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SF transit flunking out on scorecards

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Mayor’s designated standard for SFMTA performance looks grim

A train leaving the tunnel at West Portal Station.
Twin Peaks tunnel closures are just the start of SFMTA woes.
Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock

On Monday, Mayor London Breed prodded the SFMTA and its director Ed Reiskin with a letter demanding “improvements across the board” at the troubled transit agency, noting that she would measure success via the city’s own scorecards system in the coming months.

Well, the good news for Reiskin and company is that it’d be tricky for those figures to get any more unflattering than they are right now.

Of the ten criteria with set targets on the Transportation Scorecard site, only two are hitting their goals, with particularly poor performances showing in those categories having to do with keeping Muni running on time.

Here’s a look at the scores as they’re set now:

  • Muni on time performance: The city wants Muni to hit its schedule 85 percent of the time, which in this case means being no more than four minutes late and no more than one minute early. Suffice to say, this is such an ambitious goal relative to the status quo as to appear almost naive; as of June 30 the most recent figure is 56.1 percent, and the best thing anyone can say about that is that it’s not really much worse than usual.
  • Transit bunching/gaps: The city wants Muni to perform with a less than 1.8 percent rate for bunching—i.e., buses and trains following one after another in short order—and less than 8.8 percent for long gaps between arrivals. Other than the on-time figures, this is easily SFMTA’s worst performing metric, as 23.5 percent of trips suffered one of these issues in June, and of course it doesn’t help that all of these problems—lateness, bunching, and gaps—exacerbate the others.
A Muni train pulling away from a street platform. Public Domain Photo
  • Scheduled hours delivered: At first glance this one looks like it’s actually doing okay. True, the present figure of 97.5 is below the 98.5 target mandated by the city charter, but at least it’s close. However, since the present figures only go through June 30, that means that the effects of the Twin Peaks summer meltdown are not actually reflected here yet, meaning this figure is primed to plummet with the next update.
  • Muni collisions: Other than bunching and blown schedules, Muni’s single worst performance metric is in traffic collisions. The goal is 3.67 collisions per 100,000 miles driven; the most recent July 2018 figure is 5.07. Well, at least that’s down year over year.

The only areas in which city transit exceeds expectations are the number of reported crimes per 100,000 miles and the percentage share of non-private auto commuters.

On the slight brighter side, many of the reported figures do at least represent improvements, with ridership and on-time arrivals on a recent uptick. Although in a certain sense that fact also makes the results all the more grim.