Melgar: District 7 – A Total Transit Desert
Will MUNI move to reinstate transit lines to pre-pandemic levels? Supervisor Myrna Melgar (D7) thinks they should restore transportation services, and so do her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, who voted unanimously to pass the resolution — in fact nine of them signed on as co-sponsors. There are currently only 26 of the original 89 MUNI lines operating, and the hardest hit areas are in the neighborhoods. “Especially our more vulnerable senior and limited mobility communities are being left behind,” she said, “in District 7 we are currently living in a total transit desert.” Melgar finds much of her district cut off from essential services with citizens left alone to navigate many of the area’s steep inclines which have relied on community routes such as the 36-Teresita and 6-Haight-Parnassus.
In late January MUNI restored the T-Third light rail line, as well as the 27-Bryant, 33 Ashbury and the 15-Bayview Hunters Point Express. But no services have been restored on the west side of the City. Sources have sited the $68 million budget deficit in the next year and $168 million budget deficit the following year as reasons for the severe cutbacks in service.
In late January MUNI restored the T-Third light rail line, as well as the 27-Bryant, 33 Ashbury and the 15-Bayview Hunters Point Express. But no services have been restored on the west side of the City.”
Melgar’s office plans to focus efforts to coordinate service with the roll out of the vaccine, but in the interim, due to a lack of service, they want to see the Essential Trip Card (ETC) program be fully expanded to provide free trips to and from vaccine sites. SFMTA has assured Melgar’s office that they have the funding and ability to do this program for about 6 months. While considering SFMTA’s financial constraints, however, “as public health and vaccinating our seniors and community members with limited mobility is an equity issue, we have successfully collaborated with SFMTA to think creatively,” Megan Imperial, an Aide to Supervisor Melgar said. “Asking the SFMTA to respond has also opened critical conversations and is a first step to promising immediate relief. However, we still have a ways to go and will continue to be creative and work with the SFMTA and the Board to get better access to public transit.”
Melgar’s resolution calls for a plan to expedite services within 60 days and calls on MUNI to “develop a post-COVID transit service with stakeholder and community input, and to prioritize community routes and bus routes…” specifically of service to neighborhoods. The F, 6, 18, 21, 23, 31, 35, 36, and 52 lines have been shut down completely, leaving many people without the needed lifeline to their medical and dental services, grocery and drug stores, City services, work and restaurants as well as access to vaccine sites around the City. She said the replacements for light rail system lines: N-Judah, K/L Ingleside and M Oceanview have not been “insufficient.”
“We are actively working on a plan with SFMTA to ensure that any proposed next steps will have community input first,” Supervisor Melgar said.
By the terms of the Board’s resolution, SFMTA must respond, in writing by or before April 12th. The response, which should include a working proposal of public outreach for the hearing, should also provide at least a sketch of a service plan and an implementation strategy. They will have until November 1st to propose a plan to MTA Board, but Melgar’s staff has reported to the <em>Westside Observer</em> that “by the April date we would like to see a concrete proposal that the Board can provide feedback on.” It is assumed that the Board of Supervisors will have input on the proposal.