Sluggish Muni ekes out service improvements

After six months of diminishing returns, Muni’s operating performance crept upward last month, but the agency is still far from achieving its goals.

From March to August, Muni’s on-time performance  slid downward steadily, from 63.2 percent to 57.2 percent.

The agency has a voter-mandated goal of achieving an 85 percent on-time performance rate — a mark that has not been remotely approached since it became a benchmark in 1999.

Muni’s September performance did not break that streak, but it was a month-to-month improvement at 58.4 percent. It also marked just the second time since March that Muni improved on its rate from the previous month.

Muni’s scheduled service hours delivered also improved, going from 93.9 percent in August to 95.7 percent in September — the highest mark since March. The agency has a goal of 98.5 percent.

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, said the September numbers are encouraging, but the agency still has a long way to go.

Muni recently graduated a class of transit operators, bringing much-needed bus drivers into the fold, which has helped improve service. A drop in unscheduled absence rates for operators — the 9.4 percent mark was the lowest since March — also helped improve reliability, Rose said.

The agency has been working on rehabbing old buses to put them back on the streets and recently purchased vehicles will be available by next year. With more operators and more reliable equipment, Muni hopes to see consistent improvement in its performance marks, Rose said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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