Help get Muni up to speed with population growth in San Francisco: Vote YES on A & B in November

Joël Ramos Headshot

Crowded Muni car, by torbakhopper via FlickrUpdated 11/5/2014: Proposition A PASSED with 71% of the vote. Proposition B PASSED with 61% of the vote. Read a round-up of all 2014 election results here.

Dear reader, we hear your cry for “Better Muni NOW!” We know you are at your wits’ end, and simply can’t wait any longer for woefully overdue transportation improvements in San Francisco. No one likes watching crush-load buses and trains pass them up at the end of a long, tiring day. No one likes driving, walking or biking along dangerous streets with too much traffic.

To that end, we’ve got good news for you! Voters will have TWO opportunities to fund transportation in San Francisco on the November 2014 ballot, and TransForm is encouraging a YES vote on both Propositions A and B.

Complementing Proposition A (the G.O. Bond) that TransForm already endorsed, Proposition B will amend the San Francisco City Charter to increase the share of general funds allocated to transportation each year, based on population growth. If passed, Prop B will direct the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to finally prioritize funding San Francisco’s transportation system in a way that keeps up with our ever-growing population.

While Prop A will fund major infrastructure improvements, California law prohibits the GO bond to be used for the purchase of new buses or trains, or for annual operations costs. If passed, Prop B would allow San Francisco to purchase the sorely needed new vehicles we need to keep Muni from breaking down on us so frequently. It will also allow for an appropriate level of operations funding for public transportation to run more frequently and arrive on time.

In a nutshell, Prop A will allow for us to pay for rails and other capital infrastructure, and Prop B will allow us to pay for buses, trains, and service that is long overdue.

If passed, we can expect Prop B to result in a $26 million increase in 2015, and then a much smaller (but significant!) increase each year after that, to be allocated to our transportation system from the annual $8.7 billion General Fund. While that would be a small fraction of the General Fund, it would mean a lot more money for buses, trains and operations each year. Currently, each new annual budget funds transportation at the controller’s discretion, and there is no direction to increase the amount each year at all, despite San Francisco’s growth. It’s no wonder transit is so underfunded and unreliable! How could San Francisco possibly have delivered more service to an ever-growing population without a corresponding growth in general fund allocations? Over the years, this constant under-investment has resulted in $2.2 billion worth of deferred maintenance needs for our transportation system that everyone in San Francisco feels every day, whether walking, riding a bike, taking transit, or driving.

To put this all in a broader context: Prop A is just one part of a four-part strategy developed by the Mayor’s Transportation Task Force (the other three parts being a vehicle license fee, a sales tax, and a second general obligation bond all to be pursued years from now). Until we get all of those other measures in place, there will still be an annual $32 million gap in funding to get our transportation system running at sufficient levels of service. By itself, Prop A simply cannot do enough to sufficiently address worsening transit delays and dangerous street conditions.  The Prop B charter amendment cannot address this shortfall entirely, but it will offer us a bit more relief until the Mayor’s Task Force recommendations are all implemented. Once we finally get a vehicle license fee in place (perhaps in 2016, perhaps later), Prop B includes a clause that would give the Mayor the authority to eliminate the Prop B charter amendment, if she or he so chooses.

With the dire needs of San Francisco’s long-neglected transportation system in mind, TransForm urges San Francisco voters to cast a YES vote for Propositions A and B on the November ballot.

For more information about Proposition B or other San Francisco ballot measures, please contact Joël Ramos.

This is one in a series of voter recommendations that will be part of TransForm’s 2014 Election Guide.


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