Arriving soon: Higher Muni fares

Muni fares may soon be on the rise under a preliminary budget from San Francisco’s transportation agency.

The Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors continued budget talks at their Tuesday board meeting, which included increasing Muni fares for everyone as well as higher parking and permit fees over the next two years.

Under the transit agency’s automatic fare indexing, an adult single-ride cash fare would rise from $2.25 to $2.50 and discount cash fares for youth, seniors and disabled riders would increase from $1 to $1.25.

Monthly adult Muni Fast Passes with BART access would jump from $83 to $86 in 2017, and increase again to $89 in 2018. An adult Muni-only Fast Pass would cost $75 by 2018.

The potential fare increases loom as the transit agency faces a $13.5 million shortfall in 2017, and $14.3 million shortfall in 2018.

Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin updated the board on possible revenue generators, which include charging more to cash customers, having riders paying a premium for express service, and increasing the adult monthly Muni/BART pass $5 above the indexed price.

Another recommendation included having youth, seniors and disabled riders pay a lesser discount for fares. Fares are currently discounted closer to 66 percent, but Reiskin suggested to decrease the discount to 50 percent. The discount would still meet federal guidelines.

The SFMTA is considering charging an extra 25 cents to riders who choose to pay cash instead of Clipper. It would generate close to $4 million in revenue each year.

A 2014 SFMTA survey showed that 25 percent of riders making $15,000 or less paid their fares with cash. SFMTA Board Director Cheryl Brinkman had concerns over the data presented:

“I don’t want to penalize our lower-income riders like that.”

SFMTA Board Director Joél Ramos said riders who get a Clipper card benefits everyone:

“Everyone benefits including the person that would otherwise pay cash.”

Board directors did not like the idea of charging a premium for express service.

Peter Straus, a member of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, said the organization supported the fare discount for Clipper card users.

Strauss pointed out that most of the revenue generators were toward transit riders and not drivers:

“It’s an entirely inappropriate. I think we can all come up with something that I hope you would consider again is the Sunday parking rates.”

The SFMTA will next make a budget presentation with the Citizens Advisory Committee and also schedule a town hall budget meeting for the public on March 9. The budget will come back for discussion at the board’s March 15 meeting.

Board directors will have two opportunities in April to approve a two-year budget.