Matthew Drake – District 6

Matthew Drake

Matthew Drake - District 6

Name: Matthew Drake

Age: 38
Occupation: I am the general counsel of appMobi
District: 6
Neighborhood You Live In: SOMA
Date Questionnaire Returned:  August 27, 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 live in the middle of SOMA, so I can walk almost everywhere.  I’ll usually bike or take Muni if I’m going somewhere that’s too far to walk.
2. What are the primary concerns of Muni’s owners (aka riders) about transportation and Muni in your District?

As with every district, Muni’s cutbacks have caused problems. Many low income residents of District 6 rely on Muni exclusively, so the service cutbacks hit them particularly hard. Although generally District 6 has good mass transit coverage, some parts of the district are underserved by Muni, in part because people didn’t live here when the Muni lines were created many years ago.
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?

The SFCTA should continue work to improve mass transit and street quality in San Francisco.  The Transbay Terminal is a long term project, but the SFCTA should continue to support it, because high speed rail is the single most important thing California can do to fight global warming in the coming decades. On a smaller scale, I support additional spending on Muni, especially the BRT program, as noted below. Additionally, the SFCTA should continue to support additional bike lanes, especially now that the CEQA lawsuit is past us.
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)

The obvious example is BRT on Geary Street.  It has some loud opponents, but as noted below I am a strong supporter. We can give everyone a chance to be heard, but at some point we will have to move forward and make potentially unpopular decisions.  We cannot accommodate everyone.
Another example is the Transit Effectiveness Project, the first top down look at Muni’s routes in many years. We need to fully implement the TEP’s recommendations to improve Muni for everyone.
5. What is the Fix Muni Now charter amendment? Do you support it? (Y/N) Why or why not?

Yes.  I’m a strong supporter of Prop. G.  Right now, the Muni operator salaries are not negotiated. I believe that their wages should be subject to the same collective bargaining as almost every other city employee.
The real problem is not with Muni’s high wages, it is with the work rules for the employees. For instance, if an operator does not want to come to work, he or she can just not show up.  There’s no need to notify a supervisor. If we want a functioning system, we need to have reasonable work rules so the department can adequately plan its operations.
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’m a strong supporter of the Bus Rapid Transit projects, especially BRT on Geary. Faster Muni service would bring in more users, which would provide more fare money for additional service.  As busses move more quickly, drivers complete more runs per shift, so the increase in service would not come at a significantly higher cost.  This is a rare situation where we could provide better service at a lower operating cost.
We have been talking about BRT for many years.  We must not let it be derailed or delayed. It would probably bring in additional revenue to Muni and improve service.
7. Finally, tell us a story about a funny or unique experience you’ve had on Muni.

When I tell people I’m running for office, more than one person out of the blue has said to me that the one thing they want is for their Muni bus not to smell like a toilet when they’re going to work in the morning.  It’s not actually funny; it’s more of a sad commentary of how low expectations are.
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