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

Hotline: (415) 273-1558
board at rescuemuni.org
MARCH 4, 1999

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

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

Rescue Muni: Don’t Cut F-Market Service

Rescue Muni, the San Francisco transit riders association, joins Muni streetcar operators and passengers in urging the Municipal Railway to restore its scheduled cuts in F-Market service. Rescue Muni and concerned Muni operators on the F-Market line will hold a joint press conference at the streetcar turnaround at Castro and Market Streets on Thursday, March 4th, at 7:45 a.m.

“My customers demand more F-Market service, not less,” said Peter Ehrlich, an F-Market streetcar operator and Rescue Muni member. “Cutting service by 40 percent on Muni’s best-run line is a slap in the face to everyone who depends on it for reliable service.”

According to Muni’s most recent operator sign-up notice, F-Market service is scheduled to be cut by five “runs” a day on April 3, a cut of over 40 percent at peak hours. This represents a significant reduction in frequency; increased crowding is sure to follow, particularly on days when Muni’s underground Metro subway is having trouble.

“There they go again,” said Richard Mlynarik, a Rescue Muni steering committee member and J-Church rider. “Muni Metro still fails far too often to even think about reducing F-Market service. If anything, they should add even more historic streetcars, since they don’t break down as often. San Franciscans choose to ride the F-Market rather than suffer another breakdown in the Stygian subway, which still breaks down far too often.”

Muni management argues that, since the runs were added in response to the August Metro Meltodwn, the runs can be eliminated because Metro service is running better now. Rescue Muni cites morning rush hour slowdowns of Metro trains approaching Embarcadero station as evidence that all is not well with the Metro. “On three consecutive days during the week of February 15, major delays at about 8:15 a.m. forced hundreds of exasperated riders into the F-Market streetcars, whose operators got them to work with a smile on their face,” said Ehrlich.

Worse still, added Ehrlich, “any runs missing because of no available operator will impact service even more severely. The F-Market will no longer be able to cope with a major Metro delay or shutdown.”

Muni Metro carries over 100,000 people a day; many of those trains are crush-loaded. Even with the five additional runs scheduled for cancellation, F-Market cars consistently carry standing-room-only loads. Many senior citizens and disabled passengers actually prefer the F-Market to the supposedly disabled-accessible Metro subway because they avoid the subway’s frequently-broken escalators and elevators.

Rescue Muni’s 1998 annual performance survey cited the F-Market as Muni’s “most improved line,” cutting its percentage of late arrivals from 39% to 13% in a single year. Mlynarik added “The F-Market’s operators and maintainers are dedicated to its success and it shows. Muni should be making the most of its successes by building on them. Muni should pay attention to what its passengers want.”

“Since the Metro Meltdown, Muni hasn’t done any reasonable ridership survey. Before considering a cut of this magnitude, Muni should make a serious count of ridership and load levels on the F-Market and the Metro subway,” said Andrew Sullivan, Rescue Muni’s chair and chief spokesperson. “The F-Market is one of Muni’s success stories. It’s a line passengers actually want to ride.”

Riders are reluctant to be herded into the subway while service there remains highly unreliable. “Show us the service is better and we’ll come back,” said Mlynarik. “Until then, we’ll stick with the historic service, thank you all the same.”

Some facts about the proposed cuts on the F-Market:

· The number of morning rush hour streetcars will drop from 12 to 7, increasing headways–the interval between streetcars–from every 4-6 minutes to every 8-10 minutes.
· The number of midday streetcars will drop from 8 to 5, increasing headways to every 15 minutes.
· The number of evening rush hour streetcars will drop from 14 to 9, increasing headways from every 4-5 minutes to every 8-9 minutes

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 500 members throughout the city.

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