Ming Vong/The S.F. ExaminerHybrid buses similar to this one will replace the NX-Judah Express buses.

Muni NX buses to be replaced with hybrids

The marked, blue-striped NX-Judah Express buses that have helped alleviate the burden of Muni’s busiest light-rail line in the last couple of years are being replaced with newer vehicles beginning Monday.

Since serving as part of a pilot program in summer 2011, the NX buses — which offer partial express service between downtown and the Sunset — have “developed a real following,” according to John Haley, transit director for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The new fleet of hybrids will be rebranded by departing from the line’s original, blue-stripe design and simply feature its name on a bright destination sign.

The NX buses have regularly carried more than 1,600 passengers each day, a big relief to the N-Judah line, which serves about 45,000 people daily. The equally priced alternative to the train also boasts an 80 percent on-time performance rate, well above the overall system at roughly 60 percent, Haley said.

“We wanted this line to be the standard of all Muni service,” he said. “This is kind of a rite of passage. We don’t want to see the performance slip and in fact, we want to make it get better. It’s time to make the transition.”

The 16 NX buses being phased out are some of the oldest in the transit agency’s fleet and were acquired from AC Transit.

“I feel like I’m delivering some sort of obituary or requiem speech, but these buses actually have had two lives if you will. They’ve actually grown out of the teenage years,” Haley said. “They have served us well and it’s time for them to go.”

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