A Transit Riders' Association for San Francisco
P.O. Box 190966
San Francisco, CA 94119-0966

Hotline: (415) 273-1558
board at rescuemuni.org

Andrew Sullivan
Chair, Steering Committee / Chief Spokesperson
(415) 673-0626
[email protected]

Daniel Murphy
Vice-Chair, Steering Committee
(415) 665-4074
[email protected]

Rescue Muni Supports Diesel Bus Compromise,
Celebrates 8-3 Victory for Muni Riders

Rescue Muni expressed support for a compromise measure, sponsored by Board of Supervisors President and San Francisco County Transportation Autnority Chair Tom Ammiano, which allows Muni to buy 95 new clean diesel buses to replace old, unreliable buses now in operation. The organization praised the supervisors for their 8-3 approval of the deal at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Meeting today.

"The commisioners made the right decision today. Muni needs to get these old, dirty, unreliable buses of the street now," said Rescue Muni chair Andrew Sullivan. "Waiting three or four years for alternative fuel buses which may or may not work here is not acceptable." Sullivan noted that compressed natural gas (CNG) buses are only 50-75% as reliable as diesel buses in New York City. "These 95 buses are an important start. We would have preferred all 175, but these buses will make a difference."

Under the terms of the compromise, the remaining 80 buses will be purchased after Muni has an opportunity to conduct pilot programs with CNG and diesel-electric hybrid buses. In addition, Muni will undertake a program of electrification to extend trolley coach service to many critical transit lines in San Francisco.

"The Boad recognized that CNG buses may not work in San Francisco," said Daniel Murphy, the organizationís vice chair. "CNG seems to work better in suburban systems which offer limited service on flat terrain." The compromise requires Muni to start pilot programs with CNG and diesel-electric hybrid buses, to see if they can be made to work in San Francisco. "We should seriously consider CNG, as well as other alternative fuel vehicles. But we need to make sure this technology works before we commit to it."

Rescue Muni argued that buying the buses doesnít just make good transit sense, but makes for good environmental policy too. "Reliable service means cleaner air. If service is more reliable, people get out of their cars and take the bus," said Sullivan. "Unreliable service would do more to damage air quality, by forcing people into cars, than would the purchase of the new, cleaner diesel buses."

"This is a critical decision for Muni," said Sullivan. "Replacing buses as soon as possible means better service for riders. Keeping old buses around while Muni works out the kinks in CNG technology doesnít make sense. Pollution could actually be worse with CNG buses because they would keep old diesel buses, which pollute more, on the street longer."

The group praised the Ammiano measureís support for electrification of some routes, which would be converted to "trackless trolley" service. "Electric buses are zero-emission, are already in wide use at Muni, and operate off a power source the city owns: Hetch Hetchy," Murphy said. Rescue Muni suggested converting lines like the 10-Townsend, 12-Folsom, 19-Polk, 28-19th Avenue, 47-Van Ness, 48-Quintara/24th Street, and 71-Haight/Noriega to electric service to reduce emissions and noise. The group noted their longstanding support of converting the 38-Geary diesel line to electric light rail. Additionally, Muni is already in the process of replacing the 15-Third diesel line with electric light rail.

Sullivan thanked the eight supervisors who voted for the measure: Board President Tom Ammiano and Supervisors Leland Yee, Gavin Newsom, Mark Leno, Tony Hall, Sophie Maxwell, Jake McGoldrick, and Aaron Peskin.

Rescue Muni is a transit ridersí organization for customers of Muni. It was founded in 1996 by Muni riders seeking to improve the systemís reliability, service, and safety, and currently has about 600 members, and continues to grow rapidly. The organization conducts an annual ridersí survey and serves as a citizensí watchdog group for Muni. Rescue Muni co-sponsored November 1999ís Proposition E for Muni reform after circulating their own charter amendment earlier that year and participating in City Hall negotiations. Rescue Muni is an independent, nonpartisan group run entirely by volunteers and supported solely by its membersí dues.

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Posted 2/26/01.