Last Fall, SaveMuni and the SFMTA’s Customer Information System department discussed the Muni Next Bus System and how it could be brought it up to standard. Here is some of what’s needed:
What is displayed on the dispatcher’s screen, driver’s screen, rider’s cell phones and the electronic signs at Muni stops should appear at the same time and all come from the same data base. The system should be configured to make certain that it keeps track of all Muni vehicles at all times.
When a dispatcher assigns a particular vehicle to a particular route, key strokes should instruct all screens, not just his or her own screen. Radio communications between dispatchers and drivers are too prone to error to be used for scheduling changes.
Given GPS, if a driver runs ahead of schedule or is delayed the riders should know about it just as soon as the dispatcher does. Factors that cause drivers to get behind schedule should be systematically eliminated. Drivers who run ahead of schedule should be penalized. Except in emergencies, drivers should not be permitted to go off line or come on line without having first notified the dispatcher. Subsequent dispatcher actions should immediately and automatically inform and update the Next Bus System. Unscheduled interlining and turn-backs should be similarly handled. In all cases the screens of the drivers, rider cell phones and Muni electronic signs should be automatically and instantaneously upgraded.
Given GPS and good communications software, there is no reason why riders can’t be kept fully informed as to the whereabouts of all oncoming Muni vehicles at all times.