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Reiskin responds to criticism, sets 90-day goals

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SFMTA Muni new train

Days after San Francisco Mayor London Breed sent a letter to The City’s top transit official to shape up, Ed Reiskin sent his official response back to the mayor.

Breed on Monday wrote in her letter that she was concerned with the lack of Muni service and the lack of background checks on safety before approving contracts with contractors on projects related to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Reiskin wrote in his four-page letter, dated Wednesday, to Breed:

“While we have made great progress at the SFMTA in many areas, including significant improvements to the Muni system, our recent and current performance is unacceptable. I remain fully committed to continued and sustained improvements to Muni and to the performance of the agency as a whole. As Director of Transportation, I will always accept accountability for that performance.”

In the letter, Reiskin outlined what the transit agency has already put in place or plans to do in the future to improve workplace safety and improving Muni service.

Patrick Ricketts, 51, a construction worker with Shimmick Construction, was killed this month while working on the SFMTA’s Twin Peaks Tunnel project. Ricketts was struck by a temporary steel beam and died of his injuries at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

After the incident, it was revealed that the Oakland-based Shimmick Construction had previous workplace violations in the past but were not disclosed to the transit agency during the prequalification bidding process for the project.

Reiskin wrote the company had completed a number of a projects for The City in the past, and based on the familiarity with the contractor, the SFMTA replied on the answers given on a questionnaire on workplace safety violations from the contractor.

On future contracts, Reiskin wrote:

“Going forward, we will independently verify the safety performance of all prospective contractors and we will also work with the City Attorney’s Office and other agencies to consider changes to existing citywide policies and practices. In addition we are reviewing our internal practices for contractor oversight on construction work.”

Another issue that not only frustrated Breed but also Muni riders was the performance of Muni throughout the summer.

The San Francisco Examiner reported at least a 1,000 hours of Muni service was missing a day due to an operator shortage.

Riders complained about long waits for Muni buses to arrive, some waiting for 40 minutes at the bus stop.

The transit had not been meeting its city-mandated goal of having 98.5 percent of scheduled service out on the streets.

Another issue with the lack of Muni service on some of the bus routes is that drivers were pulled to help drive the shuttle buses on the L-Taraval and M-Ocean View during the closture of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, which is set for completion this weekend.

Reiskin addressed those concerns publicly at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting saying that the transit agency did not do enough to anticipate and mitigate the impacts of Muni service citywide.

The transit agency plans to convert part-time Muni operators to full-time, expand training class sizes and working to certify more operators to operate the new Muni trains.

In the letter, he wrote that he expects Muni service by next week to improve and set out goals within the next 90 days for the SFMTA to achieve.

Those goals include:

  • Reducing gaps on rapid bus lines by 5 percent (5R-Fulton, 9R-San Bruno, 14R-Mission, 29R-Sunset and 38R-Geary).
  • Reducing gaps on Muni Metro by 3 percent.
  • Improving on-time performance on routes with a frequency of 15 minutes or less by 3 percent.
  • Reduce preventable collisions systemwide by 5 percent.
  • Increasing service delivery to 96 percent in support of improving on-time performance and reducing gaps.

Reiskin wrote:

“I am confident that these corrective measures will manifest in improvements to the service that will not only be measurable on the Controller’s scorecard but also be noticeable to our riders.”

Reiskin, though, did highlight some improvements that the transit has completed including the purchase new Muni trains and buses, a higher average customer satisfaction score from riders increased Muni service on some routes and the completion of a number of capital projects such as brand Islais Creek bus dept.

The transit agency is also working going through 12 permit applications for its pilot electric scooter program.

Breed also wrote in her letter that she was concerned about the “opaque” process to select the permittees.

Reiskin wrote that electric scooters were new territory not just for the SFMTA but also for other cities nationwide:

“Scooters represent a new and different set of challeneges and it our intest to deliver a pilot program that is consistent with our commitments to pedestrian safety, equity, and inclusive public outreach.”

The transit agency expects to complete the process of choosing permittees by the end of the week, wrote Reiskin.

Breed will be actively monitoring the SFMTA’s performance by viewing the Controller’s Office scorecards, which tracks 12 transportation performance measures, including Muni on-time performance, Muni trips with bunching or gaps and percentage of scheduled hours delivered.

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