Muni review aimed at fixing service

February 26, 2008 7:42:47 PM PST
How do you fix Muni? After an 18-month, $3 million dollar study, San Francisco city officials have some suggestions. They unveiled draft recommendations from what's called the Transit Effectiveness Project.

It's the most comprehensive review of Muni in more than 25 years and is designed to transform the system.

"We have the data collection at the bus stop level in terms of people boarding the buses, getting off, their travel patterns," says Nathaniel Ford, Muni Executive Director.

3,000 customers were surveyed and 90 percent mentioned reliability as their number one concern. The recommendations to improve reliability call for dramatic redesigns. The study found 75 percent of Muni's ridership is concentrated along 15 corridors, including the 14 L line in the Mission. The key suggestion is to put more resources on those busy lines to provide more frequent stops and faster service.

"Coming out here sometimes, like two buses just passed back to back didn't wait," says James Thomas, Muni rider.

However, beefing up busy lines would have to be balanced by eliminating other lines . That's going to be very controversial for riders like Gunilla McCoy.

"I don't want them to eliminate any lines because we need them all. They're so crowded."

There are also suggestions for more dedicated bus lanes, special traffic signals, and other congestion management tools.

The transit study notes that driver absenteeism is down, which helps reliability, but offers no proposals regarding problem drivers. The Mayor says Muni's union is working on that.

"These guys have stepped up to the plate. Muni labor and they want to see the bad apples weeded out as much as anybody else, but they also don't want to see their drivers scapegoated," says Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The project proposals are just that -- proposals. There have been more than 50 community meetings so far, but no changes are expected until 2009.