Muni Drivers' Union Head Rips Pending Service Cuts

Categories: Public Transit
Oily bus.jpg
Jim Herd
End of the line
As you may have heard via every newspaper, blog, TV station, and town crier in the realm, Muni is planning drastic service reductions as of tomorrow. Yes, you'll pay more and get less. But you don't have to like it.

Irwin Lum sure doesn't. The head of the Transportation Workers Union bemoans the cuts as both a disaster on both the microscopic and macroscopic levels. The big picture: Slashing service and raising fares during a down economy is counterproductive. The small picture: Your commute is going to suck.

"The lines that remain are going to be much more crowded," he says. "As much as people try to inform riders of the changes this Saturday, probably a lot of people aren't going to know about it until they go out to work on Monday and the bus isn't there. They are going to be pissed off at that first operator when they get onto the bus."

A number of ancillary routes aimed at easing the congestion on Muni's workhorse lines will be cut or done away with. Lum predicts pain on major routes. He points out the 10-Townsend will be no longer running to North Point. That means folks living near the terminus will now have to hop the 30-Stockton -- one of the city's most crowded lines -- or board the F-Market -- also crowded, and not the city's speediest.

Lum also noted that the 53-Southern Heights and 67-Bernal Heights have been eliminated -- meaning residents of the Potrero Hill housing project and Alemany housing project now have no dedicated service. "Those are the people who don't have time to make their voices heard at city hall and MTA meetings," he said. "They were the first to get cut. The silent ones got screwed, basically."

Finally, Lum adds those working late into the wee hours will also have a harder time getting home.

When asked what else Muni could have done to make up its $129 shortfall, Lum pointed out that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger syphoned billions in state funds away from transit this year. This is true -- and he was successfully sued over this move by the California Transit Association -- but that has little bearing on this year's problems. Lum then suggested bond measures (good luck with that) or enhanced parking meter hours (good luck with that, too -- really).

"I think the big issue is, that stimulus money should be used to offset [transit] operating costs rather than just capital projects," said Lum. "If we keep building buildings and no one's going to be in them at the end of the day -- what's the point?"

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