What YOU Can Do To Fix Muni

Ken Niemi lists some key volunteer opportunities for RESCUE MUNI members.

Rescue Muni could use some help with a number of projects. If you'd like to volunteer for projects that fit your interests and available time, we very much would appreciate the help!

The "Call Willie" campaign

The mayor has displayed a shocking level of disdain for public transit and its users. Since he never rides Muni himself, he needs to hear from us riders. Our mailing to members in November included several small hand-outs with the mayor's phone number. Feel free to hand them out to friends, relatives, co-workers, or any other frustrated Muni riders you come across. If you'd like more of them, call our hot line at 273-1558 or send email to transit1@rescuemuni.org, and we will mail you a packet. Please let us know how many you will actually be able to distribute.

We've also made posters with tear-off tabs, which were well-received along test routes when first posted in October. If you would like to poster a route or neighborhood, we'd appreciate your help! Just leave us a message on the hot line or by email with your name and address, and we'll send you some posters. Please post them at locations tolerated by the neighborhood, such as laudromats and cafes - not on the glass parts of Muni shelters or on poles where they have been stamped with "Police Code," as that forbids posters except as registered during political campaigns. Perhaps some energetic volunteer could contact neighborhood merchant assocations and see whether they put up the posters in their windows.

The Second Annual Muni Riders' Survey

Last February, RESCUE MUNI captured media attention by compiling - for the first time in recent memory - independent statistics on Muni's performance and reliability. The results weren't pretty: Muni riders who participated in the survey were delayed on a quarter of the rides they took during the two-week period. The worst route (22-Fillmore) kept riders waiting a whopping 55 percent of the time.

Now, after almost a year, things appear to be looking up for Muni - at least on the surface. The worst part of the long-delayed Metro construction is almost over, with the turnback and extension scheduled to reopen on January 10. Many of the oldest streetcars have been replaced with new (if noisy) Breda vehicles. The supervisors increased the budget by $17 million, almost half of what Muni has said it would need to meet its schedule. Director Emilio Cruz has been on the job for another year, enough time to put reforms into place (see our interview).

But has it made a difference? Or is the new, shinier Muni just as surly and unreliable as ever? We need you to help us find out.

We will be conducting our second annual riders' survey during the first two weeks of February. To participate, simply record the time you spend waiting for the buses and streetcars you normally take (we'll provide the forms) and submit the data to RESCUE MUNI. We'll compile and publish the data shortly thereafter - and, of course, we'd love your help on that as well.

We will send survey forms to all registered RESCUE members in late January. If you know someone who would like to participate, please ask them to leave a message on our hot line at 273-1558 or send email to transit1@rescuemuni.org. They will also be able to register at this web site in January.

Bay to Breakers in May

We were so busy with the riders' survey and other matters that we didn't have a chance to do anything for the Bay to Breakers last May. If some creative volunteers would like to work on this project, we can put together a team. One idea is to get large cardboard boxes (perhaps refrigerator boxes) and make them up to be Muni buses and streetcars. A lot of funny stunts - bunching, crashing, stopping for coffee - could be performed as we made our way down the course. Please let us know if you would like to have fun with this!

Attending Public Meetings

RESCUE Steering Committee members try to attend the Public Transportation Commission as that is the major forum and we really should be there. But there are also other crucial public meetings, and we need your help with them.

Public Transporation Commission: second and fourth Tuesdays of every month, 5 p.m., 401 Van Ness, room 428

Parking and Traffic Commission: first and third Tuesdays, 2 p.m., 401 Van Ness, room 428

Board of Supervisors: every Monday, 2 p.m., 401 Van Ness, room 308

San Francisco County Transportation Authority (the supervisors with different hats on): Finance Committee, second Monday, 11 a.m., 401 Van Ness, 4th floor

Metropolitan Transportation Commission: fourth Wednesday, 10 a.m., 101 Eighth St., Oakland

Interested RESCUE members could either attend the meetings or watch them on TCI's channel 54. To find out which programs will be aired and when, call CityWatch at 557-4293. Also, for schedule details, you can read the City's web site.

If you're interested in covering a meeting or set of meetings, please let us know, wear your RESCUE MUNI badge, take some notes, and send us any information you gather. We need to keep watch on what our public officials are up to.

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RESCUE MUNI Transfer, Winter 1997-98.
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