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.
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.
Nearly 38,000 citations have been issued since MUNI security chief Lea Militello hit the streets with her new strategy of placing inspectors all over the system, instead of concentrating on the same areas, and by performing more inspection saturation operations. The current fare evasion rate now hangs at 4.7%.
The Civil Grand Jury slammed Muni over switchbacks in the system. They found that the system relied far to heavily on them, which often leave riders stranded waiting for the next vehicle to go to the end of the line. Muni’s policy is to not switch back unless there is another vehicle 5 minutes behind to do a pick up. Switchbacks occur when there is a disruption in the system, a common occurrence for Muni, so resources can be redeployed to pick up slack. Year over year, the number of switchbacks has declined from 440 per month to 82.