Riders will start seeing new buses on San Francisco streets this week after city and transit officials unveiled Muni’s new fleet of hybrid buses near Pier 48. The 62 new biodiesel-electric hybrid buses will help replace Muni’s aging fleet of motor coaches, which have been service for more than…
Category Archives: Mayor’s Office
Photo by flickr user Brandon Doran.
Update 01/17/12: Muni spokesman Paul Rose said the 14L-Mission will begin servicing the Daly City BART Station on Jan. 23 not Jan. 21 as originally reported by Director Ed Reiskin.
Thanks to all my readers for making 2011 a great year. Expect even more coverage of Muni news in 2012. I’ve been on a tiny vacation, but I’m back and ready to provide Muni riders important information about their one and only Muni. With that, I bring you Muni news for Tuesday’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting – the first meeting of the New Year.
Fresh off his inauguration, Mayor Ed Lee will appear for his monthly question and answer time with San Francisco supervisors. Supervisor John Avalos will be asking about Lee’s commitment for access to transportation services to some of San Francisco’s residents who live in the southern part of the city.
Avalos brings up the question in light of the announcement of the 14L-Mission extending to the Daly CIty BART Station beginning Jan. 21, according Muni chief Ed Reiskin. Avalos said he is “pleased” to hear about the extension, but wants to make sure Muni riders are able to use their Clipper Card with the Muni Fast Pass / BART combo on BART. It currently won’t work because it’s in Daly City. The combo pass only works at San Francisco BART stops.
He said the issues needs attention or ” this service is set up to fail before it even begins.” I plan to follow-up with the MTA to see what they plan to do about it.
Resolution to “encourage” MTA to deal with overtime
Overtime is nothing new over at the MTA. Muni makes up a huge chunk of overtime costs. Supervisor David Campos is sponsoring a resolution to “encourage” the MTA to plan and develop in adopting a policy to deal with overtime costs that keep increasing every fiscal year. MTA projects a to spend $57 million in overtime for 2012, according to Debra Johnson, the MTA’s director of administration. It’s about $27 million more than what was originally budgeted for the fiscal year. You can see why the board is pushing the MTA for some sort of policy.
San Francisco transit workers got an unexpected holiday bonus, of sorts, after winning back a contested $8 million in health care payouts that the city initially refused to give because it was trying to cut its 2011 budget.
Mayor Ed Lee said Tuesday that he agreed with the decision by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to relinquish the funds to the Transport Workers Union 250-A.
The union, which represents Muni operators, sued the transit agency for $8 million earlier this year for not disbursing a special health trust fund. The transit agency withheld the payment traditionally given at the end of the year after intense labor negotiations, saying it faced a budget shortfall for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Lee said the payment did “raise my eyebrows,” but he agreed that the payout was needed. “We owe that money, and while we won’t have to make a similar payment in the future, this one was already, as they say, on the books.”
The fund was set up to help compensate Muni operators for health care benefits because they received fewer benefits than other city employees.
But Supervisor Scott Wiener objected to the payout at the mayor’s monthly appearance before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Wiener said the payment was “contrary of the spirit and goals” of Proposition G of 2010, which allowed the agency to abolish the yearly payouts to Muni operators. But the last labor contract ended June 30, which, the union contended, entitled the workers to one last year-end payout in 2011.
Lee said Proposition G would lead to improvements in the system. He said the transit agency is making progress implementing the new labor contract by hiring part-time drivers and making schedule changes.
“I feel confident that the voters will see benefits of Prop. G starting this year and going forward,” Lee said. “In the future I’m looking for a renewed commitment to push forward work-order reform and other efficiency savings that we’re now allowed to do under Prop. G.”
Muni spokesman Paul Rose said the agency the initiative would save the city $13.7 million a year just on labor costs. Some of the savings have yet to materialize, such the hiring of part-time drivers.
Since June, the transit agency has already racked up a $28 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year, and its finance office now projects an $80 million budget for the next two years.
