Muni Re-Reform? Peskin introduces charter amendment

May 22nd, 2007

Supervisor Peskin will introduce today (or soon?) a measure to amend the Charter to make some pretty significant changes to Proposition E, which governs the Municipal Transportation Agency. We’ll have analysis soon but wanted to get the news out right away.

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

May 18th, 2007

Metro’s Automatic Train Control System (ATCS) had a bad hair day Thursday morning.

On a tangential note, it recently came to my attention that one reason the platform signs often don’t indicate T-Third trains correctly is that the ATCS software is written in OS/2 Warp, and Alcatel-Lucent’s remaining OS/2 programmers are busy working on the Docklands Light Railway in London for a few more months.

There’s a lot of talk around Muni about how dated ATCS is, but it was installed less than ten years ago. ATCS brought with it a slew of problems, but I must admit I cringe at the thought of replacing or upgrading it, since the last time Muni installed a new train control system, we endured something like a year of early Metro closures.

Compared to some of Muni’s technology, ATCS is downright modern. The MTA CAC toured Central Control a few times, and it’s quite the computer museum. I only-half-jokingly asked where they kept the punch card readers and spare vacuum tubes. Finding a difference engine in a closet there wouldn’t have come as a great shock.

There’s a big quandary at the heart of any question about upgrading Muni technology. Much of Muni’s hardware and software is outdated, but the agency doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to acquiring new technology. Can the agency which bought the Boeing Vertol and Breda streetcars, or ATCS for that matter, be trusted to make better decisions when money is available to buy shiny new stuff? But, on the other hand, can we afford not to try? Not all of Muni’s problems relate to outdated technology—not by a longshot—but things like ridiculously antiquated radio systems, which make communication with operators difficult and slow, constitute part of The Problem.

-Daniel M.

Riders air grievances about T-Third problems, Caltrain access

May 17th, 2007

T-ThirdJ ChurchUpdate: Chronicle report on the meeting and T-Third issues more generally.

About thirty or forty Muni riders attended the town hall meeting held in response to an online petition complaining about service problems and route changes associated with the startup of the T-Third line. A good number of Rescue Muni members were among the attendees.

MTA Executive Director/CEO Nathaniel Ford outlined the agency’s action plan to deal with service reliability problems—increasing operator availability, dealing with bottleneck intersections, etc.—and promised a preliminary answer within a week to service design concerns raised at the meeting. He emphasized that he wanted to find the right answers to the problems before taking final action.

Attendees, many of whom were transit commuters who live outside the city, made a number of comments and concerns. Here’s a list of the ones I managed to jot down during the meeting; there were quite a few good points raised. I apologize in advance for any omissions or errors. Note that this is a summary of the speakers’ opinions, and doesn’t necessarily represent the views of Rescue Muni, nor those of our evil puppetmasters. Read the rest of this entry »

Gimme Shelter! Muni wants your comments on the bus stop furniture of the future

May 15th, 2007

What kind of shelters would you prefer when the current ones are replaced? Muni wants your comments. We will have a detailed review shortly (hint: all the NextBus signs are way too small, but those in series 2 seem to be a bit bigger.)

Muni hosting town hall May 16 at noon

May 10th, 2007

T-Third J ChurchMuni has announced a town hall meeting with MTA Director Nat Ford next Wednesday, May 16 at noon. The meeting will be downtown at the Ferry Building in the Port Conference Room on the second floor. (Take Muni to Embarcadero Station or the F-Market stop right in front.) When Muni has an official announcement we will link to it.

This is in response to the recent riders’ petition for a meeting to discuss service issues – and for more reliable Muni Metro service, particularly to Caltrain. Thanks to svetcov for making this happen!