Name: Mark Farrell
Occupation: Small Business Venture Capitalist
URL for website: www.markfarrell.com
Neighborhood You Live In: Jordan Park
Date Questionnaire Returned: September 7, 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 use MUNI as often as possible â€“ especially to/from work.Â However, there are days when I canâ€™t because I am taking my kids to school or am attending a meeting where vehicle access is required.
It would be easier to use MUNI if we increased the level of reliability which includes necessary improvements in infrastructure and access.
2. What are the primary concerns of Muni’s owners (aka riders) about transportation and Muni in your District?
Primarily itâ€™s about reliability and ease of use.Â The people that live in my District, that use MUNI like I do (primarily to get to work downtown), need a system that will be as reliable as possible to ensure they can get to work and back home in a reasonable time, and count on service times.Â This is particularly true for parents and families who want and need an effective MUNI system for their daily lives.Â Residents in District 2 have also voiced concerns over articulated buses in purely residential parts of District 2, as well as the location of various bus route terminals in District 2.
I believe that having an engaged Supervisor that understands these issues, and works with both the community and MUNI, will be key to MUNIâ€™s perception in District 2 going forward, and I would look forward to being a central part of that dialogue.
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 is a key planning organization for transit in San Francisco that also administers a public sales tax dedicated to improving transportation and mobility.Â I believe the top priorities for the SFCTA should be (1) Accountability for public funds â€“ making smart investments of public transportation tax revenue, (2) Oversight of SFMTA Expenditures to ensure SFMTA projects are efficiently implemented and service plans make sense for the City, and (3) the Environment â€“ reducing emissions from transportation and through better land use planning.
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)
San Francisco needs an infrastructure overhaul â€“ itâ€™s that simple.Â While it is tough and financially painful decision, this has to happen if we are going to move our City forward on economic development and job creation.Â As the Supervisor in District 2, my role will be to listen to my constituents, and also make decisions based on what is best for San Francisco.Â I do believe that this City-wide perspective has been missing at City Hall for some time, and we are starting to pay the price as residents.
5. What is the Fix Muni Now charter amendment? Do you support it? (Y/N) Why or why not?
Yes, I do support Fix MUNI Now â€“ in fact, my campaign made it a priority to gather signatures during 2010 to help place the initiative on the November 2010 ballot.Â I believe that this initiative is an essential step towards fixing MUNI, and completely endorse the measure.
I am supporting Fix MUNI Now because I donâ€™t believe the pay of our MUNI operators should be locked into our City Charter, and because I believe a number of the current work rules MUNI operates under are both astounding and fiscally unsustainable.Â For example, workers that are allowed to not show up for work without cause has caused huge gaps in MUNI service.Â From a taxpayer perspective, this is simply wrong.
Fix MUNI is a great first step to helping our public transportation system get back in better fiscal shape, improve service and provide resources to rebuild infrastructure.
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 think we need to have a top down review of MUNIâ€™s budgeting and contracting process.Â Those of us with actual financial management and budget experience know that, in any budget, efficiencies can and should be made â€“ whether thatâ€™s a review of service, eliminating duplicative positions or simply a better cash management process.
However, we need to start with â€“ as stated in question 5 â€“ a complete overhaul of the current labor contract.Â While I support the incredible work that the men and women of the MUNI system are doing every day, we need a contract that is both fair to our City and to the workers that support us.
7. Finally, tell us a story about a funny or unique experience you’ve had on Muni.
Still to date my favorite memory on MUNI was as an 8th grader growing up in the Marina.Â I used to take the 22 Fillmore and then 30 Stockton home from school each day (in high school that turned into the 28 and 29), and one day my friend and I transferred onto the 30 Stockton and sat right in front of Ronnie Lott, who at the time was a star safety for the San Francisco 49ers.Â We rode the bus with Ronnie for about 10 minutes, and as a young 49er fan, had the most incredible conversation.Â He was one of my football idols at the time, and by riding MUNI and laughing together, demonstrated he was truly part of the fabric of our City â€“ not just a star football player.Â Chance encounters with friends, colleagues or even star football players is part of what I love about MUNI.
*Mr. Farrell returned his questionnaire on time – but because I didn’t have time to post it right away, it got posted late. However, he did manage to turn it in at deadline.