While the NX-Judah Express has become a permanent fixture for Muni, the agency is hesitant about adding more complementary bus lines to its transit system.
Since June, NX buses have shuttled crowds of commuters between the Outer Sunset and the Financial District. The agency has hailed the express bus line as a success, claiming it helps speed up the N-Judah, opens up more seats for commuters and prevents pass-ups — where passengers are left stranded because there is no more room left on the train.
Originally touted as just a pilot program, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors approved a measure on Tuesday to make the line permanent.
The agency has said in the past that it could consider expanding its supplemental bus service to more light-rail lines — the T-Third and the L-Taraval have been specifically cited — but for now those plans are on hold, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.
“While there are no immediate plans for additional express lines, we will continue to work with the board to develop creative ways to improve service,” Rose said.
Combined, Muni’s six light-rail lines log more than 150,000 daily boardings, accounting for more than 20 percent of the agency’s total ridership. Tom Nolan, the SFMTA’s board chairman, said supplemental bus service could be a good approach to ease the burden on those busy lines.
“I think this is a very creative way to help with our on-time performance,” said Nolan.
However, Nolan said he would defer to the agency’s staff on whether the supplemental bus service is the best step forward, noting that the expansion would not be cheap — the NX will cost $1.8 million annually.
Some question whether supplemental buses are truly an effective tool for speeding up service. While the SFMTA has touted the efficacy of the NX — it has received 150 positive comments from passengers, compared to just 10 negative — some regular commuters are still wondering how much it’s helping.
“I think the express buses are good in a way because it is now less crowded on the N,” said Andrea Freedman, an Inner Sunset commuter. “But the train can still be incredibly unreliable. If I have an 8 a.m. meeting downtown, I’m going to drive, because I just can’t trust Muni yet.”
45,252 Weekday boardings on the N-Judah
7,000 Weekday boardings on the NX-Judah Express
$1.8 million Annual cost of running NX service
35 minutes Average completion time of NX route