Measure for November ballot will address strains on transit systems arising from population and job growth, by increasing charter-mandated transportation funding based on growth, with funds dedicated to Muni reliability, frequency, and capacity, as well as street safety improvements
San Francisco, CA - Today, Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce a charter amendment, for the November ballot, to require that transportation funding in San Francisco, as established in the City Charter, be increased annually based on population growth.
San Francisco has experienced significant population and job growth in recent years - with population growing by about 85,000 people from 2003 to 2013 - and the city's transportation systems, particularly Muni, have not kept up with that growth. For example, Muni has more than $2 billion in deferred maintenance and also has chronic vehicle shortages. San Francisco is projected to grow by another 150,000 people by 2040, approaching one million residents.
The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) currently receives charter-mandated baseline funding tied to the City's general fund. MTA's current baseline funding is $232 million, and these funds are for all aspects of the agency, not just Muni. Supervisor Wiener's charter amendment will increase that allocation based on population growth and dedicate the bulk of that funding to Muni to improve the system's performance. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015, the allocation will increase based on population growth from 2003 through 2013 - an estimated increase of between $20 and $25 million - with smaller annual increases in subsequent years based on future growth.
75% of the funds will be dedicated to improving Muni's frequency, reliability, and system capacity. 25% of the funds will be dedicated to physical street safety improvements for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
"Our city is growing by leaps and bounds, yet we've allowed Muni service to stagnate and even back-slide," said Supervisor Wiener. "As we add housing, residents, and jobs, our public transportation system must keep up, or we will be in a world of hurt. Similarly, we must improve our street system's ability to handle increased population and usage safely and efficiently. Tying transportation funding to population growth makes a lot of sense and will help put us on a positive path as we continue to grow as a city."
Over the past year, Mayor Lee convened a Transportation Task Force, on which Supervisor Wiener served. The task force made several recommendations to improve transportation funding, including a transportation bond and a vehicle license fee for the November ballot. The bond will provide one-time capital funding for specific transportation projects. The VLF, by contrast, will provide ongoing sustainable funding for transit, roads, and other transportation needs.
Recently, it has become unclear whether the VLF will appear on the ballot. In the event the VLF does not appear on the ballot, the charter amendment Supervisor Wiener is introducing will ensure that ongoing transportation funding keeps pace with population growth. If the VLF moves forward, Supervisor Wiener will withdraw the charter amendment.