"Now it's just like the rest of them." Rider Christina Lowery said Muni is still reliable, but she is bummed out by the fare increases, which this year climbed to $2 a ride. Cunningham fears that eventually the price will go up even more. In fact, monthly passes have spiked to $55, and an additional $5 increase is expected next month.
Ford is aware of the financial burden on passengers and said no further increases are currently being considered to solve the budget crisis. Mayor Gavin Newsom also addressed the issue Dec. 3, telling the Guardian: "I don't want to see an increase in Muni fares."
At the moment, Ford said, SFMTA is "100 percent focused" on the route changes, although the budget crisis is always lurking in the background. "We are working with the MTA board as it relates to potential solutions to that $129 million dollar deficit."
As to the stalled proposal to extend parking meter hours that could bring in more revenue, the discussion is ongoing, Ford said. "We have committed to do some meetings with the business communities, and we will bring all of that back to the MTA board at some juncture in terms of making some decisions to close that budget gap."
But future service cuts and additional route changes are possible as a way of dealing with the "physics of our finances," as Ford put it. "Our budget continues to be a challenge but I think this is a great first step in increasing our ridership for the system by providing better service on those corridors that seem to need more capacity, more frequency."
The silver lining for Ford is that this rollout has forced his agency to take a hard look at streamlining Muni. SFMTA officials expect to make further changes and tweaks to Muni over the next six months. For now, you can visit www.sfmta.com or call 311 to see how your commute is affected.