Mayor Discovers Muni Is Not So Good

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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Mayor Discovers Muni Is Not So Good

soupstance via Flickr

A crowded muni car on the K line at Church.

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Mayor Ed Lee's relationship with Muni has been a little difficult to pin down. One moment, he's telling reporters that it's an embarrassment, other times he says that fixing it is not a priority. It probably doesn't help that he drives to work, rather than riding his own transit system.

But in an interview with Streetsblog this week, the mayor set the record straight.

The mayor's top priority is implementing the Transit Effectiveness Project. That was a massive research initiative undertaken several years ago that identified numerous ways for Muni to improve efficiency. But because of funding cuts under the Newsom administration, those improvements were never made.

During that time, Muni's struggle for cash prevented it from being able to afford to make any changes. Muni's CEO, Nathaniel Ford, is the highest paid municipal employee in the City, earning more than the mayor.

Mayor Lee expressed frustration that San Francisco's technology lags so far behind other cities.

The controversial move of eliminating bus stops is on the table, the mayor said. Everyone agrees that bus stops need to be eliminated to help speed Muni, which would save $40 million a year -- at least, they agree until it's their neighborhood stop on the chopping block.

The TEP also recommended timing traffic signals to let buses through, clearing away double-parkers, and finding ways to let people pre-pay.

The mayor also said that he was prepared for the departure of Nat Ford, who has been widely rumored to be job-hunting for several years.

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