SF transit chief apologizes for NextBus outage

San Francisco’s top transportation official apologized for the NextBus outage that inconvenienced Muni riders who rely on the system for arrival times of Muni buses and trains.

During last Tuesday’s San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors meeting, Ed Reiskin, directior of transportation, said of the outage:

“I recognize that it was very significant and inconvenience for a lot of folks and so I want to apologize to our riders and anyone else impacted… and fully take responsibility for that outage.”

Reiskin added:

“We don’t expect anything like that to recur in the future.”

The outage began during the first week of January when predictions on the NextBus mobile app, displays at transit shelters and inside the Muni Metro became wildly inaccurate.

Officials at the transit agency said the problem stemmed from AT&T shutting off its 2G wireless cellular network, which the NextBus system relies on to transmit data.

According to AT&T’s website, the company turned off its 2G network on Dec. 31. SFMTA officials said they thought they had more time to upgrade Muni vehicles to AT&T’s 3G network.

Staff from the transit agency and NextBus worked on upgrading Muni vehicles with new modems as vehicles pulled in at the end of the night, the transit agency said.

Most of the Muni’s light rail vehicle predictions were back up on Jan. 10. Last week, the transit agency said 90 percent of predictions for all Muni vehicles also returned online.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told SFBay the transit agency expects 100 percent coverage this week.

Rose said the transit agency is working on updating its radio communications system called the Computer Aided Dispatch and Automated Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL), which the NextBus uses.

In a presentation last year with the transit advocacy group Save Muni, staff said the transit agency is looking to replace the prediction system and signage with an implementation start date targeted for the summer of 2018.