You guys have all heard the statement from Newsom. He has asked transit officials to study eliminating fares on city buses, streetcars and cable cars and stated that it is feasible.
Call me a cynic, but the first thing that popped in my head was not the $$ we will save but the homeless population that will be taking refuge in the buses, streetcars and cable cars. They already do! It's already a problem when a homeless person sleeps in a MUNI bus....they tend to smell and the scent carries heavily throughout the vehicle. It's not pleasant. I can't even imagine what it will be like if MUNI is free for all!
As a daily MUNI rider, I have to say that I really don't think the situation would be any different. Every time the fare inspectors appear, there are always at least a few people on the train who have no valid proof of payment. I also see a LOT of people boarding buses through the back door.
I think that free transit is a good plan, ONLY if it is coupled with more frequent and reliable service. The money for this has to come from somewhere.
I think that congestion pricing on the Bay Bridge, and a vehicle licensing surcharge could easily fund improvements of this sort. But of course, that sort of idea would go over with the average car-driving commuter like a lead balloon.
I think it's worth a shot, but I agree the service needs to be up to snuff and law enforcement needs to be available to deal with the folks who don't know how to act in public.
The idea is a great one. Promotion of public transit is key to improving the quality of life in San Francisco I think. And clearly making Muni free will increase ridership, so a parallel improvement in service is necessary. Maybe if the companies that are underpaying their workers who take the bus to get downtown could kick in a bit...
If they did make it free, the cable cars should still have fares since many tourists take those things.
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