Muni seeks fix for sinking on-time performance

Muni officials are setting a goal to improve on-time performance by as much as 10 percent this year.

On-time performance had been steady around 60 percent last year, but stumbled to 54 percent from October to December, a report from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said.

The City’s goal for the transit agency is 85 percent. The SFMTA has never met the goal since voters approved the mandate in 1999.

The report, heard at a SFMTA Board of Directors workshop this week, also showed that the transit agency has not made many improvements in decreasing the number of bunches and gaps in service over the last year.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the transit agency is taking a number of actions to improve Muni service and reliability, which include filling operator schedules, purchasing new trains and buses and upgrading maintenance programs and practices to reduce the number of delays:

“We have increased training classes by hiring more training staff. We should be fully staffed in the spring.”

In the last three months, operator classes have graduated 34 drivers in November and 45 drivers in December of last year, said Rose. Last month another 47 drivers graduated.

Rose said this month that tentatively 39 drivers are to to graduate from another class on Feb. 12.

The Muni system will need more drivers as the transit agency plans to add more service in April on the 5L-Fulton, 8X-Bayshore, 22-Fillmore 30X-Stockton and 38L-Geary bus routes.

The transit agency is also getting an additional 121 new buses by the spring, which include 60 articulated coaches and 61 articulated hybrid motor coaches.

Reinforcing timeliness to operators is another strategy the transit agency is using to improve reliability by putting up clocks at terminals to get operators to leave on time.

Work is also being done though the transit agency’s Muni Forward program (formerly the Transit Effectiveness Project) to implement capital projects like transit signal priority and red transit-only lanes.

As Muni ridership is at a five-year high, more light rail vehicles will have seats taken out to accommodate more riders on vehicles. The transit agency tested the reconfigured vehicles last year.

The SFMTA said riders can expect 10 more reconfigured vehicles for more standing room in the spring.