Survey shows lowest satisfaction with Muni since 2001

A little more than half of Muni riders are currently satisfied with the service — the lowest approval rating for the transit system in nearly a decade.

More than 700,000 passengers ride 80 routes that traverse The City each day, but those riders have been paying more in the past year while the agency adjusted service. The price for a monthly pass increased twice, from $45 to as much as $70. Also, service was slashed on many Muni lines, leaving passengers waiting longer for more-crowded buses.

On Tuesday, transit agency chief Nathaniel Ford said he was “somewhat satisfied” with the results of a customer survey “because it could have been worse” given the recent fare and service changes.

“We would have liked [customer satisfaction] to be much higher, but we recognize that we did a couple of things this past year that had negative impacts,” said Ford, who is executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.  

In addition to service reductions and fare increases, Muni vehicles were involved in a number of high-profile accidents, including a two-train collision at the West Portal station that injured 47 people in July 2009.

Muni’s 52 percent approval rating marked a 3 percent decline since the SFMTA’s last customer survey, which was conducted in 2007. It was the lowest satisfaction among riders since 2001, when just 48 percent said the agency was doing a good job.

Ford pointed to the SFMTA’s achievements, including a record 73.5 percent on-time performance rate last fiscal year, an improving safety record and an avoidance of the draconian service cuts enacted by other transit providers as indications that Muni was moving in the right direction.

Ian Toll — a Panhandle resident who frequently rides the 38-Geary, 21-Hayes and 43-Masonic — said miserable Muni service overshadowed any recent breakthroughs the agency may have accomplished.

“It’s just bad,” said Toll, who stopped buying Muni’s Fast Pass after it was raised to $70 in January. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waited 45 minutes for a bus only to have four different ones show up all at once. Plus, it’s way too expensive.”
Sara Hayes, an Alamo Square resident who takes the 21-Hayes bus, said Muni service works for her.

“It gets me where I need to go,” Hayes said. “It may be a little crowded in the morning, but I don’t think that’s a big deal.”

The SFMTA released the results of its 2010 ridership survey Tuesday. Conducted from Aug. 17 through Sept. 13, the poll questioned 563 Muni passengers.

wreisman@sfexexaminer.com

 

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