Dear Mayor Newsom
You didn’t have to spend City taxpayer money on private consultants. Anyone could have told you: Just like any other shared and limited public resource, public transit needs user fees.
Offering ‘free’ Muni is a destructive proposal. Muni rolling stock is not unlimited. Removing user fees distorts a natural and effective form of limiting the number of people that use Muni resources.
Muni needs to increase its quality of service. Removing user fees would decrease the quality of service. It would result in more crowded buses, leading to lower frequency and lower average system speeds.
Here’s the real Muni solution: increase quality (frequency, speed, reliability, cleanliness) on critical lines such as 38-Geary, N-Judah, or 14-Mission. Enforce real transit-only lanes that enable high speeds with true signal pre-emption. Prepare Muni to operate faster than a personal vehicle for trips on these ‘primary’ lines. Then, the City can increase user fees to $2 or even $2.50 for these primary lines.
Our residents don’t want free Muni. City residents are more than willing to pay for an effective transit system. It’s up to the City to provide an effective transit system and price it properly, not make a crappy transit system free.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy you’ve figured this out by now. It’s just silly that this advice cost tax payers $20,000+. I would have been glad to provide this advice for a bit less. Let’s say $10,000.
Let’s look on the bright side. At least you’re open to new ideas. Just talk to me next time and I’ll charge you half the rate of the consultants, and I’ll give you better ideas faster.