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Upgrades to Muni facilities, train control system face funding hurdle on June ballot

San Francisco voters this June will decide on a $400 million bond measure that would help fund infrastructure improvements to aging Muni facilities.

In a second reading Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved placing the Muni Reliability and Street Safety Bond on the June 2022 ballot that would focus on maintaining and upgrading the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency facilities in an effort to improve Muni service.

The bond measure requires two-thirds approval by voters in order to pass.

Of the $400 million, $250 million would go towards repairing and upgrading Muni’s infrasture, such as the agency’s bus yards, maintenance facilities and equipment. Some Muni bus yards are over 100 years old. Funds from the bond measure would also fund on-street improvements to improve Muni service, including wider sidewalks for faster boarding and installing more transit-only lanes.

The bond would also help modernize Muni’s antiquated automatic train control system, which will expand train capacity in the subway and expand the system at street level. Transit officials have previously said the bond measure could help get matching federal funds to help pay for a new train control system.

In a statement, SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said:

In order to compete for upcoming federal infrastructure funds, we need a local match. The bond helps ensure San Francisco is ready to receive federal grants to upgrade our aging infrastructure and improve street safety, transit accessibility and Muni service.”

Other uses of the bond measure include funding capital projects to improve street safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists.

While supervisors approved the ordinance unanimously, Supervisor Connie Chan said at the first reading of the ordinance on Feb. 15 that she voted for the ordinance with a lot of reservation:

Right now, we’re about to hand them another $400 million with very little progress showing how they can do better with capital improvements. Very little progress showing us and ensuring us that they’re delivering these improvements on budget and on time.”

She mentioned projects, such as the Van Ness Improvement Project, as a project not completed on time and was also chastised by the Civil Grand Jury last year in a report.

Chan made amendments to the ordinance with a focus on equity and accountability, adding that the SFMTA’s plans on how they plan to spend the money lacked details. One of the amendments included providing an annual bond report to the mayor and the board on the bond program.

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