Muni Metro Meltdown: 1000 Riders Demand Immediate Action
SAN FRANCISCO, August 31, 1998 - Riders are understandably furious at Muni for Metro
service last week. Muni made very significant changes in how we use the system without
telling us in advance how it would change and how the changes would improve the system
after implementation glitches were fixed. This turned a difficult situation of change
into a nightmare and brought already frustrated riders far past the boiling point.
If Muni had only used a few of the billboards in the subway stations to explain key
changes in advance, the incredible overcrowding at Embarcadero platform would not
have happened; most riders would have grumbled but understood what was going on.
Instead, only proof of payment (POP) was explained, and only that riders needed
to have POP with them on a vehicle or on a platform, forgetting to mention how the
white buttons on the Bredas would open the doors while on the street. Also, of course,
thousands of riders were left in the dark during the major delays that plagued the
first week of ATCS service, not knowing when their car would arrive or the cause
of the trouble.
To regain riders’ confidence, Muni must immediately:
- apologize for the poor advance communication;
- fix the bugs so that all trains can consistently use the automatic train control
- deliver complete, accurate information on the status of the crisis until it is
- make sure that all station agents and operators know the cause and severity of
any delays, relay that information immediately to customers, and fully explain Metro
alternatives (including BART where appropriate) to riders;
- fully explain to the riding public the purpose and goals of ATCS;
- open up its mind and listen to riders when they suggest ways to run the Metro/streetcar
system more efficiently;
- work out a flexible and efficient agreement with the Transport Workers Union
such that trains go outbound in proper sequence instead of sending five K‚s or J‚s
or N‚s in a row;
- work out a reasonable deal with BART on the use of the Fast Pass on BART within
- show steady quarterly improvement in outputs (service quantity and quality),
not just inputs (employees) before the Board of Supervisors as the full requested
funding kicks in starting October 1; and
- think of Muni riders as customers, not cattle.
Through these steps Muni Director Cruz and Mayor Brown can cool down the firestorm
of anger that erupted last week and take the first step on a long journey to regain
the respect of Muni riders. To encourage such steps, RESCUE MUNI volunteers gathered
well over 1000 signatures Friday evening at downtown Metro stations in a matter of
a little over two hours. We will be requesting a meeting with Muni officials early
this week to discuss their progress in implementing ATCS and our recommended improvements
to Metro operations.
RESCUE MUNI, A Transit Riders’ Association for San Francisco, is an organization
of concerned riders who seek to make service faster, safer, more reliable, and more
responsive to riders’ needs. Founded in 1996, it now has more than 320 members throughout
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