SF to pump fresh funds into SFMTA

San Francisco officials announced Monday that The City plans to infuse more funds to the normally cash-strapped Municipal Transportation Agency.

Mayor Ed Lee said he will propose in his budget an additional $48.1 million from a mix of the City’s general fund and from impact development fees into the SFMTA’s 2015-2016 budget.

Lee said the funds will help with the purchase of newer buses and light rail vehicles along with pedestrian and bike safety improvements.

Of the $48.1 million from The City’s budget, $17.7 million will go purchasing new 40-ft and 60-ft buses, $8 million toward a deposit for new light rail vehicles, $5.9 million for bike and pedestrian improvements.

Approximately $16.5 million in development fees will go to specific neighborhood streetscape improvements like Visitation Valley and 16th Street, according to the SFMTA.

Lee also said the SFMTA’s budget will include the additional hiring of over 200 positions including more transit operators, cleaning crews and mechanics:

“One of the challenges that have been historic at Muni’s ability to be on time and to make sure that the Muni system is running on time was that we had to have enough buses and trolleys out there that were not sitting in some mechanical shop waiting to get the treatment that it needed.”

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the transit agency’s 2015-2016 budget includes hiring, 171 transit operators and supervisors, 55 mechanics, 11 cleaning crew members and seven support staff.

The City’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the increased funding will make a difference for those who live, work and visit San Francisco:

“We’ll be able to do that by increasing the number of buses and trains that we have providing service, by adding service, hiring more operators, more mechanics, more car cleaners, more street supervisors, more trainers.”

Lee was joined by supervisors Scott Wiener and London Breed at Jane Warner Plaza to announce the additional funding for the transit agency. Wiener has been vocal about the lack of funding to the transit agency from previous city leaders.

Wiener said that he feels now that there is some agreement between officials that The City has to invest in public transportation:

“I am very, very optimistic about where this system is and where it’s going right now because we finally I think have a real consensus at City Hall among the mayor and the Board of Supervisors and the MTA board that we have to dramatically our investment in public transportation.”

Breed said that investing in public transit is important as more people are moving into The City:

“We’ve got it make it more reliable and more reliable faster.”

The SFMTA could get another infusion of funding from the Proposition A transportation bond approved by voters last November. The transit agency’s board of directors during its Tuesday meeting plans to recommend to the Board of Supervisors to allocate $49.8 million from the first issuance of the bond money for capital improvements toward Muni projects as well as pedestrian safety improvements.