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SPUR releases report on dismal Muni service delivery

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  • 9/1 SF Business Times
    Published Thursday, September 1, 2005, in the San Francisco Business Times SPUR calls for changes at Muni By Eric Young San Francisco s Muni transit system
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2005
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      Published Thursday, September 1, 2005, in the San Francisco Business Times

      SPUR calls for changes at Muni

      By Eric Young

      San Francisco's Muni transit system must run more efficiently and
      attract more riders to avoid a "vicious downward spiral" of further
      service cuts, price hikes and employee layoffs, according to a new
      think tank study.

      The report by San Francisco's Planning and Urban Research Association
      urges city supervisors, Muni brass and the transit system's union to
      work together to avoid a financial meltdown in future years.

      [BATN: <http://www.spur.org/documents/050901_report_01.pdf>
      6.8mb PDF file (of which only 60k is text -- sub-1% information density!)]

      The association's report was issued Thursday, when Muni hiked basic
      fares 20 percent to $1.50, the second fee hike in two years. Muni
      also cut service along at least eight lines on Thursday.

      Rider dissatisfaction with Muni hit a low point in the late 1990s with
      the infamous subway "meltdowns" in which service was delayed for
      hours. But gradual improvements on the subway and with buses improved
      Muni's reputation for the past several years.

      Now a new crisis confronts Muni, which has about 700,000 boardings per
      day on its fleet of 1,000 vehicles. After closing a $57 million
      budget gap this year Muni faces a $27 million shortfall next year,
      SPUR analysis showed.

      To avoid a "vicious downward spiral," the SPUR report said Muni must
      become more efficient. The system's buses or subway trains should
      carry an average of 80 passengers per hour, up from the current 63, by
      2015. That boost to efficiency would cut operating costs by millions
      of dollars annually, SPUR said.

      Muni should also increase the speed of its buses along the most
      heavily traveled routes, such as Geary Boulevard. The city could
      accomplish this by expanding transit-only lanes and coordinating stop
      lights to accommodate Muni.

      Boosting ridership is another major ingredient, the report said, since
      the system earns 23 percent of its revenue from fares. That
      percentage could rise with more passengers. Muni should improve the
      rider experience by providing more real-time information about when
      buses will arrive, improving signage at stops and making it easier to
      buy bus passes.

      Remove Muni driver wage scales from the city's charter would also
      help, the report said. In 1968, Muni's unions approved a city law
      that set driver wages as high as the average of the two highest paid
      comparable transit agencies in the nation, which are typically New
      York and Los Angeles. Having Muni wages open to bargaining would give
      city officials more latitude to make needed changes, the report said.
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