Sunday, January 17, 2010

Muni: A Petition

This petition is available for signatures here:

To be sent to all San Francisco District Supervisors:

I am stunned and furious over the state of San Francisco's Municipal Transit Agency. I am appealing to you to help make this the turning point at which we stop destroying the transit system and start to heal it. Any comment, help, advice, or assistance from your office would be received with the utmost appreciation.

Publicly available information and news reports indicate that the following are major factors in the current financial crisis:

1) Depletion of Muni funds by the city for purposes not related to the transit system. This includes work orders from other departments.

2) Compensatory payments and settlements for collisions and injuries caused by failure of Muni management to enforce safety protocols.

3) Bloated salaries and lack of responsibility in the top tier of Muni.

4) Decrease in fare revenue due to deficient fare collection processes, and failure to prevent widespread fare evasion.

5) Unrealistic demands from the transit union, including salary guarantees, pension and retirement payouts, and protections for employees with poor safety records or job performance.

Accordingly, it is suggested that the city undertake the following:

1) An audit and public review of all payments and allocations from Muni funds, including funding of special programs, and invoices for services from other city agencies or departments.

2) Elimination of salaries paid from Muni funds to city employees who are not part of the operational staff of Muni.

3) Review of all management positions and salaries within Muni, from the top down, by an independent panel, to determine actual services rendered and whether compensation is merited. Findings to be made public and agency held accountable to restructure and eliminate or consolidate positions, per the best interests of the city.

4) No further layoffs or schedule cutbacks for front-line workers with good service records, including operators, parking control officers, station agents, mechanics, and bus cleaners.

5) Immediate termination of Muni operators who have caused accidents or otherwise jeopardized public safety and/or caused the agency to be liable for judgments or settlements by disregarding traffic laws or safety protocols.

6) Cancellation of union contracts, due to failure of the union to provide services commensurate with salaries and compensation, and disregard for the solvency of the city. New contracts drawn up with realistic terms for the city.

7) Focus on mitigating fare evasion on the lines where it occurs most frequently, including Mission, Geary, and Stockton bus lines. Have fare inspectors also enforce the no food/drink rules and cite violators.

8) Ensure that fare collection mechanisms are in working order, and that fare boxes are emptied before becoming full. Install fare boxes at crowded bus stops and above-ground train stops.

9) Continue to offer passes for sale at Muni stations, and increase staffing for pass sales during peak month-end days. Do not close the facility at Montgomery Station.

10) Real solutions for specific ongoing mechanical and functional issues which impact Muni performance daily. These include repair of open and close mechanisms on all train doors to reduce stalls and blockages, and overhaul of train dispatch systems to increase frequency of in-demand trains at peak times and reduce wasteful train groupings.

11) Freeze on fare increases and cancellation of plans to pursue any further service reductions or route eliminations. A poll of residents and riders to determine routes and regions most needing increased or restored service. Incremental expansion and restoration of services and routes.


  1. This is informed and thoughtful, but, for several reasons, I can't sign it. I don't agree, for example, with No. 11, "Freeze on fare increases and cancellation of plans to pursue any futher service reductions or route eliminations." I don't believe every bus stop should be forever saved just because it has always been there. Even though Muni just went through a complex evaluation to streamline operations, there are still too many stops too close together. I ride the Hayes #21 bus frequently to and from Alamo Square. The inbound bus stops both at Fulton and one short block away, at Scott. Why not just stop at Fulton? I'll walk the extra block. Outbound, it stops three times along Alamo Square, at Steiner, Pierce, and Scott. This makes no sense to me. I realize, of course, that there are and should be accommodations for elderly and disabled people. And that there are other considerations. But it's hard to believe that three stops in what is essentially one admittedly long block is the most thoughtful and efficient solution. And I'm afraid this kind of excess is still rife within the system. I have other objections to elements of the petition, but to reiterate, greatly appreciate the thought, effort, and caring behind it.

  2. Error in my post above. Should be" "The inbound bus stops at both Divisadero and one short block away at Scott. Why not just stop at Divisadero?" I wrote "Fulton" when I meant "Divisadero."

  3. It's just so frustrating. If they reduce frequencies on lines that area already packed to the gills, it just means it will be even more likely that the bus will pass you by. Try boarding an inbound Metro at Castro or Church at 7:30 am, after there has been the usual 6-8 minute gap between trains. Then add another minute or two to that. It gets ugly very fast.

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