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Balancing MUNI's Budget, Replacing Nat Ford & Making Sure Bus Drivers Don't Go On Strike

Photo via youmanimus on Flickr.com

It's no secret that parking in the city is a bitch. So we've enlisted local parking guru and author of  Finding the Sweet Spot, David LaBua, to dish out weekly tips on navigating the ins and outs of city parking.

There will be a new chief of SFMTA next month. Nathaniel Ford will be leaving on June 30. The City of San Francisco will send him off with a $384,000 severance package which is comprised of one year of his base salary $309,000, plus unused vacation time, and extended health insurance. Ford leaves as head of the SFMTA with MUNI achieving a 71.1% on time rate.
 
In other parking news, the 2,000 MUNI operators union rejected a new contract that called for a wage freeze for three years. However, Proposition G, which was approved by voters in November, allowed the arbitrator to impose the contract. Prop G also removed the city charter mandate that MUNI drivers be the second highest paid in the country. Last year, the average SFMTA operator earned more than $109,000 a year in salary and benefits. The top earner behind the wheel last year made over $210,000.

There is an overwhelming consensus among readers that it would behoove SFMTA to try out the SFpark technology for a period, without simultaneously tinkering with the pricing model, in order to see if the congestion caused by people looking for parking is relieved. This would be good and honest science. Let’s hope that the new chief of the SFMTA has the wisdom to see this. 
 
But in case she or he doesn’t, let’s connect the dots for them using a little "new math".
 
Old SFMTA Math:
Huge Deficit + Huge Cut to MUNI Service + More Parking Tickets + Raised Meter Prices = An Enormous Deficit + Worse Service
 
New SFMTA Math:
$40M Deficit + $40M Savings = No need to raise meter fees or parking fines
 
For Those with Algebra Aversion Syndrome:
MUNI’s deficit this year is expected to be about $20 million, and it is expected to cost about $20 million to restore the recent service cuts. Total for both is $40 million.
 
Earlier this year the SFMTA admitted that they will give out more tickets in order to balance its budget, which is why (by logical extension) SFMTA has been planning to raise meter fees.
 
The recent ruling on the new MUNI operators’ contract changes work and overtime rules that result in saving the City close to $40 million.
 
This means that this coming fiscal year, beginning July 1, MUNI’s budget should be balanced. And if that's so, it's further reason for SFMTA to allow the SFpark experiment to proceed without the raising of meter fees. Whether or not reason will prevail…we shall see.
 
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