Muni hearing set to focus on funding, costly breakdowns 

  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner

Muni service meltdowns — like the one that struck N-Judah passengers Thursday — cost The City roughly $50 million annually in lost production, according to a new report that will be presented at a special hearing today.

That figure comes from City Economist Ted Egan and only details worker hours lost as a result of disruptions and service delays. It does not factor in service inefficiencies brought on by Muni’s aging infrastructure and maintenance problems.

Supervisor Scott Wiener is convening the special hearing to highlight the many problems facing the transit agency and how investment in the system is needed to avert the costly breakdowns.

“We are glad for the opportunity to shine more light on our service, which will better equip us to identify our service and funding needs and inform a robust public discussion about transportation funding in San Francisco,” said Muni Transportation Director Ed Reiskin.

He noted Muni is facing a $70 million structural operating deficit and has a $2.2 billion backlog for deferred maintenance programs. However, the agency has been consistently underfunded by City Hall, he said.

“The goal of this hearing is to make sure that members of the public understand the actual scope of problems facing the agency,” Wiener said. “We want to change the conversation from ‘Muni doesn’t work right’ to ‘why isn’t Muni working?’”

During the hearing — scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee — Muni officials will give figures on operating and maintenance budgets and present the first of what will be quarterly performance reports.

“Don’t get me wrong, Muni needs internal reforms to make their operations more efficient,” Wiener said. “But the agency has also been severely underfunded for the last 30 years.”

On Thursday, one of Muni’s N-Judah trains ripped down overhead wires on Carl and Cole streets, significantly affecting service for the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use the agency’s Metro light-rail service. The service problem lasted from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and followed a similar incident on the N-Judah on Wednesday.

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Will Reisman

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