more.

The more interesting issue is that this F surcharge also hits local cash-paying riders, and on some segments, notably north Embarcadero, those riders don't have a non-surcharged optoin.


Well, rich people make off like a bandit when deflation occurs; but your average homeowner, whose net cash balance is negative (money in the bank minus outstanding debt) gets screwed.


It's pretty common for agencies to raise fares for cash-paying riders too.

CTA bus fares are $2.25 for cash users and $2.00 for smart card users. Even tougher for cash users, they have to pay another $2.25 for a transfer (change) while card users pay $0.25 for the first transfer and nothing for the second (within two hours).

Metra charges a $2 surcharge for anyone who didn't buy a pass before getting on the train (assuming a ticket agent was available at the station). This is not well publicized and always upsets a few unsuspecting non-regular riders coming out of downtown.

Obviously, the SF plan encourages cash users to switch to monthly passes, which will decrease dwell times and therefore save money. I understand that some people will be upset though. A jump from $2 to $5 is a hell of a fare increase.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

@John. Smartcards (not yet available in SF) are a little different because once you have one, you can use them to make spontaneous non-commute trips. San Francisco would be requiring this fare surcharge of anyone who wants to go to the area served only by the F, unless that person goes there so regularly as to have a monthly pass.

Convenience for spontaneous trips is a crucial feature in transit systems that want to be a primary mode for their city, and essential to the city's life.


This article says the Translink Card is usable on Muni. Is that inaccurate?

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

I admit I'm not 100% clear on fares paid via the Smartcard (formerly "Translink", now "Clipper") differ from cash fares for a single ride. I was assuming that the fare is the same because that's the usual practice. Can a local help us out here?


Although currently Translink fares (and it is still Translink - they haven't changed the name yet - https://www.translink.org/TranslinkWeb/index.do;jsessionid=cyUVpTD9bVRnLuRIHTmIZA** - are the same as the cash fare, Muni could easily adopt the practice used by Golden Gate Ferry, where Translink customers get the "locals" fare while everyone else pays the "tourist" fare. Ultimately, Muni should go to a paperless system, although most agencies are hesitant to do so because of hiccups with the fare system. The one fare system that I found worked well was the Puget Sound ORCA. Everyone else either has agencies not reading transfers properly, agencies not accepting smart cards as fare media, or agencies not reading e-cash properly. Puget Sound, of course, has had experience with the Puget Pass and transfer upgrades are relatively straightforward - contrast that with LA where base value is a question when you are riding on services with express charges over base fare.

Ted King

More on TransLink :
I have heard that SFMuni is considering a mid-2010 switch to TransLink and killing off the Fast Passes. The problems I have with switching to the smart card are due to a lack of outreach and transparency.

Outreach) The TransLink pages linked to below do NOT go far enough. The third one, SFMuni fares, doesn't cover the possibility of an SF resident who never rides BART outside of SF. So will that person's e-pass (type "A"), with no e-cash loaded, still work ? That needs to be stated explicitly. Also, the negative e-cash balance lockout (#3's Fast Pass section, first paragraph) seems excessive. It would be nice for them to say why they have such a lockout. They also need to have more payment scenarios (e.g. SFMuni pass + BART High Value + e-cash or Samtrans pass + e-cash).

Transparency) How does one deal with card problems without using TransLink's customer service people ? Do the Add Value machines have a last-5 / last-10 transactions function like some ATM's ? If one wants to see one's transaction history (purchases and rides) where does one go ?

1) https://www.translink.org/TranslinkWeb/faq.do
2) http://www.translink.org/TranslinkWeb/muni/index.do
3) http://www.translink.org/TranslinkWeb/muni/fares.do
4) http://www.translink.org/TranslinkWeb/muni/faq.do

P.S. Here's another area of concern - Privacy. How much of your transaction history is retained and for how long ? If a search warrant for those records is served do they have a policy of notifying the card-holder ? Personally speaking, I would bite the $5 US (five dollar) card fee bullet and have two or more cards so that my travel history is not tied to one account.


Privacy is definitely an issue with Translink. They really REALLY want you to "register" your card and attach your name to it, which is what makes things like autoload possible, but it is certainly possible not to do that and just buy the card anonymously with cash and only refill it with cash, which is in fact what I've done with mine. There are also some issues with the fare systems: for example it doesn't support zone upgrades on Caltrain, so if you have a Zone 3&4 pass, and tag the card for a zone 4 to zone 2 trip, it'll charge you full price for that trip. Instead, you're supposed to purchase a paper zone upgrade, and present both that and your translink card to the conductor, which is just silly.

Ted King

More bad news from the SFMuni :


P.S. The F-Market fare increase has been pulled according to the above article.

Ted King

Links to more details are in this SFAppeal article :


Art Busman

The San Francisco cable car is a joke. When I took it, there was a ridiculous line to board at both ends, and there IS NO BOARDING along the route, because the cars are always full. This is a prime example of supply and demand. The price of $5 is too low. It is truly a tourist attraction, and if I did not have to wait in line and could board along the route, I would pay a much higher premium, $15 for an all day pass maybe even $20.

Ted King

6 Mar 2010 - Blog post at SFGate.com :
"How to fix Muni: Two views"


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