August 14, 2005
Advocates of a downtown transit tax like Michael Lyon (Letters, August 12) claim that businesses are unfairly subsidized by “having their workers and customers brought to them for free.”
But taxing ANYONE to pay for MUNI is an unfair subsidy to the transit agency, which has never fulfilled the promise of a better public transportation system that was the reason for granting it a monopoly on local transit in the first place.
In 1870 San Francisco had eight competing private streetcar companies, and by the turn of the century there were more than 1,000 transit vehicles serving a city population of only 350,000 (today’s MUNI runs only 978 vehicles to serve about 800,000 residents). For years the cost of riding on a privately operated for-profit streetcar was only five cents – even adjusted for inflation, that’s much less than tax-subsidized, money-losing MUNI charges today!*
Our city’s public transit has clearly gone downhill since government took it over. Let’s break up the MUNI monopoly and bring back lower fares and rider choice!
Outreach Director, Libertarian Party of San Francisco
3531 16th Street,
San Francisco, CA 94114
*Statistics from MUNI's website and a history published by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).