Human Transit on all-door boarding

July 13th, 2012

The excellent Human Transit blog has a detailed discussion of Muni’s new all door boarding policy, the first in North America. It definitely will help riders get where they are faster, with fewer delays, which is why we have advocated it for the better part of a decade.

One important point that the author makes is around fare evasion:

“On all-door boarding, you as a passenger can’t tell whether others have paid their fares, and when you see someone a guy who looks shady to you (whatever that means to you in terms of race, class or behavior cues) jumping on the back, you’ll now have to accept that what he’s doing is now perfectly legal and that you have to assume that he has proof of payment. It’s up to a fare inspector, not you, to verify that.”

So long as SFMTA maintains a sufficient level of fare inspection that riders really do have a reasonable expectation of being checked, this should not be a major problem – though it is very important that inspectors show up at times when evasion has been a problem in the past (e.g. after school hours, evening rush on Market Street). This will also help address riders’ security concerns.

On time performance numbers sketchy?

July 8th, 2012

Like many, we were unhappy to hear that the SFMTA has used accounting tricks to inflate its on-time performance numbers, as the Chronicle recently reported. This was by no means the intent of the service standards we co-authored in 1999’s Proposition E; the whole point of the standards is to give riders and Muni staff a clear and unbiased view of service reliability, so that planners and managers can effectively run the system.

Most appallingly, “Late inbound Muni trains heading to the Embarcadero Station were excluded from the calculation because ‘service in the tunnel cannot be controlled'” – even though every rider knows that inbound service in the tunnel is subject to massive delays.

However, we don’t like the approach some have taken in response, to complain that service standards should not be so strict, or should not be in the Charter. It does make sense to add better measures of headways, since that is what most riders perceive when they go to the stop, and we are encouraged that SFMTA plans to do this. But we will never support relaxing or removing service standards from the Charter or agency rules; only when San Franciscans have an honest view of the quality of Muni service will we be able to make smart decisions about how to improve it.