SFMTA board approves first Muni fare hike in years amid $12.7 million budget gap

Jerold Chinn
3 min readApr 19, 2024
The SFMTA will raise fares for the first time in four years after the agency’s board approved its two-year budget. | Photo by Jerold Chinn

Muni fares will increase for the first since 2019 as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency needs to close a budget gap of $12.7 million over the next two fiscal years.

Directors on the SFMTA board Tuesday approved its two-year $1.4 billion operating budget that includes reducing the Clipper discount for single-ride fares in 2025 by 25 cents and resuming its policy of indexing fares in 2026.

The single-ride fare using Clipper will rise from $2.50 to $2.75 next year, and $2.85 the following year. The agency for years had been offering a 50-cent discount for passengers using Clipper to incentivize more passengers to sign up for Clipper when first introduced. Transit officials said the incentive is no longer needed. Single-ride cash fares will remain at $3 over the next two years.

As single-ride fares on Clipper increase, so do the Muni monthly passes. The adult ‘M’ Muni-only pass will rise from $81 to $85 next year and $86 the following year. Adult ‘A’ passes, which include travel on BART within the city, will jump from $98 to $102 next year and to $104 the following year.

The SFMTA will permanently add an all-day pass for the California Cable Car line that transit officials said was popular during an initial six-month pilot last year. The agency’s Chief Financial Officer Bree Mawhorter said the pilot generated $77,000 in revenue during the pilot program.

Additionally, to help close the budget gap, parking fines will rise 8 percent each year in the two-year budget and taxi fees paused during the pandemic will be reinstated.

The SFMTA has not increased fares since 2019, but at the start of budget discussions during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, directors pursued to raise fares. City supervisors urged the SFMTA not to as residents and workers in the city struggled financially as businesses shuttered.

Directors and staff at previous board meetings this year have had robust discussions on the budget including whether the agency should get rid of its discount Clipper altogether, the return of indexing Muni fares using the agency’s automatic fare indexing policy and how much parking fines should increase.

At one point in the budget discussions, there was talk of raising parking fines by 10 percent over the next two years.

Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said at the board’s April 2 meeting that the agency is trying to get on the ballot for a measure this November and for a regional ballot measure in November 2026. The regional ballot measure will require a two-thirds voter approval threshold to pass.

“With this budget, what we’re trying to do is to build a citywide consensus in order to get a two-thirds vote,” Tumlin said.

The SFMTA faces a larger projected budget deficit of $227.5 million deficit in the 2026–2027 year when federal and state funding run out. The SFMTA and other Bay Area transit agencies are supporting a potential ballot measure in November 2026 to provide a sustainable funding source for transit operations. Senate Bill 1031, authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener and Sen. Aisha Wahab, seeks to authorize the ballot measure.

To address fare evasion onboard Muni, the SFMTA will hire 35 new fare inspectors to restore staffing to 2019 levels to improve fare compliance. Additionally, in a deal with state lawmakers for funding, the SFMTA had to provide a plan to address fare evasion.

Dylan Fabris, the community and policy director for the San Francisco Transit Riders organization, urged directors not to approve the budget with the fare increases, but instead increase the parking fines higher.

“It shouldn’t be SFMTA’s policy to fill this deficit by placing a larger financial burden on its most transit-dependent riders than its worse real parking offenders,” Fabris said.

The SFMTA’s budget now heads to the Mayor’s Office for submission and then to the Board of Supervisors for review and consideration for approval or rejection.



Jerold Chinn

I am a freelance reporter in San Francisco with over a decade of experience covering transportation in the city. Bylines include SFBay and The Ingleside Light.