The Examiner reports a Muni bus hit a pedestrian Monday evening bringing the total number of “pedestrian incidents” to 20 since the start of Muni’s fiscal year on July 1.
20 incidents? Why so many? Is this excessive? Yes. Is this Muni’s fault? Yes. What causes this? Poor management and overzealous union agreements.
Muni operates a total of 1,000 vehicles during limited hours of the day. For comparison, there are 1,500 taxis in the City operating 24 hours per day. I could not find any report of pedestrians being struck by taxicabs since July 1. The most recent taxi/pedestrian incident (that I could find via Google) was in April, but the struck lady was okay in the end.
Here’s the key difference: When a bus driver hits a pedestrian, he or she continues to be paid. When a taxi driver hits a pedestrian he or she is out of a job.
Muni drivers involved in incidents such as these are shifted to ‘nondriving status‘ during the investigation. Most investigations show it was the pedestrian’s fault and the driver keeps working. The transport worker union has fought to make it onerous and slow for Muni to fire people. This is bad.
As a taxi driver, you stop working for a while, WITHOUT PAY, if you hit someone in your cab. Even if you’re not at fault, you will probably not continue driving unless your cab company is desperate for drivers. Most are not.
Driving a bus is a difficult task. A bus is an unwieldy box with horrible acceleration and braking abilities. This is not an easy job. I respect that.
But, I don’t respect a management system without effective punishment for pedestrian incidents. This management policy breeds a lackadaisical attitude.
In most cases, hitting a pedestrian should be “game over”, not a “time out”.