Mayor Gavin Newsom: Muni service modernization will improve efficiency

Tomorrow, when you get to your Muni stop for your morning commute, you will see a new Muni system. We hope you will find less crowded vehicles running on an improved transit system.

Some routes or segments of routes are being eliminated because of low ridership, and some service is ending earlier.

However, we are also enhancing service on many of the busiest routes. The new system is the result of the largest Muni route overhaul in a generation, which impacts 60 percent of all bus routes and one light-rail line. Please know your options and make sure to check www.sfmta.com or call 311 for complete information on the service changes.

The route modernizations were motivated in part by a historically large Muni deficit. But the new routes and schedules designed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, are saving costs by improving efficiency and not significantly reducing the number of buses on the streets. Changes to routes are designed to reduce the number of people at stops that are passed by crowded buses. Increased limited-stop and express service will mean a faster ride on crowded transit corridors such as Geary, Mission and San Bruno.

We were fortunate to design these changes with the extensive data and public feedback gathered during the two-year Transit Effectiveness Project, which informed our choices so they could be made based on solid information. By modernizing the route map and operator schedules, the SFMTA will achieve more than $3 million in annual savings while more closely matching the bus system to 21st century patterns of where people want to travel.

Right now the focus is on getting the word out to Muni customers. A master brochure is in wide circulation on the Muni system and throughout The City. The SFMTA is dispatching about 100 Service Ambassadors each day to help people at bus stops and on Muni vehicles.

These changes are not the last word. The Mayor’s Office is working closely with the SFMTA and 311 to actively collect rider feedback. I encourage you to call 311 or visit www.sfgov.org/311 to let us know how the changes are working for you. In the next six months, the SFMTA will be monitoring the changes and making adjustments along the way as needed. We want to make sure the new system is working for you, the customers.

Change is rarely easy. Muni customers who have to find a new bus route to take them to work or the doctor’s office will be understandably frustrated. And with dramatic changes to a system as comprehensive and complex as Muni, there are likely to be some challenges as the changes take effect.

It is crucial to remember, though, that public transportation is part of what makes San Francisco a great city, and we have to make tough decisions to see it succeed. On behalf of all city departments, from the Mayor’s Office to the SFMTA, thank you for riding Muni.

Gavin Newsom is the mayor of San Francisco.

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