Should SF Break Up the SFMTA?

News is emerging that Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safaí are asking their colleagues to undo San Francisco voters’ 1999 merger of the agencies overseeing Muni and what was then the Department of Parking and Traffic. When the SFMTA already struggles to deliver safety improvements in a timely fashion, adding more bureaucratic and political obstacles to every single project would further impair the City’s ability to meet our Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

See our letter to the Board of Supervisors below, cosigned by SF Transit Riders, SPUR and Walk SF, and add your name today. If we speak up together, we can stop this effort to further impede our City’s ability to deliver more bikeable, livable streets.


Dear President Breed and Supervisors,

We write as advocates for progressive and effective transportation policy to voice our strong opposition to the City Charter amendment being introduced by Supervisors Peskin and Safaí. This amendment purports to improve the performance and responsiveness of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) by breaking it into two separate agencies: one responsible for Muni operations and another overseeing parking and traffic. It would also enact governance changes to the two new agencies by modifying appointments to its board and by giving the Board of Supervisors additional legislative responsibility for changes to parking, traffic and policy approved by the new agencies’ board. We strongly oppose this proposed amendment for the following reasons:

Increased bureaucracy. When San Francisco voters created the SFMTA in 1999 and strengthened its authority in 2007, they voted for sound governance, combining transit operations with transportation policy and engineering. Splitting the agency into two entities again would reverse the progress voters made and create an unnecessary duplication of services, decrease coordination in planning, policy making, and operations, and cost taxpayers untold millions in additional City expenditures.

More unnecessary process and politics. San Francisco currently struggles to make improvements to transit and our streets at a pace that matches the growth in jobs and residents the city has experienced over the past decade. Voters recognize this and twice in recent years have rejected introducing more process and politics into the City’s transportation management – voting resoundingly just last year against a charter amendment to split MTA Board appointments between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. Adding an additional layer of review to every proposed bus stop, parking space and bike lane promises to further slow the rate of such improvements. People who live and work in our city need better transit and safe streets delivered more quickly. Further politicizing the process by which those improvements are approved will only slow things down.

Contradicts Transit First policy. Being a “Transit First” city — a policy enshrined in our City charter — means that San Francisco makes transportation decisions that prioritize and encourage modes of transportation other than private automobile use. Decoupling the operations of transit from the planning and design of our streets is a step backwards from Transit First, threatening the City’s ability to achieve its ambitious Vision Zero and Climate Action Strategy goals. San Franciscans deserve safe, affordable and reliable transportation choices. The SFMTA is a an imperfect institution, and we acknowledge that much must be done to improve its responsiveness and performance. Rather than fixing the SFMTA’s shortcomings, however, this charter amendment will compound them. It brings a hammer to a problem that requires a scalpel, breaking up an agency that has worked to incrementally improve transit and traffic amid an influx of tens of thousands of additional vehicles in recent years.

On behalf of the tens of thousands of members and San Franciscans whom we represent, we urge you to oppose this charter amendment, and we look forward to working with each of you to improve the experience of moving around San Francisco. The health and wellbeing of our neighborhoods, businesses and residents depend on it.


Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Rachel Hyden, Executive Director
San Francisco Transit Riders

Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director

Jodie Medeiros, Executive Director
Walk San Francisco


Sign onto our letter today to let Supervisors know that you oppose adding more bureaucratic and political obstacles to every single street safety improvement considered in San Francisco.

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