Save Muni Minutes – August 20, 2018

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Present: Bob Feinbaum (Chair), Jerry Cauthen, Mari Eliza, Herb Weiner, Peter Donohue, Howard Wong, David Pilpel, Roger Marenco, Cassandra (driver), Ed Mason, Angelo Figoni, Eileen Boken, Mark Miller

Topics Covered: Muni Union Driver Report, September 29 Forum on the Future of Transportation, and Geary BRT

Meeting was called to order at 5:30 PM

Roger Marenco, a former Muni driver on the 38 Geary route, is now president of TWA 250A (Muni Drivers Union) spoke and requested support for the Muni personnel he represents.
He claims the agency failed to plan and/or planned to fail for the current operator shortage and major Muni meltdown. They had months to plan to prepare for the shutdown of the tunnel. At least one warning from a SFMTA has surfaced that corroborated these claims. Since the tunnel disaster, more details have been uncovered that point to a level of mismanagement and/or incompetence that is hard for our city officials to ignore.

When a fatal accident occurred in the West Portal tunnel, investigative reporters discovered a history of serious safety violations that SFMT failed to unearth in their haste to approve the contract.

Roger read Mayor Breed’s letter that was published in the SF Examiner, leaning heavily on Ed Reiskin and demanding improvements in the Muni service and the loss of public confidence in his management of the department. The Mayor is finally putting SFMTA on notice, ordering the Controllor’s office to produce reports on the performance of the Muni.

Cassandra, a Muni driver, claimed the training does not properly prepare the drivers. The training programs are not sufficient to make the drivers feel confident or safe. There is also a problem with the hiring process, that creates a shortage of drivers by forcing them to work on a part time probationary basis with no benefits for months, and then extends the probation for longer. This process has created the shortage in operators. 45 runs have disappeared. SFMTA’s Policy and Governance Committee prefer part timers.

Asked if the union can get involved in recruiting, Roger says the union offers to recruit have been ignored by the SFMTA. The TEP and Muni-Forward improvements are merely smoke and mirrors, not helping the operators at all. There is a disconnect between telling the drivers to drive faster and safer. Drivers are encouraged to drive faster but when they are involved in an accident, regardless of who’s to blame, they are put on notice and reprimanded. Same thing happens when the drivers are attacked. It is their fault as far as the SFMTA is concerned.

The schedules are another Pandora’s box. It is not possible to predict incidents that cause delays, such as accidents, roadwork, construction, double parking, bikes and pedestrian behavior, demonstrations, re-routing, etc.

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Asked about the upcoming MOU, Roger said the union joined the SF Labor Council in meetings with management. The council agreed that given the huge SFMT budget, including the additional $60 million Breed mentioned in her letter, the unions are unwilling to roll over
and take abuse from the department. Roger is seeking alliances with other organizations, such as SaveMuni.

Save Muni members engaged in discussion of how to use the SFMT Board meeting on 8/21 as a platform for comments on Reiskin and the Geary BRT. Bob agreed to write letters to the Mayor and to the MTA Board about the red lanes on Geary and the importance of making a strong appointment to the MTA Board.

September 29 Forum on the Future of Transportation – Bob reported on planning for the event. This is a big topic so we will focus on: increasing Muni ridership, the role of TNCs in the future of the city’s transportation and congestion pricing as one mechanism for reducing congestion.

Peter Donohue talked about developing a transit assessment district for San Francisco. He has worked with other cities to develop such districts.

Eileen Boken mentioned that she attended the meeting of the Tri State Commission (Transportation Commissions from California, Oregon and Washington) and heard presentations on Road Use Charges (RUC) which is akin to congestion pricing.

Geary BRT -Mark Miller talked about the new plan to allow non-public “buses”, defined as carrying 9 or more passengers, to use the Red Lanes.. Mark suggested coming to the MTA Board to oppose the Geary BRT as presented and suggest some amendments such as restricting the red lanes to public transit buses only.

Meeting ended: 7:40 PM

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