Public voice may alter Muni’s plans

Public outcry about the proposed elimination of bus lines will force Muni to steer its overhaul of the system in another direction, the transit agency’s top official said.

After two weeks of community meetings, Muni Executive Director and CEO Nathaniel Ford said revisions of the agency’s systemwide revamping proposals will be made, but he stopped short of saying the feedback will result in restoration of proposed bus-line eliminations.

Based on the suggestions of the Transit Effectiveness Project, a recently completed 18-month study aimed at increasing Muni efficiency, dozens of the department’s most heavily used lines are slated for increased service.

However, a point of contention at most of the community meetings has been the proposed elimination of six neighborhood lines.

“The idea over the next few months is to take all information and feedback from the meetings and then make the necessary modifications,” Ford told The Examiner on Tuesday. “It’s too early to tell [if lines will be saved] because we haven’t gathered all the data at this juncture.”

A meeting at Sunset district community center on April 24 drew a large number of supporters for the 66-Quintara line.

Residents at an April 30 meeting in the Mission district were upset at the loss of the 26-Valencia, and a Monday gathering in Visitacion Valley drew plenty of public support for the 56-Rutland, one of Muni’s least-used lines.

Charlie Sciammas, community organizer for the Mission-based advocacy group PODER, said the 26-Valencia serves as a vital link for the neighborhood because it offers an alternative to louder, more hostile buses that run on Mission Street.

“It’s very calm, and that’s important to the senior citizens and the youth who ride it regularly,” Sciammas said.

Andrew Sullivan, of the citizens’ group Rescue Muni, said more neighborhood residents needed to get a grasp of the bigger picture of the TEP.

“What happens is you get organized negative campaigns from a few people with their own parochial interest and not citywide interest,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he is considering advocating to patrons on overcrowded buses such as the 5-Fulton and the 49-Van Ness — both of which are slated for more increased services — as a way to promote the positive changes of the TEP.

Five more community meetings on the TEP are scheduled, with the next one being held Saturday at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.

wreisman@examiner.com

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