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SF MTA Plans to Drown Waterfront Neighborhoods

I went to the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency’s meeting about their plan to close a $129 million budget deficit yesterday, and they plan on drowning the waterfront neighborhoods in the bath tub with service reductions that affect residents and businesses in Rincon Hill, South Beach, and Mission Bay. While they are increasing fares, they will stop N-Judah metro service at Embarcadero Station instead of allowing the trains to continue south to Caltrain station on the weekends. The excuse is that the service is redundant with the T-Third line … and “we have to fill a $129 million budget gap.” Dare I suggest they cut salaries (what organization really needs 8 (EIGHT) levels of middle management?!?) and wages ($26.77 an hour to drive a bus, not counting benefits, overtime?!?) like private companies are doing to adjust to the deflationary environment and weaker demand for goods and services going forward?

People who actually live in San Francisco know that the T-Third runs very sporadically … trains often right on top of each other instead of being spaced apart by 12 minutes or 15 minutes on the weekends. I’ve been told they cannot run two car trains on the T-Third tracks because of safety issues, meaning we’ll find ourselves stuffed into T-Third’s single car trains on the weekends to get to the Mission Bay Branch Library, the Mission Creek Park, Safeway, or, going northbound, to get to the Ferry Building farmers market or downtown instead of the roomier two car trains of the N-Judah line.

Where is the outcry of UCSF Mission Bay? Where is the outcry of the San Francisco Giants organization? Where are the outcries of businesses and groups, like Delancey Street, who are located along the metro line in Rincon Hill, South Beach, and Mission Bay and who will suffer because people won’t come down our way if it is not very convenient to get here via transit or cars. We did not make much noise when the SF MTA carpet bombed our streets with parking meters and “downtown” rates because public transit was somewhat viable – but if public transit isn’t viable and driving isn’t viable, where do we go for basic services on the weekends?

You and I also know that the SFPD are paid to supposedly ride the T-Third line for public safety purposes …. and let’s be frank, there are some juveniles who ride the T-Third line that make people feel unsafe with their adversarial, sometimes hateful (especially towards LGBT folks), and violent speech and actions. Have you ever seen SFPD on a T-Third line? Me neither.

I told the SFMTA representative at the information table providing answers about the proposed N-Judah weekend service reduction that they’re forcing people who live in Rincon Hill, South Beach, and Mission Bay to get into their cars and drive down to Daly City or elsewhere to do their weekend shopping and restaurant dining … not only to save on sales taxes but because the businesses in our neighborhoods are going to lose the incentive to stay open on the weekends or may have to close entirely because the T-Third service doesn’t cut it for neighborhoods with thousands of new residents moving in (and paying high taxes, I might add). We’ve already seen several restaurants discontinue their Saturday hours and other restaurants cut back hours of operation.

If the SF MTA wants to basically kill off public transit services on the weekends for the waterfront south of Market, we should ban together and start raising hell for the City and the Port of San Francisco to turn off the parking meters on the weekends in-kind. Don’t force us to leave the City and pay sales taxes to fund other cities with our basic needs purchases.

How can Rincon Hill flourish as a neighborhood if the residents have to leave in order to get basic services every neighborhood needs on the weekends? How does this help promote a “transit first” city policy when the SF MTA is planning on taking away Rincon Hill’s transit options on the weekends? What’s this about “Earth Day” and being environmentally conscious?

As Melissa Etheridge sings, we need to move and we need to wake up if we don’t want to become the neighborhood that bankrolls the City and County of San Francisco’s services for other neighborhoods while the City and County drowns us in the bath tub. If we don’t make noise, that’s what will happen. Are you ready to wake up?

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