Recently, San Francisco’s MUNI released a revised budget proposal for the 2009-2010 fiscal year that calls for eliminating bus routes or sections of bus routes and cutting back on service and jobs, in an attempt to get out of the $129 million budget deficit. MUNI has proposed three options for eliminating routes and segments of routes and reducing service. Option 3, the hardest hitting, would allow for a 6.3 percent reduction in service hours-ultimately saving muni $17.8million. They are also increasing the cost of services such as monthly passes, which will go into effect on July1st. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, city transportation officials warn that service may erode-which is what happened during a budget deficit in the mid-1990’s, when a shortage of drivers, maintenance workers, street supervisors and schedulers made for an unreliable system plagued by frequent breakdowns and missed runs, leading to widespread public anger and frustration.
So what will the result of eliminating routes and jobs, while raising the price of a monthly pass? Will MUNI become less reliable and erode just as predicted by city transportation officials. Perhaps regular MUNI riders will decide to bike around town, instead of relining on the bus-which would be a great way to offset some the inconvenience these cuts will no doubt induce. But if there are more bikes on the streets, and, because our city is not anywhere near being 100 percent bike friendly (i.e., the lack of a suffient number of bike lanes and aware drivers, etc.), then there will probably be more bicycle accidents. And if some regular MUNI riders decide to take to their cars, this will probably create more traffic, which will, in turn, produce more impatient drivers and a higher potential for injury accidents. And if the system does erode, then the safety of MUNI passengers might very well be compromised if the buses they ride are not properly maintained or if drivers become disgruntled and care less about looking out for their passengers. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we can’t help but see MUNI’s proposed budget cuts from fearful point of view. Over the past few years there have been too many accidents between buses and bikers and pedestrians, despite MUNI’s efforts to improve service. So we worry about the effect budget cuts will have on the citizens of San Francisco.