Muni: Popularity breeds late buses, trains

An examination into Muni transit lines with the highest number of commuters showed a handful of routes making headway in the fight to arrive on time, while the most popular buses left passengers waiting a little longer. According to Muni data, the two most popular lines in the Muni system saw the largest percentage drop in on-time arrivals between 2005-06 and 2006-07. Muni tracks data according to The City’s fiscal year, which runs July 1 through June 30.

The 14-Mission bus, the most widely used Muni line during 2005-06 with a 33,461-rider weekday average, saw the biggest slip in on-time performance, according to Muni.

The 14-Mission arrived at stops when scheduled 75.1 percent of the time in 2005-06, but during the following year, that average dropped to 71.2 percent, a difference of 3.9 percent in on-time performance.

The N-Judah, a popular light-rail line for the transit agency, had an average weekday ridership of 31,381 during 2005-06 and was on time 75.8 percent. The next year, that average fell 3.2 percent to 72.6.

While those lines are some of the most popular, others with high ridership showed significant improvement in 2006-07.

The 49-Van Ness/Mission bus, a crosstown route with an average of 25,192 daily riders during 2005-06, showed a 10.1 percent increase in on-time performance, jumping from 62.9 percent to 73 percent on time this last year.

Similarly, the M-Ocean View light rail increased by 8.8 percent between years to 72.2 percent this past year.

Driver and vehicles shortages have limited the number of peak-time runs on Muni lines, with the buses and streetcars on the streets being more crowded, according to officials. With more passengers, the time needed for boarding and exiting the bus increases and feeds the ever-frustrating wait for Muni.

In 1999, San Francisco voters approved Proposition E, which mandated that Muni vehicles arrive on time 85 percent of the time. Six bus lines achieved that goal once during the 2006-07 year: the 4-Sutter; 16AX Noriega; 53-Southern Heights; 56-Rutland; 80X-Gateway Express; 81X-Caltrain Express and 108-Treasure Island.

The 4-Sutter and 108-Treasure Island were the only lines with yearlong averages above 85 percent on time, according to Muni data.

dsmith@examiner.com

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