Muni may cut down on stops 

Under a plan that would save the agency about $3 million a year, Muni is considering consolidating some of its stops, a move that has been lauded by transit advocates but disparaged by senior citizen and disabled groups.

The Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, came outwith a report last year that showed 14 percent of its bus and rail stops were positioned too closely together, a setup that slows down transit service, adversely affects reliability and generally creates a more inefficient system. One bus line, the 9-San Bruno line had70 stops that were too close together.

Faced with a $56.4 million budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, the agency is proposing eliminating a portion of its stops, which would lead to $3 million in savings annually. The agency hasn’t released full details of the proposal, but a presentation on the plan is expected to come in the following weeks.

Dave Snyder, a local transit advocate, said eliminating bus stops is a crucial element for improved Muni service, because it would lead to increased speeds on the vehicles.

“Speeding up service would allow Muni to put more buses out at the same amount of time,” said Snyder. “Not only would it be faster, but more people would use the system.”

Manish Champsee, president of Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy organization, said removing bus stops would actually be beneficial to walkers.

“Taking out stops means Muni runs faster, which means more people take Muni, which means less cars, which means less potential for pedestrian fatalities,” Champsee said.

The plan does have its critics. Pi Ra, spokesman for the Senior Action Network, said the proposal to consolidate bus stops must
factor in criteria such as accessibility issues for the disabled and seniors. Ra said the MTA has not adequately addressed that issue.

“Most of the people that make these proposals are fully mobile, and they don’t understand accessibility issues,” Ra said. “We do think that there are too many bus stops out there, but when talking about eliminating them you have to consider the mobility of the frail public.”

While Champsee and Snyder support the plan, they concur with Ra that senior citizens and the disabled must be considered under any proposal.

“As we have in the past, the SFMTA will continue to work closely with any affected communities on this issue,” said agency spokeswoman Kristen Holland. “Bus stop spacing is one tool we are reviewing to optimize Muni service.”

To help make up its shortfall for the upcoming year, the MTA has proposed a series of cost-saving and revenue-generating measures, including increasing fares annually based on inflation and adding 1,000 new parking meters to city streets. The agency must submit a balanced budget proposal by May 1.

Muni stops

4,000: Number of bus and rail stops in San Francisco
800-1000: Feet apart that bus stops should be spaced
14: Percent of stops that exceed those guidelines
20: Percent of travel time the 15 busiest lines in San Francisco spend unloading and loading passengers

Source: SFMTA

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