Reader Mail: More CC’s of Letters to Mayor Newsom, Board of Supervisors…

UPDATE: MUNI is inventing new ways to blow it – now the N line is experiencing it’s own, separate-from-this-morning’s-blowout problems and apparently we can expect significant delays today.
UPDATE 2: According to the Chron the N was allegedly back up and running at 2pm. Please post your experiences in the comments this afternoon!
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled posting:
This morning’s kerfuffle of power lines made for some delayed commutes. However, it is also clear that there has been a new wave of N Judah Follies befalling our fellow citizens on the way to work. I noticed over the weekend, where we had huge crowds of people taking the N to Golden Gate Park, and such, that MUNI decided it was a good idea to one one car trains.
On one of the busiest weekends at Golden Gate Park.
After they tell everyone to “take transit” to make life easier.
(To be fair, those folks I know who drove to the big festival in the park said that parking was horrid, but still, that is kind of like saying “Oh I only got burned a little by the oncoming lava flow” or something)
Onward. Reader Karen sent a letter to Mayor Newsom, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and CC’d a copy to the site with her tale of horror:

Mr. Mayor and Mr. Elsbernd,
My intent is not to bore you with the details of my commute, but to illustrate MUNI’s failure to serve San Francisco.
I had a 9:00AM meeting this morning, so I left the house at **7:45**. I walk down to Judah and 15th, and there are at least three dozen people waiting for the train–normally there are ten.
A train finally arrives at 8:15, and it is so packed that it doesn’t even stop. I tap out an email on my Blackberry to colleagues to let them know I might be late.
Another train finally arrives at 8:35, and even though it’s packed, I have no choice but to get on the train.
(By this time, more than a dozen EMPTY trains have been traveling westbound, the opposite direction.)
At 8:55, I send another email to colleagues that I am going to miss the meeting–because the train is stuck at Duboce Park while the conductor tries to get the stairs to go down. No word from the conductor.
At 9:15, the train has been at the Civic Center for 5 minutes, waiting to pull away from the station. No word from the conductor.
At **9:25**, I am finally at the Embarcadero station. I’ve missed my meeting.
Yes, there were downed power lines in the tunnel. But this experience was clearly the result of MUNI employees not showing up for their routes.
It would be great if this were an isolated incident, but there is a reason I give myself 75 minutes to get downtown everyday.
In the past two months I’ve been working in Chicago and Boston. None of my colleagues in those offices complain about train service, nor are they routinely late for meetings because of mass transit.
The MUNI problem is not an easy one to fix. But have you experienced what San Francisco residents face on a regular basis? MUNI administrators can high-five themselves over 72% on-time performance all they want. But when you’re waiting for the 28% of trains that don’t show up, a mild-mannered cubicle dweller like myself feels compelled to write to the Mayor and her Supervisor.

Yikes! Now, the sad part is that of late, this has been getting worse, just as they announce the “on time rates” but worse, on the eve of an election where MUNI is asking folks to give them more money and promise to fix problems.
I think it is also high time that union folks, who keep telling us we need to pay public employees more and more salary and pensions, what they propose to do to fix problems like these since they’ve already pocket vetoed any real reform of the hiring rules.
Union labor is supposed to mean professional, quality work, guys – if you’re going to tinker with Measure A to protect your big bucks, you better show us you can also provide workable solutions to this whole “not showing to work” thing. Otherwise, get out of our way!
The brave people from the Fix MUNI Yes on A campaign were out in force on Saturday along the N, and I say they are brave only because I am sure they had to listen to a lot of what regular citizens have to say. Which is good – but I just hope it translates into some action, too.
Reader Alex, in response to last week’s discussion of problems on the N provides this insight into how to express one’s frustrations to 311.

Oy. When the train turns around early: CALL 311. I’m looking at a small stack of PSRs that I’ve called in. Despite what I had hoped were fairly clear complaints to the 311 operators the reports have gotten filed in three different categories: 177 – Running wrong destination sign, 114 – Switchback, or 106 – Insufficient service schedule.
The one marked as “114 – Switchback” is also marked “actionable”. The others are not. Make sure you indicate that the complaint is indeed an issue of insufficient service (or unnecessary switchback).
They’re doing the same damn things on the L, turning the trains around, usually without any warning. Thus it is nearly impossible to get beyond 22nd Ave. Perhaps it’s naive to think that feedback will change
anything, but it’s a start.

Reader Alex makes a good point. Perhaps the complaints alone may not do enough, but if there’s enough of them on record and some enterprising local reporter (what few we have left) decides to go investigate, they’ll find a treasure trove of complaints that someone can be cornered on during a TV broadcast or in an investigative piece in print later on. Immediate remedies are few, it seems, but at least it is worth a shot.

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2 Responses to Reader Mail: More CC’s of Letters to Mayor Newsom, Board of Supervisors…

  1. @makfan says:

    Oh boy, this is bad. Glad I am out of town.
    Bad in New York means that the train is crowded and you have to wait 3 or 4 minutes for the next one. Bad in SF means 75 minutes is not enough time to go 4 miles.
    I would like to know what the heck sort of improvements we are getting for our two years of early night closures? Wires down all over the place is not what I would call an improvement.

  2. Steve Vaccaro says:

    RE: Everybody take transit to GG Park for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Muni had the same mind set over Labor Day weekend when the Bay Bridge was closed and the Summer of Love concert was held at Speedway Meadow. 30 minutes between trains and not much better on the 28 or 71 lines.

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