They Don’t Want an App for That

August 9, 2012

The venerable San Francisco Civil Grand Jury is out today with their report detailing possible solutions to the San Francisco Municipal Railway’sswitchback” problems.

“Switchback” is what Muni calls it when they stop a streetcar or bus before the end of the run, kick out the passengers to wait for the next vehicle, and then head back in the opposite direction.

The practice obviously angers passengers, who thought they were finally on their way home or to their destination, only to be dumped out onto the street, regardless of the time or night or inclement weather.

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You can read the Grand Jury’s report and recommendations here. You can also read the Muni’s rapid response below.

But what is worth a detailed read is the report’s finding that the Muni turned down a free iPad app using GPS to help track vehicles and avoid switchbacks. The Muni said it didn’t have the budget for the iPads needed to make the app work.

Anyone want to donate some iPads to Muni? We’re serious. Maybe if we gave them a few they would give us a break and end the “Switchbacks.” Let us know!
 

SFMTA Board Chairman and Director of Transportation Issue Statements on Civil Grand Jury Report

San Francisco—Tom Nolan, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today issued the following statements on the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury Report, “Better Muni Service Needed, Without Switchbacks.”

Nolan said: “Managing a public transportation system in a city such as San Francisco is quite challenging and requires staff to balance multiple and competing needs. When I joined the Board, I had an extensive background with several transit agencies, yet it still took time for me to recognize all of the nuances that go into managing this unique system. The Civil Grand Jury report recommendations and findings reveal how tough it is to get a good understanding of the system. This lack of understanding has unfortunately resulted in a report that is superficial at best.”

Reiskin said: “The notion that we should run every bus and every train to the end of the line on every run is not a good practice, let alone a best practice. Switchbacks are one of many techniques routinely used by Muni and its peer transit systems across the U.S. in order to provide and restore reliable, scheduled service. The more important conversation to have is how do we improve Muni service overall. We are working aggressively to reduce the need for unscheduled switchbacks and further lessen their impact so that we minimize any inconvenience to our customers. This effort includes an aggressive overhaul program to improve the reliability and extend the life of our light rail vehicles—part of a larger emphasis on maintenance in the current two-year budget.”
 

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Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137