Today’s Chronicle reports that SFMTA has reported good results from the all door boarding initiative that began last year. The key stat: dwell time is down 4 seconds PER STOP, which adds up to big savings on every trip. Props to our colleagues at SF Transit Riders Union for their lobbying on this issue!
The SFMTA is considering making 2012′s Christmas break service, where Muni uses a Saturday schedule instead of the normal weekday schedule, permanent each season. Ridership was 30% lower than a normal week, and running a Saturday schedule saved the agency $275k, with savings as great as $350k with additional tweaked cuts such as reduced express bus runs. With the purported money-saving success of Christmas break service, Muni is also considering a similar holiday cut during the end of March, during spring break, where ridership is lower than a typical week.
After the Bay Citizen blew the whistle on inflated on-time performance stats, the SFMTA has announced that the actual on-time rate is 57.2%, down from July’s 60.2%. Cancelled runs, for example the 113 on Sept 10th, lower the deployed number of buses and trains available for the schedule. To compensate, line managers space out buses and trains, decimating the schedule and driving down the on-time rate.
The three main issues with bus and train tardiness are the lack of available drivers due to a low driver graduation rate versus attrition, tight controls on over-time spending, and one of the oldest fleets in the nation. The SFMTA is in the process of hiring new part-time drivers, a new batch every 6 weeks, to start filling in missed runs, as well as buying new buses and overhauling mid-life buses.
With some of the oldest buses in the nation, the SFMTA has placed an order for 45 40′ low floor New Flyer Hybrid buses at $752,000 each. The new fleet members will replace 13 year old buses that will be in service the summer of next year. On the horizon is the purchase of 60′ articulated trolly buses, which will replace part of the existing 20 year old 60′ fleet over the next 2 years, as well as a $19m overhaul program for the agency’s 80 Neoplan diesel buses.
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.