Muni: The City's Schizophrenic Treatment of its Transit System

Categories: Public Transit
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Jim Herd
Your daily Muni metphor...
Continuing a long, if not proud, tradition of knuckling under to whatever the hell the mayor wants, Muni's board yesterday voted to do away with Sunday parking meters

This was utterly and totally predictable. Muni's board is not an entity to which anyone should extend the courtesy of taking seriously. If you do, you must also buy into the notion of the dead rising from their graves to vote in Chicago or 105 percent of the electorate throwing in with Kim Jong-Un. 

So, yesterday, the Muni board obeisantly voted to do away with Sunday meters, a program Muni transit experts have been planning for at least five years. Muni boss Ed Reiskin told the media that it's all okay since the mayor doesn't ask for much. 

The mayor doesn't "ask" for anything. Press releases were ready even prior to the vote.

The notion of our "transit-first city" siding with transit experts over politicians is laughable. In fact, the very same vote to do away with hitting up drivers on a Sunday also called for jacking up Muni fares by 12.5 percent. Every day. 

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This New BART App Will Help You Catch Criminals and Idiotic Passengers

There's an app for that
You know how you love to snap images and videos of all the nefarious activities on BART -- people humping and running around naked? Well, BART's hoping you'll channel that voyeuristic energy into helping them catch crooks.

BART is offering up a new free app to all riders which will make it easy for everyone to report crimes in real-time. With the new app, passengers can snap photos of suspicious items or activities or other safety hazards -- like drunks on the tracks -- along the BART system.

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Survey States the Obvious: San Francisco Commuters Dissatisfied with Cleanliness Onboard Muni

Categories: Public Transit

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Muni has a large impact on San Franciscans lives. The transportation agency has over 700,000 passenger boardings on an average weekday, but what does San Franciscans really think about the quality of service that they receive on board buses and trains?

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency sent an online survey to 285,000 Clipper Card holders between November and December 2013. The responses were split between users who claimed a San Francisco zip code and commuters who live outside of the city. Overall, Muni received a 3.12 average rating, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest score.

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Twitter-Users: Muni Wants You to Drive a Bus

Categories: Public Transit
You! The one with his jaw agape while scrolling through his Twitter feed! Put that thing away and take your rightful place behind the wheel of a Muni vehicle. 

And then stop tweeting. 

Muni boss Ed Reiskin fired off the above tweet earlier this morning seeking out "people with good customer service skills" to pilot Muni's ever-expanding fleet. While the layman might sum up the job description of a bus or train operator as "drive a bus" or "drive a train," it's far more complex than that. Per the announcement

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"Driver Doug," Zen Muni Operator, Offers Keys to Transcendent Transit

Fred Noland
On the 22, you will receive total consciousness...
Passengers on an electric Muni bus -- and readers of today's SF Weekly -- may already be familiar with Douglas "Driver Doug" Griggs.

The zen bus driver distilled his 15 years of experiencing life, the Muniverse, and everything into a book -- The Dao of Doug: The Art of Driving a Bus. Within he shares, in intricate detail, the travails of motoring a breakdown-prone vehicle throughout our city and his coping mechanisms for dealing with the hilarity that ensues.

He also has plenty of advice for Muni passengers along for the ride.

See Also: Traffic Koan -- Meet "Driver Doug" Griggs

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"Handshake Deal": Ed Reiskin, Muni, Fight Losing Battle With Dictionary

Blake Ritterman
Coach No. 8706 cruises through Wyoming on Oct. 17, weeks before the contract for it to be built is signed
For years, it turns out Muni officials were fighting a losing battle with Merriam-Webster with regards to the term "on time." Through a series of Kafkaesque tweaks deviating significantly from any sense of time, space, transit, or reality, the agency devised a malleable definition of timeliness that allowed it to, for a decade, inflate its performance by up to 25 percent.

This worked out well for Muni. It did not work out so well for its riders. That's how applying semantic solutions to real problems tends to go. 

