Muni buses will operate more frequently and longer as of today, when 61 percent of the service cuts instituted on May 8 are restored, according to the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency.
In the Mission District, that means the 14-Mission will see late-night Owl services resume and the 14-Limited Mission will add buses from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., a move that will drop wait times from 12 minutes to nine.
“I’m glad they are increasing the frequency,” said Zoe Shaw, who was waiting at the 16th Street bus stop. “I had to take a lot of cabs since the reduction. If I waited for the bus, I’d be late to work.”
Others cited benefits of resuming the late-night service.
The service increases were possible because of improved operational efficiencies and additional one-time funding from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Commission, according to the Transportation Agency’s website.
Decisions about which services to restore were made based on feedback from people calling the city’s 311 customer service line, as well as on data analysis by the Transit Effectiveness Project, which focused on the frequency of services and the ridership of each route. Data for the project was collected by automatic passenger counter devices.
Muni riders said the changes are a step in right direction, but some wanted more, especially fare cuts. Fares are now $2 for adults and 75 cents for senior citizens and riders between the ages of 5 and 17.
With each fare, riders get one transfer that is good for 90 minutes.
“I take the Muni three or four times a day,” said Miguel Munez, a regular on the 14-Mission. “Each time I pay $2. It becomes $8 for me to travel through the day.” In the 1980s, he paid 65 cents.
Others had similar complaints about fares, which have doubled in the last 10 years, including a 50-cent increase in the last two years.
“They need some more security,” Munez added. “Someone to stop people from spraying the bus with graffiti and stop drunk people from getting into fights.” The San Francisco Police Department is charged with patrolling Muni buses.
Riders also wanted more consistent service. One ride on the 14-Mission during morning peak hours, 7-9 a.m., takes an hour, according to MTA figures.
Ways to a faster, more reliable Muni are being studied by the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, a nonprofit group of concerned transit riders that is sponsored fiscally by Livable City, an organization promoting sustainable transportation and land use in San Francisco.
At present, Muni is one of the slowest transit systems in North America, averaging 8.1 mph, which includes bus and light-rail speeds of 11 mph. In other cities the average speed is 20 mph.
The Transit Riders Union, which started meeting early this year, suggests speeding up buses to 9 mph, which it says would increase service by 10 percent at no extra cost.
Other suggestions to increase efficiency include speeding up boarding times by switching to a prepaid payment method, allowing back-door boarding and upgrading bus stops.
The group is also looking into transit signal priority systems, a rapid surface transit network across the city, stop consolidation and low-floor buses.
“It all comes down to the money,” said Transit Union coordinator Dave Snyder. The organization is creating working groups to campaign for more funding options, Snyder said. One idea is to reinvest the capital the MTA already has to improve efficiency and frequencies.
MTA’s budget for the next fiscal year, beginning July 2011, does include $14 million to continue to provide the restored service.