Save Muni Comments on Muni Task Force Report

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. (more…)

Save Muni Letter About Transit Funding

Aaron Peskin
Chair, County Transportation Authority

For the past decade, Save Muni has advocated for better transit in San Francisco. We believe that successful transit-oriented development depends on the availability of safe, reliable, convenient and comfortable bus and rail service.

We agree with the recent resolution by the Board of Supervisors that asks for “increased transportation incentives” for “areas impacted by SB50” Clearly, as Supervisor Gordon Mar noted, it is essential to provide sufficient new funding to deliver the additional transportation infrastructure and service needed to support increased housing development

San Francisco cannot ignore the fact that Muni is unable to deliver its currently scheduled service. To approve greater housing density under the pretense that adequate transit service is now available would be the height of folly.

Too often transit fails to keep pace with amplified growth. By way of example, the Transbay District rezoning was predicated on construction of a regional transit hub with Caltrain’s Downtown Extension (DTX) connecting to multiple bus lines and BART. But the DTX has not been built, and tens of thousands of cars coming from the Peninsula still clog San Francisco streets and impede Muni service.

Save Muni supports the Board of Supervisors efforts to assure adequate funding for transit. We applaud other groups such as BATWG and the SF Transit Riders for their stands and agree that SB50 should be amended to put transit funding at the heart of transit-oriented development. (more…)

SAVE MUNI MINUTES – September 16, 2019


A public debate on San Francisco’s proposal to tax rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft will take place on Monday, September 16. The 6 p.m. forum sponsored by Save Muni, a transportation think tank, will focus on November’s ballot Measure D. The debate will be held in conjunction with Save Muni’s monthly meeting at the Northern Police Station (Turk and Fillmore).

Measure D’s proposed tax on Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) has unanimous support of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, Mayor Breed and Uber and Lyft. A coalition of community activists and taxi workers has recently challenged the measure.

Tim Hester of Safer Streets & Better Transit Coalition will argue in support of Measure D. Sue Vaughan, transit advocate and member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s CAC, will speak in opposition.

Open to the public, the debate may offer the only in-depth look at the measure before the November 5 election.

Save Muni will also elect officers for 2019-2020 and discuss other transportation issues.

A Brief History of the Muni Metro Subway


Angelo Figone, Transportation Consultant; Former Chief Transportation Officer, Rail

Planning History:
The concept of a Market Street subway dates to Muni’s formative decades with a “ Report on Rapid Transit for the City of San Francisco With Special Consideration to a Subway Under Market Street” issued in 1931 by City Chief Engineer M.M. O’Shaughnessy. Subsequent studies throughout the 1940s and 1950s culminated with the establishment of the BARTD system and the collaborative effort to build a two-level subway with BART and MUNI rail operations. Begun in 1967, the subway construction was completed in 1977; however, initial Muni Metro (MM) revenue operations did not begin until February, 1980. Thereafter in phases, the existing surface streetcar lines N, K,L,M and J would transition from surface operation to surface-subway operation utilizing then-new Boeing-Vertol light rail vehicles (LRV).

Initial Capacity Design:
In 1967 – the commencement of subway construction – the five surface streetcar lines were scheduled for peak-period headways of 2-8 minutes with a peak-hour trip count of 72 producing a maximum capacity of 7920 volume (200 % load factor of 55 average seats/car). 100 cars were scheduled for the peak period. Initial planning prior to SLRV design and purchase called for 78 cars with an option for 14, but the final purchase totaled 100. It was assumed that replicating the 7920 peak-hour capacity would be accomplished with a 50% reduction in running time in the Market Street segment, a 25% increase in car capacity and a projected spare ratio of 20% yielding 80 maximum scheduled cars. (more…)

Save Muni Challenges Recently Appointed Muni Working Group to Come Up With Real Solutions to Muni’s Problems

Gwyneth Borden and Ed Harrington, Co-Chairs
Muni Reliability Working Group (via email to

Dear Co-Chairs Borden and Harrington and Members,

Save Muni is the only truly independent transit advocacy group in San Francisco. We meet monthly, take informed positions on key transit and transportation issues, and communicate regularly with City leaders to influence operations, policy, and governance of the city’s transportation systems.

