Let’s get on the bus

By : sfexaminer –  excerpt

The last week of 2015 has kicked up some noxious fumes over the low wages paid to our city’s newest transit drivers.

Muni is assuredly no one’s model metropolitan transit agency, with regular service delays and breakdowns, perpetual grime and random crime, and now we can add employee revolt to the mix. But for good and for ill, it is how we roll in The City. Despite the well-publicized problems, it remains the best — and, for many, only — way to travel through San Francisco.

For those who doubt there is social strife resting uncomfortably just under the surface in this city, spend some time aboard Muni. The transit lines pulse with the character and tensions of The City. Physical fights and harsh words between passengers are not uncommon, but neither are music, new insights and unexpected conversations. The transit lines certainly aren’t San Francisco in a microcosm but rather are The City in a pressure cooker — each ride seems potentially explosive and revelatory.

But if not all is serene in the passenger area, increasingly discontent is also growing for those behind the wheel…

In a series of interviews, operators and union reps told the Examiner that unrest is growing within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over the inequity of the latest contract. Experienced Muni operators typically make $60,000 to $70,000 a year, but the 800 Muni operators hired since July 2014 make 63 percent of that under the new contract — as low as $37,000 a year, before union dues and benefits. One full-time Muni operator told us he makes about $2,100 a month, after taxes… (more)

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SF TWU 250A Union Official blasts SFMTA over Muni operator wages That Union Leadership Supported

A year in public transit: Muni’s triumphs, woes, and bike controversy in The City

By : sfexaminer -excerpt

For the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, 2015 was a year of one of Muni’s grandest service expansions.

It also saw the public crying out for transit projects meant to save lives.

SFMTA’s Muni Forward launched in April, creating the most expansive increase in transit service since the Market Street underground rail, SFMTA Director of Transit Operations John Haley told the San Francisco Examiner at the time.

More than 700,000 riders across The City saw increased service on 27 routes. The agency also renamed all “limited” bus lines to “rapid.”

Those reroutes also left some small neighborhoods behind, however, like transit riders on the south side of Lake Merced who saw commutes increase by an hour.

Reflecting on the year’s ups and downs, SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose wrote, “Our top priority will always be the safety of San Francisco’s transportation network.”

He noted SFMTA completed 24 “Vision Zero” pedestrian safety projects ahead of schedule, and plans to complete six additional projects by February 2016.

Despite these continuing efforts, the year’s deadly collisions began in March, when an auto struck and killed 87-year-old Alfred Yee on a section of Geary Boulevard slated for safety upgrades by SFMTA. In May, a Muni train struck and killed 12-year-old Andrew Wu, also on a street slated for safety upgrades.

As of Dec. 14, there were 20 pedestrian deaths in collisions in 2015…

Bikes dominated news this year when SFPD Captain John Sanford began a “crackdown” on bicyclists near the Panhandle in June. Cyclists protested in August, which led to the new Bike Yield Stop Law, courtesy of Supervisor John Avalos.

By year’s end the infamous “Google Buses,” properly called the Commuter Shuttle Program, became permanently regulated by the SFMTA, despite two legal challenges.

Public outcry prevented Muni power lines from being torn down for the Super Bowl City festival, after the Examiner first reported the proposal.

SFMTA launched two new transit lines this year: a new historic streetcar line, the E-Embarcadero, in July, and the 55-16th Street in January.

Late in the year SFMTA announced its buses will switch to from biodiesel to renewable diesel fuel. Since 2010 Muni reduced greenhouse gas emissions in its fleet by 19 percent, according to SFMTA… (more)