Photo by Laura Wenus, Table Courtesy of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

Is $32 an Hour Too Much for Muni Drivers?

The sickout continued today with only 440 of the city’s 600 vehicles in operation to deliver its 700,000 passengers a day to their destinations. The math tells you two things – the buses will be packed and most likely late.

In her Muni reporting on Tuesday, Laura Wenus picked up a lot of anger toward Muni drivers, now earning $29.52 an hour and rejecting a $32-an-hour contract because of unhappiness with having to pick up some of their pension costs.

It’s worth noting that while drivers make much more than the city’s minimum wage of $10.74 an hour, $32 an hour would be enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment, but not a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, according to the National Low Income Housing Coaltion’s 2014 report. 

San Francisco ranks in the report as the country’s most expensive city.

Correction after a reader pointed out that $32 an hour would be enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

  1. $32 is above the one bedroom San Francisco rate according to the page you included.

    • Yes, correct. I guess what they are making now is just below it. Best, Lydia

      • A Muni driver expecting to live in SF is like a New York bus driver expecting to live in Manhattan. Not everyone gets to live in the toniest parts of a metro area. Housing in decent parts of the East Bay is more affordable, and a reasonable commute by public transit across the Bay. (getting from BARt or AC to Muni barns is a drag, but a Muni driver complaining about Muni service is a joke.)

        • That is just spewing stereotypes, what about actual data?

          The median household income in Manhattan is about 60k. Isn’t that shocking? And yes they have tremendous wealth inequality.

          The fact is that Manhattan actually has a large amount of low income residents as well as subsidized and rent controlled housing. Of course it’s hard for new people to move in… But probably much easier than to SF.

          Here is a striking visualization of Manhattan wealth distribution:

          And why wouldn’t workers lobby for cost of living increases in the most expensive city in the country? With the cost of living rapidly increasing? Note that all areas surrounding SF are also undergoing cost of living increases. It’s a problem you just can’t export. Not to mention that there is a dearth of housing all around here.

          The incredibly sad truth is that the current boom is positive for a small segment and heavily negative for the majority (aka renters, the young, people operating for the greater good for salaries not scaled with the cost of living).

          • In NYC, city government owns something like 20% of all housing units and keeps them affordable.

        • All too many Muni operators commute from the exurbs into San Francisco, perhaps 3-5 hours per day and then they drive for 8 hours.

  2. If operators were paid based on the value they add, they’d be making $500K each.

    • Public transit provides a range of economic subsidy via increased efficiencies that boosts the economy measurably. If operators were compensated according to the economic contribution that their role in the provision of transit amounted to, they’d probably pull $500K.

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