Save Muni Comments on Muni Task Force Report

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Malcolm Heinicke, Chair
Gwyneth Borden, Vice Chair
San Francisco MTA Board of Directors

Re: Report of the Working Group on Muni Reliability

Several members of Save Muni observed the sessions of the Working Group. We reviewed the draft final report and find some recommendations to be valuable, especially those related to recruiting operators and maintenance personnel.

However we are disappointed that the recommendations failed to deal with the following critical issues:

LRV Coupling– The Muni Metro subway is currently operating at about 40 % of its potential capacity. More capacity is best, and most cost-effectively, provided by longer trains which can only be provided by enroute coupling.. The Muni Metro needs to be able to couple short trains traveling to the outer parts of the city into 4 and possibly 5 car trains to run between the West Portal and Duboce portals and the east end of the subway.

We are unconvinced that a new train control system, costing at least $ 400 million, could come close to making up for the foreshortened subway trains. And we do not regard the attempt to squeeze more riders into the new LRVs as a proper strategy to compensate for inadequate subway operation.

Save Muni recommendation: Enroute coupling at the portals should be a top priority for improving Muni service

Management Audit – The Working Group discussed MTA’s currently dysfunctional hiring process. But that is hardly the only dysfunctional aspect of the structure set up under Propositions E and A. The MTA has nearly doubled in size since its founding. There are now over 6,000 employees, of which only 1/3 actually operate Muni vehicles.

It has long been known that there are significant problems with accountability and internal communications within the SFMTA. Top managers have often found it difficult to find out what is actually going on down in the ranks. Save Muni has long called for a comprehensive management audit of the agency. And we believe that such an audit would provide the new head of the MTA with the tools he needs to streamline and modernize the organization.

Save Muni recommendation: Conduct a comprehensive management audit of the MTA and follow up with audits on a regular basis.

Muni Riders Bill of Rights – Although the Working Group’s report contains verbiage about the desirability of community input, there is no specificity about how that will be achieved. Save Muni believes that a Riders Bill of Rights would be an important first step toward better service. Riders should have the right to a safe, reliable, comfortable and convenient ride every time they step onto a transit vehicle in San Francisco. That means riders are entitled to assurances such as: timed transfers between major lines, reliable electronic signage at every stop, prompt response to incidents on transit vehicles and at transit stops and clean vehicles that do not break down or turn around without warning.

Save Muni recommendation: Adopt a Riders Bill of Rights to enable Muni riders to participate in creating service that works for everyone.

Bob Feinbaum
President, Save Muni

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