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New task force challenges Muni to improve

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Monday announced the formation of a working group that will review the current state of Muni’s rail and bus systems and make recommendations to improve The City’s transit system by the beginning of 2020.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni operations, has experienced operational challenges for about a year —lack of bus operators, mechanical and safety issues with new trains and an aging infrastructure—that have caused numerous delays inside the Muni Metro subway.

In a statement, Breed said the transit system has to work for everyone who uses Muni to go to work, to school or to appointments:

“It needs to be reliable, safe, and efficient. That requires us continuing to invest in new trains and buses, but also looking at the system as a whole to see how we can make improvements.”

The mayor has put the transit agency and its leadership on blast since last year. She gave a stark warning that she wanted to see improvements in service, but in an April letter to the SFMTA board she expressed frustration with worsening service.

Breed said the working group will consist of 11 members with Bay Area transportation expertise, including the SFMTA’s Board of Directors Vice Chair Gwyneth Borden, former city controller and general manager of the Public Utilities Commission Ed Harrington and executive director of AC Transit Mike Hursch.

Supervisors Aaron Peskin, San Francisco County Transportation Authority chair, and Rafael Mandelman, helped convene the Transit Performance Working Group.

Peskin said in a statement:

“This long overdue working group brings together some of the best minds in transit policy to determine the reforms necessary to ensure that public money is being spent wisely and with public input. Building on the group’s shared institutional knowledge, we should be able to recommend a restructuring that will ensure SFMTA delivers better, faster and more reliable public transportation for the hundreds of millions of riders annually who depend on our system.”

Mandelman, who represents District 8, said he has heard “harrowing tales” from constituents who ride Muni and hopes the working group’s report will guide the transit agency’s improvement efforts.

Muni Out of Service
Paul Sullivan/Flickr

Mandelman said:

“In this 20th anniversary year since Proposition E established the SFMTA and with a change of leadership on the way, we have an opportunity and obligation to evaluate this agency’s track record and current performance and offer its new leadership a roadmap to fixing Muni and delivering San Franciscans the 21st century world-class transit system they deserve.”

New leadership is on the horizon as the SFMTA’s current Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin has sought not to renew his contract in August.

A committee of three directors on the SFMTA board are in process of searching for a new director.

Seven SFMTA boardmembers will have final say on who is hired, but it may not be until November until someone is chosen.

Transit Performance Working Group Members:

  • Gwyneth Borden, incoming SFMTA board president
  • Ed Harrington, former city controller and Public Utilities Commission general manager
  • Dr. Beverly Scott, former executive director of transit systems in Atlanta, Boston and other states
  • Mike Hursch, AC Transit executive director and former SFMTA deputy director
  • James Gallagher, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Agency chief operations officer
  • Kathleen Kelly, former executive and senior roles at AC Transit, BART and with The City
  • Alicia Jean-Baptiste, SPUR executive director and former SFMTA chief of staff
  • Roger Morenco, Transit Workers Union Local 250-A president
  • Terrence Hall, Transit Workers Union Local 250-A treasurer
  • Rachel Hyden, of the Transit Riders Union executive director
  • Queena Chen, MTA Citizen Advisory Committee and Chinatown Transportation Improvement Project

Source: San Francisco Mayor’s Office

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