On a Pedestal: Muni’s Obsession with Dodgy, Expensive Hybrid Technology Ignores San Francisco’s Deepest Transit Need: Transit

Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

…Last week’s SF Weekly cover story detailed a bizarre handshake agreement that resulted in 50 of these $700,000-a-pop buses being manufactured and transported from Minnesota to clandestine East Bay repositories weeks before the Board of Supervisors approved the $38.3 million contract to manufacture and transport them. This hurriedly consummated arrangement scotched an internal Muni competition between rival hybrid propulsion systems, meaning all the new buses were de facto equipped with hybrid components manufactured by the British defense giant BAE….
In fact, virtually every hybrid bus San Francisco has ever owned is equipped with BAE components — which has resulted in much non-transit.
The city’s extant hybrid fleet has failed with a regularity that would dispirit even owners of AMC Pacers; Muni transit director John Haley candidly admits the BAE-equipped buses have been “an embarrassment … they were our newest buses and our worst performers.”
And now we’ve gone out of our way to amass even more. When life deals Muni lemons — it goes behind everybody’s back to invest in a lemon tree….
Time is money: Muni’s riders lose out on the former while Muni loses out on the latter….
This is the hand Muni has dealt itself as it slouches toward the future. Its long-range plans call for a greater percentage of San Francisco’s ever-growing population to take transit daily. Muni has also committed itself to growing more environmentally friendly during this period of expansion…
A breakdown-prone vehicle will encourage riders who can to opt out of public transit, no matter how impressively green or costly or beautiful it is.
It’s taboo to suggest it in this town, but Muni might be better off investing in the latest off-the-shelf diesel technology rather than exuberantly sinking millions into the dodgy hybrids that’ll look so pretty jacked up on a hydraulic lift. Reliable service and the ability to make repairs quickly and economically are “green” factors, too. Because the most environmentally friendly bus is a full bus.
The cleanest transit is the transit you take… (more)