TEP proposes good things for Muni. Is this good news?

38 geary

A week ago the Chronicle reported on some promising preliminary recommendations based on findings from the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP).

These recommendations are great. In many ways they are in line with common sense: improve highly used lines using BRT, ditch under-used lines.

Aside from the frustrating fact that it took Muni 40 years to figure this out, let’s focus on the positive: at least someone realizes what to do next.

But, I have a hard time being excited about these proposals. I cannot hide my fear that Muni is barely capable of managing its own operations, let alone managing a system-wide overhaul. They just can’t do things right.

This is an agency that claims multiple times in press releases and at public information events that they can’t seem to hire enough bus drivers. Yet, they don’t post bus operators as an available job on their website. (I would know too — I’ve looked many times, pushed by a perverse desire to drive a bus in the City.)

This is an agency that spent nearly a billion dollars to replace a bus line (the 15) with a light rail system (T-Third) that offered barely any noticeable improvement in service quality, or, by many accounts, a decrease in service quality.

This is an agency that has virtually zero accountability over its ground-level workforce due to extremely onerous union negotiated contracts. They can’t even immediately fire operators after they’ve killed innocent pedestrians.

This is an agency that, to operate most efficiently and implement changes suggested by the TEP, needs absolute access priority over roadway design and right-of-way for its transit vehicles. So far, no evidence has been shown that Muni’s merger with DPT has provided this level of absolute priority. Nor have the actions of the Mayor nor the Board of Supervisors shown that they have the interest or even the ability to offer such priority for our dear Municipal Railway.

So, rock on TEP. Just don’t write checks you can’t cash.

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