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…
Tag Archives: Mayor Ed Lee
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.
Photo by Steve Rhodes.
Off his election win last week, Mayor Ed Lee appeared before the San Francisco Supervisors for question and answer time at Tuesday’s meeting.
Supervisor David Campos asked Mayor Lee if he would commit to reducing work orders related to the SFMTA by 20 percent for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Campos said that city agencies such as the San Francisco Police Department should not be using funds from the transit agency on non-related transit programs.
Mayor Lee’s response:
“Well I agree that we need to find a way to achieve significant cost efficiencies for Muni, I don’t know that I’m convinced that reducing MTA work orders is the best way to do it. A work is simply an agreement to provide services. Reducing work orders well generally mean MTA must provide the services themselves, which in just about all cases will be in areas that they are not and they do not have core competences. Either that or they’ll have to purchase those services from elsewhere, potentially third-party venders. It’s not as if demanding a reduction of work orders will necessary lead to a commensurate decrease in the need for services to keep the Muni system running efficiently. One work order that often gets targeted for reduction is the work order from the San Francisco Police Department’s traffic division. MTA work orders. Some work orders… some to the SFPD traffic division for assistance from officers in managing the streets effectively, which also helps increase Mun’s travel speeds. Reducing this work order would reduce SFPD’s traffic presence on the streets, which would impinge on our ability to manage traffic effectively and would lead to reduce safety and service speeds. So again I’m not so sure I would support reducing work orders to SFPD traffic. However, this is just one example and I’d be happy to discuss more specific steps with you. Like I said, I’m certainly open to exploring areas where work orders could be reduced to enhance service and bring down costs. But doing so one without the other would be counter productive. That said, I think bringing Muni’s costs down… will more likely to come from other strategies such as work rule savings under Prop. G. We could see impacts from this in the current and future fiscal years. Also we need to stay focus on implementing recommendations from our Transit Effectiveness Project. Once the environmental impact report is complete, which were aiming to finish in mid-2013. That’s not to say that this is the entire universal potential cost savings. I’ve asked Mr. Reiskin to begin a stakeholder dialogue to try to think outside the box a little to find new innovative ways to address MTA’s budget concerns that we may have not considered previously. I know MTA is starting that process now. I share your concerns about ensuring Muni has adequate resources to provide reliable and quality services to our riders and agree attempts must be made to identify additional funding for Muni. I am committed to working with MTA, their board and this Board of Supervisors together on that effort.”