Debate in Delhi over BRT

October 15th, 2012

In India, a new bus rapid transit system has been successful in speeding up service for some of the 33% of commuters who ride mass transit, but has led to opposition among auto drivers. The BBC interviews bus riders who support faster service, and also has a surprisingly honest comment from an auto driver opponent: “You cannot keep a commander-in-chief waiting in traffic while his army is waiting for his orders.”

The Delhi high court will soon rule on whether the project can continue.

No Clipper card on AirBART

October 4th, 2012

Today’s Chronicle highlights a major annoyance for Oakland airport commuters: you can’t use your Clipper card on the AirBART shuttle. Officials in charge say it would cost too much to add a few readers to the buses, despite the fact that BART is spending almost half a billion dollars on an elevated shuttle to the airport to replace them in a couple of years. So riders have to buy paper tickets or pay cash.

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.

NEVER DO THIS: Woman hurt trying to squeeze between N cars

February 24th, 2012

The individual who caused massive N-Judah delays yesterday was a woman, as yet unidentified, who tried to cross Irving Street by climbing between coupled LRV cars with her dog. She was trapped under the streetcar and suffered minor injuries – but she could have easily been killed had the operator not immediately stopped the vehicle. (This has happened in the recent past.)

This kind of reckless behavior must never be tolerated. SFMTA should at a minimum sue this woman for the full cost of the rescue and the delays to service, and possibly pursue criminal charges as well.

Fortunately the dog she was walking was unhurt.

$3.7M BART cars likely to be built overseas

January 30th, 2012

BART is about to begin replacing its rail cars with 775 new ones – a necessary step for reliable service and a state of good repair. Matier and Ross report today that none of the five vendors who responded to the bid are based in the US – so despite “Buy American” rules, it’s likely that the cars will be assembled overseas. (Here’s BART’s summary of the “fleet of the Future” project.)