And so, today, Muni boss Ed Reiskin took to the pages of the Examiner to claim it's just not so that the transit agency has been engaging in "handshake deals" -- and, whatever it did, it did it for your benefit. 

This is, once again, a semantic dodge -- and a dubious one at that. Your humble narrator in January wrote an SF Weekly cover story exposing that Muni and the bus manufacturer New Flyer came to some manner of agreement for 50 hybrid buses worth $38.3 million to be manufactured, transported to the Bay Area, and squirreled away in clandestine locations. This was done without the Board of Supervisors approving a contract or -- most importantly -- approving the expense. It was, per Muni, understood that 100 percent of the risks of this undertaking were assumed by the manufacturer. And, when we requested, repeatedly, for the paperwork underpinning this deal, we were told there wasn't any -- and there was no "deal." 

But, per Reiskin, characterizing this as a handshake agreement "simply is not true."  

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Google Donation to Make Muni Free for San Francisco's Low-Income Kids

Categories: Public Transit

$3 Million dollars!
Amid all the hating on Google that's been happening here, the Silicon Valley tech giant is hoping to get in your good graces by offering to foot the bill for low-income kids' Muni rides.

Mayor Ed Lee announced the news today, saying Google has agreed to donate $3.4 million dollars annually for two years to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, specifically to pay the Muni fares of low-and-moderate-income kids in San Francisco.

That amount of cash covers the existing $3 million program that allows some 40,000 kids between the ages of 5 and 17 to ride Muni for free. In fact, there will even be enough money leftover to expand the free rides to 18 year olds, according to the Mayor's Office.

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Muni Hearing: Supes Address Allegations Made in SF Weekly Cover Story

Blake Ritterman
Coach No. 8706 cruises through Wyoming on Oct. 17, weeks before the contract for it to be built is signed
Last month, SF Weekly revealed a bizarre, handshake agreement between Muni and bus manufacturer New Flyer to construct and deliver 50 hybrids to the Bay Area before the Board of Supervisors signed off on the deal. 

As a result, an internal Muni competition between hybrid drives crafted by BAE or Allison was nixed. All 50 buses were outfitted with BAE components -- the same systems already within Muni's notoriously underperforming hybrid fleet.

Today, Muni transit director John Haley addressed these matters at a hearing called by Supervisor David Campos. In essence, Muni's position was, A. Yeah, we did that, and; B. It's okay. 

Statements made by Campos and Supervisor David Chiu could be essentially boiled down to "it's not okay." 

This came despite a cheery Muni PowerPoint attempting to make the case just how okay everything is

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Mee King Wu: Elderly Woman on Muni Goes Missing (Update)

Categories: Public Transit

Mee King Wu
Update 8:19 a.m.: Good news: Mee King Wu has been located and is safe. Police say she was found at 29th Avenue and Geary Boulevard. No word on how she got there.

Update 5 p.m.: Police say the name of the woman missing is Mee King Wu and she is considered to be at-risk. She's described as a 5-foot-2 woman, weighing 120 pounds. She has gray hair, glasses, land was last seen wearing black-hooded mid jacket with a white lining inside the hood, black pants, tan top, and was holding a black cane.

Original story 2:45 p.m.:
An 80-year-old woman disappeared while riding the Muni bus through the city's Laurel neighborhood.

The SFMTA tweeted about the incident just now:

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Free Weekend Shuttle Gets You to the Presidio

Categories: Public Transit
Your free shuttle will be a lot more fun than theirs
The Presidio is, without doubt, San Francisco's premier plantation created, expressly, to "accentuate the idea of the power of the government." 

It's also a hell of a weekend getaway, and, now, there's a free shuttle to take you there. 

The Presidio Trust announced the Jan. 4 inauguration of the "PresidiGo Downtown Shuttle," which will run every half hour from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. It doesn't cost a thing and anyone and everyone is urged to hop on board and enjoy the bowling alley, restaurants, bikepaths, dunes, trees, and other vestiges of the power of the government. 

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