19 Steps to a better Muni


Unlike an outlying suburban area, San Francisco is a densely built-up city in need of a world class public transit system. When Muni falters, the lives and livelihoods of 700,000 daily riders and 60,000 reliant small businesses are immediately affected. Because of SFMTA’s fiscal and operational problems, Muni currently fails to provide consistently reliable service on its 75 bus munistepsand rail lines.

Until this changes, beleaguered Muni riders will continue to experience slow downs and gaps in service, vehicle breakdowns and frequent over-crowding.  Fixing these problems will require basic changes to the current program.  Needed most are smart planning, optimal deployment and operations, improved street conditions, a superior vehicle maintenance operation, changes in working rules and effective use of capital.

With persistence, strong management and smart policy-making, Muni is capable of providing truly excellent service to riders and would-be riders.

Here are 19 proposals designed to get to that point 

(Updated January 26, 2015)

MTA Management:

1.  Every member of the SFMTA Board must be fully committed to optimizing Muni’s existing 75-line operation.

2.  Second and third tier SFMTA managers must be both qualified and dedicated.  Each of these managers should present public status reports of their respective operations to the SFMTA Board at least quarterly.

MTA Maintenance:

3.  Create a dedicated reserve fund sufficient to overhaul and replace deteriorated transit vehicles and other equipment when and as needed.

4.  Place a high priority on maintaining all Muni vehicles in a State of Good Repair at all times.

MTA Capital Improvement:

5.  Before promoting a capital improvement idea or proposal, determine both its cost-effectiveness and its effect on Muni’s annual operating and maintenance budget.  Publish these figures. 

6.  Before adopting a capital improvement idea, conduct and publish a bona fide Alternative Analysis inclusive of all potentially viable alternatives.  Publish this analysis.

7.  Return the peak-period carrying capacity of the Market Street subway to the level at which it was designed to operate.  That would more than double today’s capacity.

8.  Take the steps necessary to provide effective K and M line service between West Portal Avenue and the medians of Junipero Serra and 19th Avenue.

9.  To facilitate better Muni bus service, use bulb-outs where practical.

10.  Throughout San Francisco there are on-street obstacles of various types that unnecessarily delay transit vehicles along Muni’s 75 existing bus and rail lines.  Assign a carefully-selected in-house team the task of identifying and eliminating these obstacles.  Program should:

o  address the worst problems first

o  include appropriate outreach

o  produce visible near-term improvements

o  be completed in 18 months or less

11.  Assign a carefully-selected in-house team the task of making all Muni transfers as convenient for riders as possible.  Program should be completed in twelve months and lead directly to near-term operational improvements.

MTA Operations:

12.  To provide support to Muni drivers and help maintain regular service, deploy at least 50 Line Supervisors.

13.  Publish a one-page schedule showing Muni line frequencies throughout the day.  Make this schedule available to all riders.

14.  On flat ground along moderately patronized line sections, look for opportunities to increase stop spacing.  Closer spacing should be maintained where and as necessary to serve hilly areas, facilitate bus-to-bus and bus-to-rail transfers and accommodate the elderly, disabled and others with walking difficulties.

Traffic Management:

15.  Modify state and local traffic laws as required to give buses pulling away from stops the right-of-way.

16.  Place transit vehicles traveling along congested  streets in transit-only lanes during at least the morning peak commute period and, to the extent necessary, during the afternoon peak period as well.  To be effective, the transit-only lanes would have to be strictly enforced.

17.  To the extent necessary to maintain consistently expeditious and reliable Muni service, establish congestion pricing.

Regional Coordination:

18.  Establish close and continuous cooperation with BART, the TJPA, Caltrain, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Samtrans and other Westbay public transit operators….with respect to routing, scheduling, maintenance, vehicle storage, transfer stops, transit information and marketing.

19.  To give 280,000 motorists who enter San Francisco County from the South a classier and less troublesome way of traveling to and from San Francisco, CCSF should work with the Peninsula Joint Powers Board, Transbay Joint Powers Authority and the California High Speed Rail Authority to accelerate the extension of Caltrain into downtown San Francisco.


One Comment

  1. re: # 14 as a senior who carries groceries i feel more stops are needed, not less, on all routes flat & hilly.
    also i live near Laguna & McAllister on the #5 Fulton line and also daily use the Geary line. Also use the 14 Mission frequently. These lines have so called R or rapid buses which do not serve well those who don’t live near an R stop. On all 3 lines I have waited 10,15 & 20 minutes for a Local while watching scarcely-patronized 2 or 3 R’s go by. What’s the point? Is it just for the city to be able to say its buses are faster without actually spending money on enough drivers & buses to pick up the actual people in need at the places they wait?? I am a registered voter and will remember at elections this kind of duplicity.

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