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Mayor, Eight Supervisors Promise to Ride Muni Every Day Until June 22

Supervisor Avalos speaks with Supervisor Wiener and SFTRU's Thea Selby in front of City Hall yesterday. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Supervisor Avalos with Supervisor Wiener and SFTRU's Thea Selby in front of City Hall yesterday. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The SF Transit Riders Union's challenge to ride Muni for 22 days kicked off yesterday with late sign-ons from Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisors London Breed and Mark Farrell, who had initially declined to commit. Supervisors Katy Tang and Malia Cohen still declined, and Supervisor Norman Yee has not confirmed a pledge since he tweeted a selfie on Muni after the challenge was announced in April.

Supervisors David Campos, Scott Wiener, John Avalos, and Eric Mar came out for the press conference at City Hall yesterday. Supervisor Jane Kim was expected, but reportedly unable to make it. Mayor Lee was also absent, though he signed on to the challenge Friday, according to SFTRU.

In April, when SFTRU announced the challenge to ride Muni for 22 days straight, early commitments came from Supervisors Kim, Wiener, Avalos, Campos, Mar, and Julie Christensen. Tilly Chang, executive director of the SF County Transportation Authority, also tweeted a ride photo and attended the event.

"When city officials regularly ride public transportation, they prioritize funding for a more reliable, robust, and visionary transit system to support it," said SFTRU organizer Thea Selby at the event. "A commitment to this challenge is a commitment to better serve the needs of the people of San Francisco."

"There has been a real lack of commitment to making the investments that we really have needed to make at Muni for decades," said Avalos. "We're now seeing that they're finally being made," he added, pointing to the voter-approved $500 million general obligation bond for transportation and a $48 million increase in the SFMTA's share of the general fund.

Avalos reminded the crowd that Willie Brown promised to fix Muni in 100 days when he ran for mayor in 1995. After he was elected, "He succeeded in doing just the opposite in taking care of Muni the way it needed to be done."

Supervisors Mar and Campos, right, at the press conference with SFTRU advocates. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Supervisors Mar and Campos, right, at the press conference with SFTRU advocates. Photo: Aaron Bialick

"We need to make sure that it's not just talk," said Campos, "but that we put our money where our mouth is."

A regularly-updated count of each official's rides is posted online on SFTRU's "Leaderboard." Officials are expected to tweet photos of their rides daily with the hashtag #OnBoardSF.

Though Mayor Lee didn't issue a statement about his pledge, he tweeted a photo yesterday morning of himself on a Muni metro train, saying, "On our way to City Hall!"

Christensen said she'd ride every line in District 3. Wiener, already a daily rider, tweeted several photos and a video this morning on a 24-Divisadero bus, which he said "needs a lot more service on it."

At the press conference, Mar said his ride only took 10 minutes on the 5-Fulton Rapid, which has received upgrades since 2013 as part of a pilot project, resulting in at least 2,000 more daily riders. "We need to do [those upgrades] for all," said Mar.

"Twenty-two days is going to be challenging for me," said Mar. "I have a 15-year-old kid that expects to be driven around." Mar said he'll be using a hashtag of his own, #MultiModalMar, since he'll also be biking and driving.

Long 1st day for others #OnBoardSF but @sfmta_muni is moving me quickly on #sf #5Fulton! #multimodalMAR Thx @SFTRU

— Eric Mar (@ericmar415) June 2, 2015

Some of the supervisors' rides were more typical of the problems riders face on Muni. Avalos, who has tweeted several photos of Muni rides, said he "made the mistake" of relying on real-time arrival info displayed on a NextMuni sign, and hopped on a K-Ingleside instead of a J-Church train.

Kim, who lives close enough to walk to City Hall in 15 minutes, tweeted yesterday that she waited 21 minutes for a 19-Polk bus to ride three stops. "Guess I'm late," she wrote.

SFTRU's challenge, said Wiener, will "make sure that we all never forget that we serve the riders of this system. We need to make sure we're showing our dedication and leadership."

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