Jim Meko – Candidate, District 6

Jim Meko, District 6

Name: Jim Meko

Age: 61
Occupation: Printer, Owner of The Best Impression print shop at 366 10th Street in SoMa
District: 6
URL for website: www.MekoUnites.com
Neighborhood You Live In: SoMa
Date Questionnaire Returned: 8/13/2010

1. How often do you rely on Muni to get you around town? If not, what do you use instead? What would make it easier for you to choose Muni over other forms of transportation?

I have not owned a car since 1969, and I ride my bike to get around town most of the time. I use Muni for trips outside of SoMa or the Civic Center area, usually 2-3 times per week. I ride the 9 and 47 bus lines most of the time when riding on Muni. I don’t know that there are any changes that would increase my use of Muni because I truly enjoy riding my bike, even at age 61.

2. What are the primary concerns of Muni’s owners (aka riders) about transportation and Muni in your District?

Many residents in District 6 do not own a car. They depend on Muni to get their groceries, to visit their doctor, to get to school, and to get to their jobs. The primary concerns are the increasing costs of riding the bus, overcrowded buses that pass by handicapped Muni owners or that do not accommodate mobility challenged persons very well, and bus breakdowns and delays due to underfunded maintenance of the fleet.

3. As a Supervisor, you will serve on the Board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. What is the role of the SFCTA, and what would you set as priorities for the agency in the next 4 years?

SFCTA oversees administration and delivery of transportation investments for San Francisco made with a half-cent local transportation sales tax. For future priorities, I would hope that SFCTA could better coordinate ‘Better Streets’ improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists at the same time roads are being improved for cars. Repaving roadways without adding pedestrian safety improvements are wasted opportunities to encourage more people to walk.

So long as local residents and business owners have a role in monitoring and amending the process, I would support an evening, workday outbound pilot program of congestion charges. Businesses and residents in downtown San Francisco need to see this as a potential solution to traffic congestion and air pollution. Many of my neighbors are under siege by cars every work day, and we need to find a solution to cut down on air pollution and help residents feel safe to choose walking or biking.

4. Difficult decisions often have to be made regarding transportation in San Francisco. Sometimes a well-researched project may have loud, angry opponents, or a popular project may not be the best for City residents and for San Francisco’s transportation infrastructure.

How would you make a decision under these kinds of circumstances? (Feel free to cite a similar situation from your past experience as an example – it doesn’t have to be transit related)

I spent many years representing SoMa on the Central Freeway CAC. I understand that transportation decisions are almost always very expensive and can have a huge impact on public safety, the environment, health, and local businesses. Decisions should be based upon empirical data if at all possible.

As Chair of the Western SoMa Citizens’ Planning Task Force, we fought to improve the transit provided in South of Market as a condition of building higher density housing exactly because we do not want to add additional private cars to the road unnecessarily.  In San Francisco, the Transit Effectiveness Project responded with changes based upon data and I believe we should be implementing those changes now.

5. What is the Fix Muni Now charter amendment? Do you support it? (Y/N) Why or why not?

Passing the Fix Muni Now charter amendment (Proposition G) is the first of many steps to help improve our city’s transit services. Most importantly, it removes the ill-conceived language that determines operator salaries from within our city’s charter with no regard to whether the City can actually afford to pay for raises that year. It also allows for more control over work rules and will hopefully allow for part-time operators to be hired to provide bus services during the morning and evening rush hours.

There are a lot of unnecessary costs that take away from our ability to operate a world-class transit system. Proposition G is not a cure-all for Muni, but it is the first action that we can take to turn things around from the current state of dysfunction. We need to fix Muni to improve our overall quality of life in San Francisco.

6. One (of many) causes for Muni’s perennial budget woes was the illegal seizure of state gas tax money by Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature. This has left a large hole in Muni’s income (as well as every transit agency in CA). How would you make up this gap in Muni revenue?

Would you support:

- a local funding source or sources (fees, taxes, or other type of revenue) to avoid future problems caused by the state?

- would you achieve savings through cuts to Muni’s budget, fare increases, etc.

- or, do you have other ideas on how to get Muni out of its annual financial woes?

(You can choose more than one option, but just explain it clearly)

I support the vehicle registration fee, measure AA on the November 2, 2010 ballot, that is specifically intended to help fund transit, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements. I support bus rapid transit lanes to help improve the efficiencies of our transit system (less fuel burned sitting in traffic). I support a pilot congestion charge for outbound, weekday evening traffic that would benefit Muni. I would push for part-time operators to service our Muni owners during the morning and evening rush. I would support parking meter operations on Sundays. I support demand-based parking meter rates.

A fresh look at our system of neighborhood commercial districts and how we might encourage more businesses to open could help add to Prop. K sales tax increment revenues for additional transportation infrastructure investments and maintenance. I would like to improve safety and reduce pedestrian and bicyclists injuries because safety should always be our first priority.

7. Finally, tell us a story about a funny or unique experience you’ve had on Muni.

I found my way to the top of Potrero Hill to check on a new loft development. After I boarded the Southern Heights bus to head back home to SoMa, the scenery all started to look unfamiliar. By the time I passed the sewage treatment plant, I knew things were awry. I learned more about the Muni system that day …

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