Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bus Facilities and Parking Enforcement

Mass Transit Magazine has an interview with San Francisco Muni Executive Director Nat Ford (which I found via the Orphan Road). The most interesting thing about the article is that Muni oversees the public parking facilities in San Francisco, including not only on-street spaces and garages but parking enforcement as well.

Ford discovered that the atrocious (70%) on-time performance rates for the bus system were largely due to problems on fifteen lines, and that many of those problems had to do with parked cars blocking bus lanes and stops. Well, Muni has the ability to send in large numbers of parking control officers to those routes and clear up those problems.

It seems head-slappingly obvious, and you wonder why nobody thought of that before, but according to the article it only became clear after a comprehensive analysis of the system, which hadn't been done in thirty years. Of course, it seems head-slappingly obvious that if you've got such crappy on-time performance rates you might want to do an in-depth investigation, but apparently Ford's predecessors were happy to tread water.

The other mind-boggling statistic was 150 "missed trips" a day. That means 150 times a day, people were waiting at the bus stop and no bus came. Or if a bus came, it was the bus after the one that was supposed to come, and it had twice as many people on it. Ford figured out that this was partly due to the fact that they had 300 bus operators on long-term disability. I'm not sure what he means by "working every name, every person," but I'm hoping that he gently eased them back into work, or out into another job. In any case, it makes perfect sense that with 150 less long-term disabled bus operators to pay, and 150 new ones hired, they're now down to 30 missed trips a day.

And here I thought Green Lines had problems. If Nat Ford is ever out of a job, I hope we can find him work at our MTA.


fpteditors said...

This all makes sense when you realize that good management of transit authorities is bad for carbon-auto profits. Good managers will be punished and bad ones rewarded. Remember how Reagan instructed his cabinet appointees to hamstring their departments?

Cap'n Transit said...

Editors, I tend to follow Hanlon's Razor on these things: never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Not to say that valuable incompetence can't be conveniently overlooked by higher-ups, but I don't think there's enough evidence for a conspiracy in this particular area.