Muni’s 25 cent fare increase rolled out this week, leaving riders on Tuesday fumbling for an extra quarter as they boarded. And while for some the extra quarter was a nuisance, some were mad as hell.
“F*** them. I’m on a low income. I’m stretched at $2 already,” said Keisha Jackson as she waited for her bus at 16th street.
Dawn Horton’s medical condition keeps her reliant on Social Security. The cost of living and, now, the cost of public transportation rise constantly while her checks remain the same, she said.
“You gotta shop around to find things you can afford.” she said. “Now they’ve had to increase the minimum wage but we don’t get an increase in our SSI check.”
Rosalba Rodriguez, a student at City College of San Francisco who grew up in the Mission, said she has been reconsidering her spending on other items now that she has to spend more on her Muni fare.
Milo Southie, a coffee shop employee, takes a different approach: He doesn’t pay for the bus at all, because it would simply be unaffordable for him. Instead he jumps on and takes his chances.
“It’s increasingly impossible to get around the city,” said Southie, citing a two hour commute across the city. “If I had to pay for it every day I couldn’t afford to get to work.”
Nelton Chica, a quiet man waiting at 24th and Mission, said that 25 cents might not seem like a lot but for those who don’t make much money each month, it’s a lot — “un montón,” as he said.
“Twenty-five cents seems like it’s just a little bit, but the service is not that great either,” said Marta Carrizales as she waited for the 22. “It’s expensive for me.”
Carrizales has lived in the Mission for 20 years and has two children attending university. Her husband works for the postal service, she said, and she cleans houses for a living, but money is still tight.
“It’s more than I can afford every day,” said Mikey Buster, adding that transfers for only 90 minutes limit the system’s affordability further. “Muni police get on and it’s scary, if you’re a few minutes behind you could get a $75 ticket.”
Buster says she has been walking more, which, while good for her health, has made keeping a schedule difficult.
Jackie Long, 59, said she is at an age where she has no other way to get around but can’t get the senior discount yet. She called the fare increase “a hardship,” particularly combined with the cost of living. Long provides in-house supportive services to those in need and relies on Muni to get her all over the city to clients.
Several riders who said they could afford the fare increase remained indignant at what it might mean for other riders and at the service rendered for the cost.
Pam Berry gets a senior discount, but worried that the increase disproportionately affects the poor in a city where the cost of living has been rising steadily.
“It’s a squeezing out of people of lower incomes who depend on the city to get them to work,” Berry said.
“Twenty-five cents is 25 cents in our pocket, not in theirs,” said Darren Gonzalez as he waited at the 18th and Mission bus shelter. “I think it’s too much.”
Taiwei Lin, looking up from his magazine at a bus shelter on 24th street, said it doesn’t affect him personally, but he still objects.
“It’s a fairly large increase but you can’t see the improvement in service at all,” Lin said.
“They should start by cleaning the buses,” said Darlene Narvaez, waiting a few steps away from Long. She said that for such a fare increase she would expect to see improvements to the system, including better enforcement to discourage fare dodgers.
“It just makes me sick that people get on without paying and here I am, paying. It’s not even fair to the driver, they have to deal with a lot already,” Narvaez said.
Muni estimates ridership to reach almost 17,000 a day on the 22-Fillmore line, more than 19,000 on the 14-Mission and around 26,000 on the 49-Van Ness/Mission.
Discounted fares for those who qualify will remain unchanged, and several youth passes are available for free through Clipper Card. Standard Muni-only monthly passes went up by $2, to $68 a month.