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.

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