Three Save Muni members attended the first gathering of the Working Group on July 26, 2019. While we were surprised and disappointed not to have been included as a member of the Working Group we do intend to continue attending and participating in ways that will inform the discussion.

Based upon our observation of the July 26th meeting, Save Muni offers the following suggestions for the Working Group’s future direction. (more…)

Restructuring the SFMTA: Results of a Save Muni Survey

Article by: Bob Feinbaum, President of Save Muni

Save Muni recently surveyed 32 San Francisco transit experts and activists with regard to re-structuring the SFMTA. Responses were received from over 40 % of the panel. Although the results should not be interpreted as statistically significant, they do provide a lens with which to view changes to the MTA.

Question # 1 – Should Muni be split off from the SFMTA as a separate city department ?

Three times as many respondents thought that Muni should not become a separate city department. Their reasoning is instructive.

One respondent argued that San Francisco needs an even more comprehensive agency than the current MTA. “If anything move the DPW (Department of Public Works) over to the SFMTA.” Another pointed out that “cities with the best transportation have integrating functions” such as a unified department dealing with all aspects of transportation. Several other respondents echoed a comment from one that said that “SFMTA must keep control of streets in order to keep Muni moving”.

But that is not to say that respondents were satisfied with the SFMTA’s current way of operating. Several pointed to the need for a “stronger and more accountable management structure.” One called for “better internal coordination”, while another recommended that “the top person should be a generalist with strong managers below him”.



DTX is the highest regional transportation priority—legally mandated by San Francisco voters. The Transbay District’s new upzoning and development were predicated on DTX. Without DTX, tens of thousands of new commuters/ car trips/ residents/ workers will overload streets, highways and the Municipal Railway, usurping resources and service from the rest of the city and neighborhoods. To make matters worse, real Estate interests are lobbying for projects not set as priorities in the Mayor’s Transportation Task Force Report, such as the low-benefit Central Subway extension.

1999 PROP H: DOWNTOWN CALTRAIN STATION (Downtown Caltrain Extension / Transbay Terminal)

Bay Rail Alliance:

This measure is an ordinance that would make it City law to extend the Caltrain line to a new or rebuilt regional transit station in San Francisco to be located on the site of the Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets. The City would be directed to use an underground tunnel whenever feasible for the extension of the Caltrain line from the current station to the Transbay Terminal. The City would be prohibited from taking any actions that would conflict with extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco, including allowing conflicting use or development of the Transbay Terminal or the proposed extension right-of-way.

Save Muni Minutes – May 20, 2019

Taken by Robin Krop, edited by Bob Feinbaum

PRESENT: Bob Feinbaum (Chair), David Pilpel, Ed Mason, Angelo Figone, Herb Weiner. Robin Krop, Michael O’Rourke, Michael Barrett, Howard Wong, Serge Litvinenko Allen Kessler, Paul Bendix, Brian Larkin, Eileen Boken, Sara Greenwood, Chris Bowman, Jay Phone: Jean Barrish

1) Group business – Save Muni website being organized to make it sustainable. Jean Barish appointed to the working committee.

2) Discussion of MTA developments
The CTA backed off from advance funding for new LRVs due to safety problems

Save Muni sent a communication to the MTA raising issues with the new LRV4s, which was not responded to. Save Muni asked for specifications regarding the purchase order and never received any.


Open Forum: Save Muni from itself

People stand at a bus stop at Market and Church streets waiting for shuttle buses headed to downtown San Francisco. After a power line failure disabled Muni Metro subway trains, commuters had to take alternative routes to get to their destinations. Photo: Jana Asenbrennerova / Special to The Chronicle

Save Muni has long called for a management audit of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. To that request we now must add: Review the agency’s structure. Well-reported problems with new train cars, operator shortages and maintenance problems last month have only highlighted the agency’s shortcomings.

The SFMTA was created over a decade ago to bring all the city’s transportation under one agency. As envisioned, professionals would work together to develop integrated policies and programs that served the public better than separate taxi, streets and transit departments. It simply was assumed that keeping politics out of transportation, by insulating the SFMTA from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would assure better decisions.