THE ETHICALLY CHALLENGED SFMTA (02/22/11)
On several occasions I have had the opportunity to address the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The Commissioners sitting on the SFMTA have been playing with fire - with the many employees that work for the SFMTA and the public at large.
It all stems from the SF Board of Supervisors without discerning allowing the SFMTA to shun responsibilities and have less accountability and transparency and this all happened under the watch of Aaron Peskin - the former President of the SF Board of Supervisors.
Today, the SFMTA is in shambles. It must be noted that the Light Rail Fleet is devoid of sound operational software and for a long time many of the operations were conducted manually. There are issues with maintenance, suffice to say that the SFMTA Commissioners have not been TRUTHFUL with the constituents of San Francisco and less with the SF Board of Supervisors (SFBOS).
In recent months the SFMTA has been scrambling for answers but it cannot run away from the many LIES that it has been repeating over and over again. Now, there are so many LIES outs there - that the SFMTA has to face with reality.
It may come as a surprise that the SFMTA does not own any of the buses and equipment it has on its books. In order to get a write off and avoid liability in large measure - most of the equipment in owned by interests outside the United States- the only way they can make some investment money and take a write off. The SFMTA has a very poor Bond Rating and the SFMTA Commissioners have been aware of this for the longest time.
Director Nathaniel Ford has been seeking to jump ship and the sooner it does it the better. As a Black man some of us had some HOPE in him but the sucker has let us down. I hear he is applying to go to Washington DC to work at the Dulles Airport where plans are afoot to build an extension - some long Light Rail, a perfect opportunity to get rid of some rubbish. He will make more money there and add to his portfolio the screw ups in Chicago, San Francisco, but will not have to shy away from the many corrupt that make their abode in DC. I really do not want to get into the details into how the SFMTA invests, because anyway you look at it - it does the SFMTA no good - steeped with arrogance and more ignorance; no one is guarding the shop. I however want to speak to an issue or two about targeting the elderly and those that need help most as part of a dire need and a service well provided years ago by MUNI. Also, vouching for the San FranciscoTAXI CAB DRIVERS that have been taken for a WILD RIDE - by the SFMTA since they were included to be part on their jurisdiction by a Ballot Measure some years ago.
The Demographics of San Francisco are rapidly changing and the SFMTA is not aware of it; at least they do not seem to be aware of it judging from their nonchalant behavior. If, the SFMTA was aware of this fact it would not operate its fleet in a manner that adversely impacts the Elderly and those that need help most. More then half the constituents of San Francisco are over the age of fifty. Our population is about 816,000 according to the 2010 Census Report.
Anyone will tell you that the SFMTA has not been treating the Elderly and the Physically Challenged with respect. I say this because the SFMTA receives millions from the Federal Government linked to Transportation but does not do justice to the Elderly and the Physically Challenged when it comes to providing them with - quality services on the mostly dirty, stinking, littered - MUNI buses that Mr. Nathaniel Ford and his minions do not seems to be bothered about.
Right now the SFMTA is contemplating skipping a couple of stops on the many major routes with some cockeyed plan to move the buses faster. The Elderly and those that cannot walk long distances will be impacted. The SFMTA in their ignorance and arrogance must think twice if they want to forfeit the millions it receives from the Federal Government. I am going to Washington DC soon and will personally attend to the haughtiness, corruption, and ineptness of the SFMTA.
Some years ago the SF Taxi Cabs were brought under the jurisdiction of the SFMTA as I said not for the better but the worse. Since that time, all hell has broken loose and the SFMTA takes all the money it gets from the Taxi Tab dues and gives practically nothing in return. This nonsense has been an on going saga and played on the SF Government TV with no cure in sight.
The SFMTA meetings held in Room 400 where as it is the MUNI services and all that comes with that territory takes so much time. After that circus talks and light deliberation; the SFMTA will dare address the Taxi Cab members who will come and state their woes. The Taxi Cab drivers have much to say about the medallions and how they have to wait for years. The various fees they have to pay at the San Francisco Airport and at places. How they are ticketed by the SF Police Department. The illegal competition by rogue Taxis and limousines and so on and so forth. The SFMTA is playing with fire; when it treats the SF Taxi Drivers with disdain and the sooner it gets its act together the better.
The buses that come under the SFMTA are also known as the MUNI. The buses stink, they are not washed, add to that graffiti and you have a messy situation. San Francisco has been dubbed a Transit First City for all the wrong reasons. Sixty years ago the GRID was created to carry folks by Public Transportation to Down Town San Francisco. Nothing much has happened in all those years with much of San Francisco and its constituents living and moving to work in other directions
The Third Street Light Rail is a joke. It starts at 4th and King and ends in the middle of no where on Old Bayshore by Visitation Valley. Over $700 million was spent on the Third Street Light Rail Project and in all the years it has been in operation it has been an abject failure. Besides all the ruckus the passengers have to endure, the noise, graffiti, it is no uncommon to witness fights and listen to foul language. No one in their right mind will travel this route unless they have an armed guard travelling with them.
Plans are afoot to build the Central Subway below China Town and this will be another fiasco. Why are we wasting money? We once said the MUNI 15 Third did a good job. This one bus would take you anyway. Now, you have to get down when you take the Third Street Light Rail and board some other MUNI bus to take you to your destination. The Department of Transportation does not do a good job - evaluating and auditing - I can tell you this first hand. Our Federal Tax Payers dollars are wasted and this is completely - WRONG.
Folks litter the MUNI buses and there are no inspectors that cater to Health and Safety. Now and then you get some novice MUNI Ambassadors, occasionally some MUNI Inspectors but these folks are a waste of money because they have not been trained to do their job correctly. MUNI's own add where they watch a Seal performing tricks; how to get on MUNI without paying, is an apt advertisement portraying how dumb MUNI inspectors are?
As a matter of fact we cannot get any Empirical Data when it comes to the number of times these dumb MUNI inspectors are on any routes - inspecting, ticketing and so on. If these MUNI inspectors took notes and turned in any written reports that would help to improve the system and they would do some justice to their jobs and pay. On certain routes former gang members, folks that have little education are made to interact with the Public at Large paid stipends by MUNI - you can see that these so called Ambassadors have been given the job - just to placate some political entities.
Mr. Nathaniel Ford is the current Director and before him there was Michael Burns. Michael Burns before he left upped his salary to over $300,000 and when Nathaniel Ford came in and settled down he did better and upped it to over $350,000 with benefits. Both men have not put MUNI on track and both of them have too many excuses. As I said Nathaniel Ford is trying to leave and the sooner he does the better.
The thug Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. promised to fix MUNI and failed. Mr. Dipstick aka former Mayor Gavin Newsom tried to fix MUNI and he failed. Ed Lee the Interim Mayor will not touch MUNI and the next Mayor whoever he or she is - will try and good luck to her or him. MUNI is a mess and it will take a lot to fix this once good system that has been run down by corrupt Management and an even more sordid MTA Commission.