SFMTA faces parking citation shortfall; Muni Metro delays addressed

SF Public Press
 — Nov 8 2010 - 11:39am

It's grim news for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency which faces a $5.8 million budget deficit for the first quarter of the 2011 fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Acting Chief Financial Officer Terrie Williams of the SFMTA, which is in charge of Muni and parking and traffic, presented the report to the board directors at Tuesdays SFMTA meeting. In the first quarter, only $56.7 million was received from parking and traffic fines, $7.5 million less of what the agency had budgeted.

Events such as the playoff games at AT&T Park and the St. Frances Circle construction project played a role in the decrease of parking citations, said Williams.

As many as 20 parking control officers were pulled from their regular duties for the St. Frances Circle project, said Transit Director John Haley. And officers were also shifted to AT&T Park during the Giants World Series run. Haley said he is working on a plan to recoup some of the lost revenue from parking citations.

Muni Metro delays

A series of delays in the Muni Metro underground system over the past two months were blamed on computer and equipment problems.

The first problem was a signal malfunction with the automatic train control switch, which allows light-rail vehicles to switch to automatic when they enter the underground tunnel.

“When that switch fails, the trains have to go to manual mode which causes the system to slow down,” said Paul Rose, SFMTA spokesman.

Haley said the company who produces the automatic train control provided a software upgrade, which solved the problem of the switch malfunctioning.

The most detrimental delays occurs when the signal cable in the underground is cut, according to Haley. He said metal sharp objects hanging from the bottom of the light rail vehicle is to blame for the cable being cut. It's been happening about an average of 12 times a month. The signal cables allow communications between trains and control signals throughout the subway.

One of the objects called a sander hose, which disperses sand on the tracks for traction, has been the culprit for three incidents involving the cable being cut.

Haley said before the cables are replaced, he will first look at the objects under light-rail vehicles, including the sander hose to see what improvements can be made with the device.