SFMTA releases the Muni Metro Modernization program

Mass Transit magazine recently published an article entitled “SFMTA releases the Muni Metro Modernization program,”

Below is a letter from Kathy Setian, Coordinator, Restore the J Workgroup, challenging statements in the article regarding the success of the J-Church Surface-only Pilot. SaveMUNI supports the Restore the J group and calls for continuation of J-Church service through the tunnel to the Embarcadero.

May 24, 2022
Dear Ms. Wanek-Libman,

I am writing to you in regards to an article posted May 4, 2022 on the Mass Transit website, titled “SFMTA releases the Muni Metro Modernization program”. The article discusses SFMTA’s vision and framework for the future, partially based on the outcome of a pilot of the J Church surface-only route. The article describes this pilot as “successful”. This description is gravely inaccurate for the following reasons:

1. The community reacted to the pilot program with active, sustained, overwhelming opposition because the pilot forced riders to disembark from the J Church, cross two multi-lane city streets and make an arduous transfer at an intersection identified by the City of San Francisco as “High Injury”. Community opposition was demonstrated by:

Hundreds of letters to MTA, the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors opposing the forced transfer.

More than 700 petition signatures opposing the forced transfer.

Citizens’ attendance and public comment at dozens of meetings (SFMTA Board, SFMTA Citizens’ Advisory Council, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and committee hearings, etc.).

A resolution passed unanimously by the SFMTA Citizens’ Advisory Council calling on MTA to end their failed pilot study and forced transfer for J Church riders.

2.On Dec. 7, 2021, the SFMTA Board of Directors unanimously rejected MTA’s proposal to make the pilot’s forced transfer permanent because reduced downtown ridership had eliminated the subway congestion problem, perhaps permanently, and MTA’s own data demonstrated ample capacity for the J Church to return to the subway. This Board resolution also resulted in ending the ignominious pilot program.

If, as your article reports, SFMTA continues to experiment with approaches “such as the J Church Surface-only pilot”, SFMTA management would lose credibility with the SFMTA Board of Directors and the public ridership, and their competency would likely be called into question.

Given the seriousness of this matter, I would appreciate it if you would post this response online. Thank you for your consideration.

Kathy Setian, Coordinator
Restore the J Workgroup

Press Release

May 9, 2022
For Immediate Release


SaveMUNI voted to oppose Measure A, the $400 million Muni bond on the June ballot at our special meeting on May 2. We consider this bond measure far too vague. It fails to identify specific cost-effective transit improvements and prioritize them for funding.

SaveMUNI specifically objects to legal language that provides the MTA with what amounts to a blank check. Although several categories of projects are listed in the measure, the phrase, “not limited to”, opens bond spending to almost any project imaginable.

SaveMUNI also wondered whether looming cost overruns attributable to the Central Subway will somehow affect the use of bond proceeds. The SFMTA’s reluctance to say how they will pay for the $353 million of excess costs raises skepticism in our minds.

SaveMUNI understands that bond funding is costly. There are estimates that the total repayment for this bond issue could top $ 700 million. We believe that a pandemic time-out is warranted. A temporary halt on new bond measures, pending revision of the city’s strategic transit plan, should be put in place immediately.

Muni needs a comprehensive citywide transit strategy going forward. It is clear that the MTA has been failing to meets its own performance metrics for quite some time. Now with ridership returning, it is time to move toward full restoration of service that better meets the needs of all San Franciscans.

SaveMUNI is an independent, all volunteer, organization advocating for improved transit in San Francisco. In keeping with this role, we sponsored a debate between proponents and opponents of Measure A, and afterwards sent a set of follow up questions to each side for further discussion. After considering the available evidence, SaveMUNI could not support Measure A.

Bob Feinbaum
President, SaveMUNI