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Supervisor calls for hearing on Muni late-night safety

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Supervisors on Tuesday called for a hearing on late-night safety on Muni. (Photo by Flickr user torbakhopper)

Are women safe on Muni?

That’s the question the Board of Supervisors raised Tuesday morning, as transit officials presented plans to beef up late night transit.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani told the San Francisco Examiner she will call for a hearing into Muni safety, tentatively scheduled for June.

Safety concerns were raised after San Francisco County Transportation Authority senior planner Colin Dentel-Post presented late-night transit plans to the authority’s board, which is comprised of Board of Supervisors members.

The plans, developed by the Late Night Transportation Working Group, called for boosting late-night transit for workers and those with alternative schedules. Proposals included splitting Muni’s city-circling 91 Owl route, one of the few buses that run during late night hours, extending Muni service to Daly City, expanding transit service to job centers along the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf, and running more frequent buses on Geary Boulevard at night.

The Board of Supervisors urged the creation of the working group, a joint effort of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Entertainment Commission, in 2014.

After the presentation by SFCTA staff, Supervisor Fewer took umbrage at the lack of information about safety, and particularly women’s safety, on late night buses.

Fearing harassment, women “don’t ride Muni at night.” Fewer said, referring to late-night service. “If we want people to take public transportation, (safety is) a crucial data point,” Fewer told staff.

Dentel-Post, the SFCTA senior planner, replied that incidents spooking riders may happen “on the street” and not be counted as incident data for transit trips, one of the many challenges to collecting relevant safety data. There also may be “limited incidents in quantity” which may also hamper data collection efforts, he said.

But, Fewer contended, “a lot of it is about perception,” asserting that Muni must show its patrons that it is safe.

Supervisor Stefani said constituents have complained to her of harassment on Muni buses by out-of-control riders. “It’s something I hear all the time,” she said.

In response to concerns of Muni safety, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson Erica Kato wrote in a statement the agency has a “very robust security program” to serve passengers.

“We work close with (the San Francisco Police Department) to identify high crime lines,” she added, “and we look at the data to respond to where/when we deploy resources.”

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