SPUR releases report on dismal Muni service delivery
- 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.
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.