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)


Muni Bus’ Inaugural Run Has Shaky Start

Michael Cabanatuan and Neal J. Riley : sfchronicle – exceprt

Muni just can’t catch a break. Even when it has the opportunity to boast about something good — dozens of snazzy new biodiesel-electric hybrid buses and a bus driver with a great head on her shoulders — something goes wrong.
The Monday dedication of the new buses, the first low-floor vehicles in the Muni fleet, seemed to be perfect. The weather was warm and sunny and the setting — at Pier 48, just across McCovey Cove from AT&T Park, was picturesque. Mayor Ed Lee gave a speech, as did other city officials, in front of one new bus while two others sat ready to carry guests on an inaugural ride to City Hall.
Lee then honored Felicia Anderson, a 14-year Muni driver who last week acted quickly when someone was shot aboard the 19-Polk. Anderson not only drove the full bus to safety but also took the wounded rider, who was only grazed by a bullet, to San Francisco General Hospital, just blocks away.
On that high note, Lee — joined by Transportation Director Ed Reiskin, other city officials and the media — climbed aboard one of the buses for a carefree ride to City Hall. But after showing off some of the bus’ new features, the driver couldn’t get the bus to budge…(more)

Brand New Muni Bus Malfunctions At Press Conference

by Dan McMenamin : – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials were on the new bus waiting to be taken to City Hall after a news conference at Pier 48 near AT&T Park when the mishap occurred.
The bus could not be driven away, and the mayor and the rest of the group had to be ushered onto another bus. Muni spokesman Paul Rose said it appears there was an issue with the bus’ hydraulic system.
The vehicles are part of a fleet of 62 new biodiesel-electric hybrid buses being introduced into the Muni system, which has not had any new buses since 2007, agency officials said… (more)

You can’t make this stuff up.

New Theory: Maybe the SFMTA is haunted by the ghosts of riders past who put a curse on it.


Transit Goes Hybrid In San Francisco

Hybrid buses are heading towards San Francisco.
New Flyer Industries Inc. announced today that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (“SFMTA”), which oversees all transportation in the City, including the Municipal Railway (MUNI), has approved the purchase of 45 heavy-duty 40-foot Xcelsior diesel-electric hybrid buses.
New Flyer has a long-standing relationship with San Francisco that dates back to 1988, with approximately 190 diesel and electric trolley buses being built and delivered since then. San Francisco has a total fleet size today of approximately 800 buses and trolleys, with New Flyer buses representing approximately 8 percent of the active fleet.
The 45 new Xcelsior hybrids will replace 13 year old buses currently in service… (more)

Your state tax dollars at work?