One Step Forward, One Leap Back

Cameras installed in San Francisco Muni's 800 busses helped cut accidents by 50 percent. Just when we were about to praise the Municipal Railway – the wires bring news of Muni returning to form.

First – the praise. The Examiner reports that cameras installed in the troubled fleet’s 800 busses helped cut accidents by 50 percent. The cameras act like black boxes – recording what happens if the bus is jarred by quick accelerations or decelerations (which describe many Muni rides and almost all crashes). Apparently, the knowledge that Muni brass would know what happened in an accident promoted better driving. And understanding who was having trouble out there behind the wheel allowed Muni to provide additional training to struggling drivers.

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This is Gov 2.0 in action – using simple technology to create dramatically better service and to save money (Muni has paid out tens of millions for accidents over the past few years). Some drivers complained about privacy. But is there really a right to privately endanger passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists?

But just when we felt a little better about Muni – here comes the bad news. Against the advice of their own respected budget analyst, the Board of Supervisors last night voted to sign a gold plated lease with a private landlord to house Muni’s operations center.

The Examiner’s Joshua Sabatini pretty much sums it up:

“The Board of Supervisors budget analyst Harvey Rose advised the board to reject the proposal. The lease would have the SFMTA occupy 35,749 more square feet, or 216 percent, than such functions currently occupy, and the costs would increase by 513 percent a year: from the existing $256,237 annual rent to $1,569,944.“

So that’s more than $12 million over the ten-year lease.

But that’s so Muni – one step forward, one leap back.

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