Some riders of San Francisco Muni buses could pay an extra dollar

March 16, 2009

Would you pay an extra dollar to ride a Muni express bus? If you pay a cash fare you might have to do just that, under an idea being considered to help offset big cuts to the transit agency’s funding.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is scheduled to discuss its budget for fiscal year 2010 at a meeting 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and one of the ideas covered in a presentation prepared for the meeting is to charge cash-paying express riders an extra buck: “Currently approximately 25,700 passengers ride the express routes daily. Assuming that 20% pay cash fares, increasing the cash fare by $1.00 over regular cash fare” would yield about $1.4 million for Muni.

If the SFMTA Board likes the idea, it would present the proposal — and any other potential changes to fares — at public meetings in April, according to documents prepared for Tuesday’s meeting.

In a related development, on March 10 I filed my long-time-coming article on Muni express service with crowd-funded journalism site Spot.Us. Spot.Us tells me they anticipate either publishing the article themselves or reaching an agreement on selling the piece very soon, perhaps even before Tuesday’s SFMTA meeting.

I spoke with Muni spokesman Judson True and Transit Effectiveness Project manager Julie Kirschbaum for my story, and I asked them about the idea of charging express riders a premium on top of the regular fare — something that came up in 2008 but didn’t go anywhere. True told me at the time that although the idea was still out there, he didn’t know that anyone in Muni was considering it actively, but it looks like changes to Muni’s revenue and spending projections changed that pretty quickly.

More information on Tuesday’s SFMTA meeting, including an agenda.

A PDF of the presentation on Muni’s fiscal year 2010 budget.

Watch a stream of the SFMTA meeting live on SFGTV2.

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Update on my Muni express bus story pitch

December 11, 2008

I’m really pleased to report that I’ve almost reached full funding for my story about San Francisco’s Muni express bus service on spot.us!

Muni may be watching its funding get yanked out from under it right now, but that makes it even more important for Muni to run well with the resources still available. And clearly, people are interested in why Muni doesn’t run more expresses to serve the needs of daily commuters. As of the afternoon of Dec. 11, my story pitch for crowd-funded journalism site spot.us was just $60 away from full funding.

And — super cool — San Francisco blog SFist ran a little piece about my story pitch. Thanks, SFist! Read the SFist post at http://sfist.com/2008/12/09/can_muni_run_more_express_buses.php.

A more detailed update is available on my YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/tpretesf. Or just watch the video below.

For more information about my story idea, spot.us and how crowd-funded journalism works, please visit http://www.spot.us/pitches/39.

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Another transition priority: Teach Obama to salute

November 9, 2008

In all the activity undertaken by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama and his team to begin governing Jan. 20, I hope someone remembers to teach Obama to salute properly.

I’m not talking about this business of whether he did or didn’t salute the flag on one occasion early in the campaign (and whether it mattered). What I mean is that Obama not only is going to have occasion to salute U.S. military personnel on a regular basis, he’s going to be doing it as commander-in-chief — and the people he’s saluting deserve the respect a proper salute shows. Besides, a lot of people are going to be looking for reasons to criticize Obama, and the last thing he needs is to start throwing around a ridiculous, loosey-goosey salute to be captured in photos and video, or some overly stiff parody of the right form.

About.com has an extensive article on saluting. Or, as the following video advises, just relax.

Parting Shots: I don’t remember the occasion of the interview, but I remember once reading that Ronald Reagan recalled that when he was taught to salute, he was advised that the proper way to move his hand was to “bring it up like honey and throw it away like shit.”

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Making sense of San Francisco’s Nov. 2008 election

November 5, 2008

If your head’s in a spin trying to take in the results of yesterday’s election and you live in San Francisco, take a long lunch this afternoon and pop over to SPUR’s post-election analysis. Expert political numbers man David Latterman and the witty and astute Alex Clemens will explain what happened at the polls yesterday — and how it fits into the context of local electoral politics.

The focus of SPUR’s election analyses usually is on San Francisco, but this time it’s certain to include discussions of the state and federal elections as well.

This regular event has grown over the years into a required piece of post-election analysis for everyone interested in San Francisco elections, so expect a crowded room along with unique insights.

It starts at 12:30 p.m. and runs to 2 p.m., tacking on an additional 30 minutes this time to handle the huge ballot. Five bucks for non-members and free for all SPUR members. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, 312 Sutter St. at Grant Avenue (an easy walk from BART or the Muni Metro, with limited bike parking right out front). Note that this event takes place not in SPUR’s offices, but rather on the second-floor meeting room of the World Affairs Council.

SPUR

David Latterman’s Fall Line Analytics

Alex Clemens’ Barbary Coast Consulting


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John McCain quits campaign on a classy note

November 4, 2008

In spite of a few raucous boos from the audience, Arizona Sen. John McCain capped his 2008 campaign for the

Sen. Jouhn McCain

Sen. John McCain

presidency of the United States tonight with a concession speech that recalled the dignity and grace of the way he conducted himself in the early stages of his campaign.

The late-stage McCain campaign went into the ditch in a number of ways, not only losing the race for the White House but also tarnishing the senator’s reputation in the process. McCain, however, reclaimed a big part of his personal reputation with his concession speech. He admitted defeat but also urged his supporters to consider the good of the country and work with the next president.


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Barack Obama wins election, makes history

November 4, 2008

Remember this night well, because it’s something you’ll tell your grandchildren about, even if you voted for the other

Obama stencil found on sidewalk in San Francisco Aug. 24, 2008

Obama stencil found on sidewalk in San Francisco Aug. 24, 2008

guy. Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America.

Obama’s election as the first African-American president is a watershed moment, and if this great country is very lucky it will be a moment that inspires a new generation of Americans to work for the common good, to strive for and achieve things they had perceived as out of their reach, to recognize that the promise of this nation is and always has been theirs.

Tonight is a night to remember.


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Vote, vote, vote!

November 4, 2008

I’ve emerged from under the cruel thumb of my baby-borne cold too late to write anything of significance in advance of today’s election, unfortunately. But on the plus side, I feel pretty good now, which probably also has something to do with the fact that I’m basking in the afterglow of casting my vote in what has been a fascinating election on the federal, state and local levels.

Voting feels good. Go vote.

Polling place sign, November 2008 election

Polling place sign, November 2008 election