This week saw more chaos for Muni after as a vehicle in the tunnel at West Portal led the city to suspend Tuesday night’s light-rail service and flooding interrupted Wednesday morning’s commute.
But let’s face it, there’s a limit on how much better things will get for Muni even without those intrusions.
Checking in on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency self-reported on-time data, the numbers from October reveal that although transit in SF has been pretty consistent in 2019, that consistency has been uniformly terrible.
Note that in City Hall parlance, being on-time means a vehicle is no more than four minutes late and no more than one minute early. Here are the big takeaways.
- For October, the month with the most recent data, Muni vehicles were on-time for just 54 percent of stops. During the same time last year, they were on-time for 53 percent of stop. And in the 12 months since then, the number never cracked 55.
- As a reminder, the city’s target for on-time vehicles is 85 percent.
- As usual, Muni is much better at running buses than trains. While the combined scores for bus lines come in at a meager 55 percent on-time for October, it plunges to 44 percent for light rail and historic streetcars.
- Incoming SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin critiqued the J-Church line, quipping to Curbed SF that he never takes it because “I like getting to work on time.” He wasn’t kidding. The J was worse than most other SF trains, showing up on-time for 44 percent of stops in October. The worst regular line in the city was the K Ingleside/T Third Street with 34 percent. Worst overall was the E Embarcadero line, with an unbelievably poor 20 percent showing.
- The most reliable light rail in recent months was the N Judah, which was on track 55 percent of the time in October, followed by the L at 51 percent. But the N was also the most volatile line in the city; its rating ranged from as low as 20 percent in May to 57 percent in June.
- Muni riders place your bets: What is the worst bus line in the entire city? In recent weeks, at least, the dishonors go to the 19 Polk, which only managed to show up on-time 44 percent of the time in October. But if we also include special lines, the worst was the 83X Mid-Market Express, with a truly wretched score of 26 percent.
- The best bus line was the 25 Treasure Island, which managed a 71 percent score. It was the only line to rise above 70 percent in October; it has remained above 60 percent every month except for February. Once off the Bay Bridge, the Treasure Island line has the advantage of competing with essentially no traffic, but this may change in years to come as island development continues.
That means even high-performing Muni lines can seem spotty, but given the state of traffic citywide a little wiggle room is necessary in the numbers.