Muni route changes cause minor confusion

December 6, 2009 6:57:42 PM PST
The first day of major changes on Muni routes created some confusion Saturday, but Monday is expected to be a lot worse.

"We do think the word got out to most people, but there are always going to be some people that haven't heard," said Muni spokesman Judson True.

Muni is reducing service hours, eliminating stops and making other changes to more than half of its bus routes, but the cost savings will be minimal. Muni will be adding service to busy lines like the 19-Polk, but that means that other lines will have to get cut or eliminated altogether.

Joan McCaffrey and her boyfriend did not mind walking down Clement Street Saturday night, but they were keeping their eye out for the 2-Clement bus. They did not realize the bus does not go past 14th Avenue anymore.

"We were walking down from the beach," she said. "We were going to hop on the bus if it came, but not tonight."

About 60 percent of Muni's lines have been changed. Six lines were eliminated altogether including the 4-Sutter, 7-Haight, 20-Columbus, 26-Valencia, 53-Southern Heights and the 89-Laguna Honda.

"We had to close a $129 million budget deficit," said True. "The changes will bring us about $3 million in savings, primarily through changed operator schedules."

Muni officials say the first day of changes went pretty smoothly. They had some staff members riding around the city, watching for people who did not know about the changes. They say the biggest problem was a technical difficulty with their "Next Muni" signs.

"Some folks are looking at the signs and either it says 'error' or they get a ridiculous prediction like '70 minutes' or something like that, True said. "We're working to fix that issue."

Muni officials are hoping passengers will be patient with the changes. But, some are already predicting problems.

"I think it'll be a lot more difficult to get around and we're going to be waiting a lot longer in the cold," says Muni rider Mary Crabill. "So, that's kind of unfortunate."

McCaffrey says cutting part of her route will be an inconvenience for her, but she admits her neighborhood has other options.

"The 1 is over here and the 38," she pointed out. "So, maybe it was a good decision for one of them to be a little shorter."

Customers of Gordo Tacos managed to find the positive in all of the changes. The 2-Clement's old bus stop makes for a nice parking spot in an area where those are tough to find.

"Is it going to be this illegal place or this illegal place, because you can never park here," said customer Susan Hunter. "So, it's really nice they have changed the format just for them to be totally selfish about it."

Muni officials say Monday will be the real test, when people are in a hurry and going to work. They are hoping for patience and say they will be monitoring all the changes and adjusting what they can over the next few months.

For more information about those changes, visit www.sfmta.com


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