Extensive Muni Service Changes Begin Smoothly
Release date: 12/5/09
*** Press Release ***
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that the most significant Muni route and schedule changes to the system in a generation have begun smoothly. SFMTA Service Ambassadors continue to canvass the system to alert customers to the changes and to answer questions.
As expected given the extensiveness and complexity of the service changes, the SFMTA is addressing issues as they arise. For example, some NextMuni predictions are inaccurate, and the SFMTA is working with the contractor to fix them. The 311 call center is reporting a 27 percent increase in the number of calls as of noon today compared to a recent Saturday.
The SFMTA continues its outreach campaign and is preparing for a major effort on Monday morning, the first weekday when the new changes will be in effect.
“The service changes that begin today will make Muni a more efficient, reliable and useful system for San Francisco,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom.
“We are pleased that today’s service is running smoothly,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of Muni customers as these extensive changes take effect.”
Muni customers can find a master, trilingual brochure with detailed explanations and maps of the changes at www.sfmta.com, SFMTA sales locations, libraries, local government offices and community centers. Additionally newspaper advertisements, in-vehicle voice announcements and NextMuni alerts notify customers and the general public of the upcoming changes. Signs and banners, posted throughout the Muni system, proclaim the impending changes. At the transit stops, customer will find detailed service alerts telling them about the changes for that particular stop.
The SFMTA has reached out to stakeholders, community organizations, large employers and City partners to disseminate the information on the changes throughout beginning in early November.
As of Dec. 1, SFMTA Service Ambassadors have been deployed on the system to let customers know about the changes, distribute the brochures and answer questions. The Ambassadors are easily recognized by their bright orange hats and vests. They are volunteers from throughout the Agency as well as the Citizens’ Advisory Council, Muni Accessibility Advisory Committee and community organizations.
The changes that began today affect more than half of Muni’s bus routes and one rail line. The service reductions include discontinuing routes and eliminating route segments with low ridership, decreasing frequency on less crowded routes and ending some routes earlier. To help offset the reductions, service enhancements will be implemented. These include adjusting schedules and running times to improve on-time performance and reliability, increasing service on crowded routes, restructuring routes to make new connections, and expanding limited-stop service.
“We want to ensure that theses Muni service changes are implemented as smoothly as possible with minimum impact to our customers,” said SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan. He added that the Board of Directors has requested a report back in six months’ time to evaluate the success of the service changes. Data on ridership, productivity and reliability as well as customer feedback will be central to this evaluation.
These changes represent only one facet of the SFMTA’s comprehensive approach to bridging a $129 million deficit for the fiscal year that began on July 1. The SFMTA, like almost all transit agencies in the United States, faced an unprecedented budget deficit because of the global and national recession, and a complete elimination of transit operations funding by the State of California. To close that deficit, the SFMTA cut expenditures by $77 million through position eliminations and internal efficiencies and raised revenue by $52 million, in part through parking rate and fee increases and Muni fare increases.
In April the SFMTA Board of Directors approved the Amended Operating Budget for fiscal year 2010. Negotiations between the Mayor’s Office, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and other Supervisors and the SFMTA resulted in some changes to the budget in May, including the service enhancements on some of the busiest Muni routes and lines that are part of the Dec. 5 changes.
While these service changes do not represent the implementation of the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), an 18-month study of Muni and recommendations for service improvement, they have been informed by the data collected and the extensive public input received during the TEP planning phase. Additional data analysis and public feedback during the budget amendment process helped the SFMTA make informed decisions regarding these service changes and how to provide the best possible service with limited resources.
The SFMTA has conducted extensive planning and testing for the Dec. 5 route changes and developed materials that will help staff better understand the changes and better assist customers. Additionally, scheduled running times have been adjusted on 60 percent of weekday routes and 35-40 percent of weekend routes. As a result, customers should experience less bunching and more reliable service.
For more detailed information on specific route changes, customers are encouraged to visit www.sfmta.com or call 311 for trip planning and assistance in other languages.
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