Muni Maintenance: How Bad Is Bad?

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

Woody Allen pithily noted that 80 percent of life is just showing up. Statistics presented during yesterday’s transit hearing indicate that, on many days, Muni has trouble doing even that..
Judging by the data presented by Muni yesterday — and in the past — is Muni getting better or worse here?
The answer, naturally, is “yes.”
See Also: Muni Presents Hideous Numbers at Transit Hearing…

On the other hand, diesel buses’ MDBF totals of nearly 5,000 miles between breakdowns are an all-time high. Soot-belching diesel vehicles don’t fit the city’s chosen idiom — one of our insufferable high-tech sorts quoted in George Packer’s recent New Yorker piece on Silicon Valley and the city was taken aback that “some of the buses still run on diesel.”
Not only do “some of the buses still run on diesel,” diesel is the backbone of the fleet. Motor coaches are traveling three times further between breakdowns since the late 1990s and nearly eight times further than the dawn of the Reagan administration. Diesel buses are making the runs Muni’s breakdown-prone light-rail vehicles, electric buses, historic trolleys, and even cable cars are missing…
… San Francisco’s breakdown totals are far, far worse than most any other major transit agency’s; Los Angeles’ light-rail vehicles travel more than four times as far as San Francisco’s between roadcalls.
Answering the natural next question — why? — is complicated. Other agencies carry fewer people in newer vehicles. They have a higher mechanic-to-vehicle ratio. They don’t grapple with hilly, stop-and-start conditions. And, especially in the case of light-rail vehicles and electric buses, they aren’t saddled with crappy, obsolete machinery.
Transit is difficult. Maintenance issues are a big reason why. So, as Muni gears up to ask voters for more money and as the agency touts its “investment in maintenance,” it warrants mentioning that “maintenance” isn’t a unified, undifferentiated area one can simply hurl money and manpower at in order to “solve.” And the portion of Muni’s fleet where maintenance is getting more and more optimal — and is serving a more and more vital purpose for the agency — is one image-conscious policymakers would like to distance themselves from.
Transit is difficult. The riders who’ll spend a communal 20 years trapped aboard it in any given month have plenty to think about… (more)

As we have been saying all along, Muni needs ALL the Muni funds. Stop spending Muni funds on everything else.

Muni’s contribution to San Francisco’s mental health

By: Melissa Griffin : – excerpt

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine ranks the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas in its American Fitness Index. San Francisco ranked fourth this year, behind Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. The Greater Bay Area gets good marks for the fact that almost 15 percent of people take public transportation to work, but low marks for “percent of days when mental health was not good.”
These things may be related.
Supervisor Scott Wiener has made it his mission to find a way to improve our public-transportation system, holding hearing after hearing on the status of Muni and its budget. Those meetings can be very depressing…
Reiskin will be coming to the Board of Supervisors this year to ask for $120 million in revenue bonds to make a small dent in the $2.2 billion needed in transportation infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the voters will be considering a vehicle license fee (likely in November 2014) expected to bring in $70 million per year to the general fund, where it will promptly be spent on things San Franciscans do not use every day…
Wiener is considering putting a measure on the same ballot with the fee to force the use of the new income for updating the physical transit system. Wiener also is considering a surcharge on tickets to events for the same purpose. Either proposal would need the approval of voters.
At the recent hearing, Reiskin acknowledged that, to get additional money, “We need to earn the credibility to get that support.”
No kidding… (more)

Land Use Committee Meeting, May 28 – Hearing and Monthy Report from the MTA Controller – excerpt

Link to the Land Use Committee Meeting on Muni, May 28:
130053 – Hearing and monthly report, directed to the Municipal Transportation Agency and the Controller, analyzing and disclosing the state of Municipal Transportation Agency service and maintenance, including month-on-month comparisons, and the loss of economic productivity in San Francisco resulting from Municipal Transportation Agency service disruptions.

Watch the live action. The download should be up soon.