Mayor Ed Lee will appear one last time this year in front of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to answer policy questions on Tuesday. Two of the questions are have to do with Muni asked by Supervisors Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen.
Wiener wants to know what the mayor thinks of the recent payout of $8 million to Transit Workers Union 250-A, the union that represents Muni operators. The union sued the transit agency for not dispersing a special trust fund to operators during the pass year. The MTA board directors decided to settle behind closed doors last week.
Wiener adds that he wants to know what the mayor generally thinks about Proposition G, the initiative passed in 2010 by voters that gives MTA administration more leverage in wages and eliminates the special trust fund.
Cohen on the other hand wants to know if the mayor would support a T-Third express bus. She cites the success of the Nx-Judah express bus and the poor on-time performance of the T-Third line and constant switchbacks.
All of this will be going down at City Hall on Tuesday at 2 p.m., Room 250.
It was a Muni double whammy at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Government Audits and Oversight committee as transit officials presented their response to a work order audit from the city’s Controller’s Office and addressed the transit agency’s overtime.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency accumulated about $62 million in work orders paid out to other city departments for their services, according to the audit. The audit was the focus of whether or not the transit agency had complied with several recommendations made two years ago, such as establishing MOU’s with city departments and making sure billings are properly filled out.
But Supervisor David Campos, chair of the government audits committee, wanted to know if the work order expenditures were transit-related. “The issue comes down to what is the connection between the MTA money being spent and the services at hand… what is the connection between theses services and public transportation? That me is what the question comes down to,” said Campos.
The MTA’s Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose told Campos that the agency does make sure the work order is transit-related or else “we wouldn’t be paying for it.” Campos was still not convinced and asked the City Attorney’s office if there are guidelines in the City Charter as to what can be a work order, but there office had no answer at the hearing.
At the time when they transit agency faces another budget shortfall for the current and future fiscal years to come, Campos and Supervisor David Chiu question whether or not some of work orders should be billed to the transit agency.
“I really have for several years really tried to understand what value are really getting with the $60 million. Is that money that could be better used at other places,” said Chiu.
Although this was more of compliance audit, the Controller’s Office said it was happy to look into the specifics on what exactly the MTA work orders entailed.
Muni overtime going over budget… again
Up next was a look at how the transit agency plans to lower overtime. Campos said that in order for the agency to balance its budget, Muni needs to have a plan in dealing with their overtime. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation has been the number one city department, which spends the most on overtime and usually goes over its budgeted overtime.
A look at the FY 2010-2011 SFMTA overtime:
$33 million budgeted for overtime FY 2010-2011
$54 million actually spent in overtime FY 2010-2011
Total overtime spent by city departments: $90 million
And 2012 is not looking so great either. The transit agency’s administration director Debra Johnson said the transit agency is on pace to spend $57 million in overtime, a $25 million difference of what the agency had originally budgeted.
Johnson said though that the MTA is dealing with the overtime specifically with the hiring of part-time drivers, which Johnson said will help curve overtime. Another part overtime comes from vehicle maintenance, according to Johnson. She also went on to say that the agency will now have a written overtime policy in place.
“There will have to authorizations from the division director in the absent of Director Reiskin, meaning if we have some circumstance, late hours at night, somebody will have to call their division director within the Muni family for instance and say I need this person to go out on an overhead line. So they’re not just doing it willy nilly like,” said Johnson.
The MTA said it believes they can reduce overtime by 10 to 15 percent by next year, which equals to about $5 to $10 million, according to Johnson.
Chiu made reference to Groundhog’s Day because of the many times this issue has been brought up and how not much has changed. He wanted to know who is the person held accountable.
“Where does the buck stop for saying that this number is going to be driven down?” said Chiu.
Johnson replied by saying her and other division directors and Director Ed Reiskin.
Campos ended by referencing past MTA administrations for “insufficient management,” which has put the current MTA administration in this position today.
“Unless we do something about that, these issues will remain issues,” said Campos.