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 Backs Diesel Bus Purchase, More Electric Trolleys

Rescue Muni backed the recommendations of Muni staff and the MTA Board in supporting the purchase of 175 new Neoplan diesel buses as soon as possible, rather than committing Muni to buy buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) at some unspecified point in the future.

"This is a critical decision for Muni," said Rescue Muni chair Andrew Sullivan. "Replacing buses as soon as possible means better service for riders. Keeping old diesel 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 organization expressed concern about committing Muni to CNG technology. "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," said the organizationís vice chair, Daniel Murphy. "CNG buses are more expensive and less reliable, and provide only marginal environmental benefits. Forcing Muni to adopt this technology could seriously impair service. We shouldnít leave passengers stranded on the bleeding edge of technology."

Rescue Muni expressed concern about the cost of the CNG vehicles. "These buses cost more to buy, more to repair, and more to fuel. Whereís the money coming from? Will service be cut to pay for this experiment?" asked Sullivan. "Rescue Muniís surveys document Muniís progress. Service is improving significantly, even though weíre not yet where we want to be. Replacing old vehicles as soon as possible has improved service to riders. Delaying the purchase for years could un-rescue Muni."

The riders group suggested that Muni buy the Neoplan buses and continue study of the CNG option. They also suggested that the best way to reduce emissions would be to convert lines to electric "trackless trolley" bus service. "CNG buses are low-emission vehicles, which Muni has no experience with, which use a fuel with an unstable and unpredictable price. On the other hand, 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 currently in the process of replacing the 15-Third diesel line with electric light rail.

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, 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 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.