Debra Walker – District 6

Debra Walker - District 6

Name: Debra Walker

Age: 57

Occupation: Artist / Small Business Owner

District: 6

URL for website:

Neighborhood You Live In: North Mission

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 a bicycle as my primary transportation and I often augment this with Muni and Bart.  In rare cases I use City Car share.  Most often I combine two or three of these modes of transportation to get where I am going.

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

I think that the primary concerns of Muni riders/owners in District 6 are the frequency and reliability of the buses.  Certainly the restoration of frequency in some routes is a priority, also the restoration or addition of stops to accommodate the elderly and those needing assistance in getting around.  I think that the inconsistent wait time for buses is a huge hurdle that prevents many from making it a primary source of transportation.

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 San Francisco County Transportation Authority administers and oversees the local transportation sales tax program (Prop K) and New Expenditure Plan, passed by voters in November 2003.  Since 1990, the Authority has been the designated Congestion Management Agency for San Francisco. The Authority leverages state and federal transportation dollars to complement local tax revenues and performs project oversight.  The Authority also tracks transportation system performance to ensure that San Francisco gets good value for its transportation investments and prepares a long-range Countywide Transportation Plan to guide future investment decisions.

I would suggest that priorities for the next four years are to implement the bicycle plan, to invest funds in the system to grow ridership, to help implement the major BRT projects to increase ridership across the city and to continue to “green” our system with the cleanest equipment.

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)

There have been many situations that I have been faced with as a DBI Commissioner and elected DCCC member that have had passionate members of the public on both sides of particular issues.  For example, I have worked with members of the housing advocate’s community as well as building owners to build consensus around the seismic retrofitting of buildings for years, and it has resulted in the placement of Prop A on the ballot this year.

We brokered a compromise that everyone is happy with and will hopefully result in the seismic retrofitting of many of our at-risk affordable housing units. I believe that it is my duty to keep an open dialogue and work to broker compromises that bring communities together and as supervisor, I will strive to build coalitions. In the absence of compromise, I will do what I believe is best for city residents and our future.

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

The Fix Muni Now ballot measure is sponsored by Supervisor Elsbernd and put on this November’s ballot by signature. The aim of Fix Muni Now is primarily to rescind the portion of the San Francisco Charter that sets the formula for Muni workers wages. I believe this is the wrong approach for dealing with our Muni problems and that this proposal does a lot more harm than good.  Prop G does not deal with the structural issues of governance for Muni that are, in my opinion, the main dysfunction with Muni.

6. One (of many) causes for Muni’s perennial budget woes was the illegal of state gas tax money by Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature which 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) future problems caused by the state?

– would you achieve savings through cuts to Muni’s budget, fare increases,

– or, do you have other ideas on how to get Muni out of its annual financial (You can choose more than one option, but just explain it clearly)

I definitely support new revenue ideas to fund our transit system.  I support a higher vehicle license fee, either based on cost or weight of vehicle.  I also believe that the only way to insure the viability of Muni is to significantly increase ridership. The best way to do that is to increase the level of service of Muni, increase safety on our buses and to make Muni dependable for the thousands of riders who use it daily.  I also want to look at partnering with our local small businesses to find ways of incentivizing businesses to encourage their employees to use transit.  I would support a well planned parking fee as well as a citywide development transit fee, expanding it from the downtown only fee.  I also believe we should set fees for shuttle systems operating in Sand Francisco as well as implementing a new fee for party buses.

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

I use a mix of modes to get around the city, and at least on this occasion, my transportation merry-go-round got the best of me. Recently, I loaded my bike on the front of a bus to get to my next meeting. I exited the bus, helmet in hand, and walked to my appointment, inadvertently leaving my bike to cruise around the city aboard Muni unaccompanied. I finished my meeting, and, thinking I had locked my bike at the corner, walked there and found nothing. As I sat there, convinced my bike was gone and quite despondent about petty crimes and the state of our City, the bus on the same line I had taken earlier returned headed the other direction, with my bike perched in front like a hood ornament. The driver was very happy to see the unloading of my free-riding bike and multi-modal I remain.

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