Shock and Awe: The Little Hybrid Engine That Couldn’t

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

…By the time the board unanimously greenlit their mere existence on Oct. 29, scores of these buses were already squirreled away at a warehouse in Alameda. A majority of the city’s supervisors tell SF Weekly they had no clue this was the case. “Well, that’s fascinating,” says irked Board President David Chiu. “This is information that should have been disclosed to us. Boy, I’d kind of like to see this in writing.”

But that would require a conjurer’s touch. Muni boss Ed Reiskin and transit director John Haley confirm the acquisition of these 50 buses was predicated on a mere handshake. Bus manufacturer New Flyer, they claim, offered to crank out a platoon of hybrids to Muni’s specs, while assuming all the risks if the board saw fit to spurn the pending contract.

Asked to produce the paperwork verifying this, Reiskin and Haley claim none exists.

But that’s just the beginning of a particularly strange and harrowing journey. Further deconstructing the inner workings of these buses and the deal that landed them, peculiarities emerge one after the other, like rabbits out of a rabbit hutch…

SF Weekly contacted every supervisor; only Scott Wiener and London Breed recalled being notified of this arrangement beforehand. Neither thought to ask for any paperwork regarding the matter — Muni officials claim there’s none to be had — and both stand by their votes. Breed, however, admits “this definitely doesn’t look good.”

Her colleagues, having been left in the dark, are decidedly less sanguine. “Muni is kind of a rogue agency,” says Supervisor Malia Cohen. “They just do what they want to do.” Supervisor John Avalos calls the not-a-deal “very funky. For them to have a situation where the actual vehicles are parked across the bay waiting for us to vote on them makes me feel the wool was pulled over my eyes. What’s the point of even having a legislative branch of government?”

None of the supervisors — not one — knew about the internal BAE vs. Allison competition that Muni short-circuited, even though they’d unanimously greenlit that “split” bus purchase, too. That detail was within the legislative packet. But the supervisors are deluged with legislative packets.

Certainly, no one appears to have read this one…

Muni, it turns out, has no magic to speak of.

Just tricks… (more)

Comments on the source are appreciated, add some here, or better still, ask the supervisors what they plan to do about this:  http://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/san-francisco-officials/

RELATED:
Board of Supervisors Approves Purchase of 50 Hybrid Muni Buses (October 9, 2013)
San Francisco to add 50 New Flyer hybrid buses
The San Francisco board of supervisors approved the purchase of 50 new hybrid 40-foot buses from New Flyer Industries to be used as part of Muni’s bus fleet… (more)

Report on Muni’s light-rail trains is latest bad news for agency

by : sfexaminer.com – excerpt

Muni’s light-rail trains, which collectively carry more than 150,000 passengers each day, posted an on-time performance rate of just under 50 percent in May, according to a recent report that is the latest of several pieces of disconcerting news about the transit agency.
Officials from the transit agency acknowledge the systemic problems, including aging trains and the rundown tracks, but say upcoming fixes may correct some of the issues.
On average, Muni’s light-rail vehicles break down once every 25 to 30 days, and the agency has few reserve vehicles to immediately put into service, according to John Haley, director of transit for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni. The 151 trains that comprise Muni’s light-rail fleet should have been completely overhauled about five to six years ago, but that never happened, which is why they’re so prone to breakdowns, Haley said…
The run-down condition of the agency’s trackways also lead to slower train speeds. In addition, a large confluence of bottlenecks — such as the intersection at Fourth and King streets — results in numerous delays. Scheduling for the lines — which carry passengers at street level and below the ground — has not been updated for the current operating conditions, and the agency lacks enough supervisors to monitor performance, Haley said…
One of the solutions for light-rail problems not listed on Haley’s report is seat reconfiguration. Supervisors Scott Wiener and London Breed issued a letter to Muni Transportation Director Ed Reiskin on Friday, asking him to consider rearranging train seats for more capacity… (more)

“the agency lacks enough supervisors to monitor performance”, according to Haley…

They also lack engineers, mechanics and parts, and the ability to keep the the light-rails moving. In fact, the only thing the SFMTA seems to be any good at is infuriating drivers and riders and creating traffic jams. They get an “A” in harassing the public; an “F” in running the Muni.

Now the Supervisors want to remove seats from the trains? How safe is that? Do you really want kids and the elderly standing on trains instead of sitting? Cars are required to have seat belts. Buses are not. Kids in cars are required to be securely belted into car seats. Now you want those same kids to stand on the bus handing onto the seat? Not everyone can reach those high overhead bars, and not everyone can stand up on a fast-moving bus.