Report shows no love for Muni

Muni’s on-time performance is failing to live up to the service level San Francisco voters said they wanted eight years ago and some buses have barely shown up on schedule half of the time during the last six years.

Passengers who travel on the 81X-Caltrain Express — which runs in the morning hours from Townsend and Fourth streets to Beale and Howard streets crossing Market Street twice — have the distinction of boarding the worst on-time performing bus in the Muni system.

This bus has shown up on schedule only an average of 51 percent of the time during the last six fiscal years, according to a voter-mandated service report. It’s estimated that 125 riders board this line daily.

The 353 riders who daily board the Muni late-night-service route known as the 90-Owl, which runs from Visitacion Valley to Fort Mason, have a more predictable transit experience. The 90-Owl has arrived on schedule 84.5 percent of the time during the past six fiscal years, the best on-time performer in the Muni system.

During the last six fiscal years, Muni’s worst on-time performance systemwide was in fiscal year 2004, when Muni showed up on schedule 68.8 percent of time, the report said.

The best on-time service came in fiscal year 2005 when Muni made its scheduled stops 71 percent of the time. In the first three months of this fiscal year — July though September — Muni has been on time 70.8 percent of the time.

The board of directors for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will review the report today, two weeks after voting to give a $17,000 raise and a $20,860 bonus to MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford. Ford, who took over in January 2006 as the highest-paid public employee, will be earning $315,140 a year.

The transit agency has long been criticized for its unreliable buses. In 1999, voters approved Proposition E, which mandated a regular review of Muni’s performance and set performance measures to improve service. Muni buses, streetcars and the historic cable cars are supposed to be on time at least 85 percent of the time, voters said.

Those who want better Muni service are hopeful positive changes will come from the Transit Effectiveness Project, an 18-month study thatwill overhaul the transit system, as well as Proposition A, which voters approved this November. The ballot measure allocates at least $26 million more to Muni and grants MTA more autonomy.

“What we’re looking at is what the future holds,” MTA spokesman Alan Siegel said. He said that while on-time performance “is not what it should be,” overall it “tends to be getting better.”

jsabatini@examiner.com

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