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Muni falls short of summertime service goals

San Francisco transit officials reviewed a 90-day progress report on Muni service since the summer debacle on the lack of bus service citywide.

Julie Kirschbaum, acting director of transit with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, admitted that the transit agency did not live up to providing reliable service citywide over the summer:

“This summer I don’t think we lived up to that target. As a result, our service delivery not as high as it should have been and we did feel systemwide impacts for both our bus and our rail customers.”

An operator shortage and the closure of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, which required to take Muni operators of off some bus lines and onto shuttle buses that replaced train service, caused a lack of bus service citywide.

Transit officials in August gave themselves goals to meet within 90 days, and Mayor London Breed was watching as she sent a letter to The City’s top transit official, Ed Reiskin, to shape up.

Kirschbaum, presented a report card to the transit agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday that showed that Muni is making some progress in recovering from what was long summer for the SFMTA and its passengers.

About 95 percent of scheduled Muni service is out on the streets. The transit agency gave itself a goal of 96 percent by the end of the 90-day mark. The City’s mandated goal in the City Charter is 98.5 percent, but Kirischbaum is aiming to reach 100 percent.

In July, the transit agency overall was only delivering 91.4 percent of scheduled service. Thousands of scheduled Muni service hours were missed, including on heavily-used lines like the 38-Geary, according to a report by the Budget Legislative Analyst.

Another goal the transit agency set out for itself was to reduce gaps on rapid bus line and on rail lines. The goal was to have 12 percent or lower in gaps in service on rapid Muni lines, and the transit agency met the goal.

On rail lines, the goal was to have 20 percent or below in gaps in service. The transit agency came close with 21 percent.

The SFMTA is still falling short of improving on-time performance on its low-frequency routes.

Transit officials had hoped improve overall on-time performance 63 percent or above but the on-time performance currently sits at 55 percent.

Kirschbaum said the 90-day action plan that staff set out to achieve was productive.

The transit agency was able to train 275 operators on the new Muni trains and converted some part-time drivers to full-time.

Crews replaced switches at the Duboce Portal where the N-Judah and J-Church enter and exit the subway, which has been the scene of many delays on both  lines.

Still, the transit agency’s biggest challenge remains hiring new operators, which was one of the causes of the lack of Muni service over the summer.

A report by Budget Legislative Analyst presented at a Board of Supervisors hearing Thursday showed that the transit agency needs 411 operators in order to deliver the full scheduled Muni service.

Reiskin said the SFMTA is working with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to explore ways of getting people ready to become bus drivers:

“This is something that is going to take a lot of focus in order to bring in the staffing that we’re going to need to provide the service.”

The Budget Legislative Analyst report suggested having a free City College of San Francisco class that can people prepare to get their Class B license.

Kirschbaum said staff will use the rest of December to review and discuss the results and set new actions for plans to improve service on the subway.

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