If you haven’t already seen the latest statistics gathered by MUNI it’s worth checking out. There’s some interesting information in there, but there’s also a lot of work produced by the No Duh Institute on the Obvious as well.
For example, we find that our N-Judah is #1 amongst streetcars for keeping to the schedule 75.8% of the time. Yay! Then you remember, voters passed a measure (oh how we love our ballot measures) demanding that by now, MUNI would be on time on 85% of bus lines by….2004.
Ok, so we’re number 1, but we’re also not quite number 1. I get it.
As stated earlier, while it’s fascinating to find out some bits of info, such as the fact that the 90-Laguna Honda is the shortest bus route (at only .06 miles!) and that the 105 Treasure Island (yes, there is a bus that goes all the way out there) had the best on time performance, there was a lot of info that comes from the No Duh Institute.
Take, for example, the pilot program tested on the 1-California line, after Our Mayor was left stranded watching 4 buses go by while he waited to go to work. Many things were tried to get the line working more smoothly and efficiently, including towing people who were parked where they shouldn’t, making sure drivers were there to drive the buses, and so on. But in every report you read, there’s this “gasp!” of “Oh my goodness, it cost money.”
To which I simply say, “No Duh.”
Seriously. If after all the research is done it takes X amount of effort costing Y amount of money to make the buses run on time then that is what it actually costs. You can’t expect to do all the things needed to make a bus run on time in a congested small dense city and expect it can be done for free. That’s the effect of years of nickel-and-diming the budget without any regard for what really needs to happen to pay for it.
There’s more of this kind of nonsensical thinking in the coverage of MUNI’s latest budget. Again, it’s trumpeted by the folks at MUNI they “balanced the budget” and we’re supposed to be happy there’s no fare increases or service cuts. Fine. Another look at how they’re doing it shows once again MUNI is relying on very shaky sources of income to plug the gap.
Jacking up towing fees and parking garage costs may help for the short term, but to rely on this as a steady, and increasing stream of revenue is really irresponsible. At best it means that one day a parking ticket will cost you $1000 or something equally ridiculous, but at worst, once again, MUNI will be relying on sources of money that can’t be counted on to produce revenue year after year. Plus I personally am very uncomfortable at relying on the criminal justice system as a tax source to pay for needed transit. It’s nice we see some cash from parking tickets go to pay for MUNI, but to make that a cornerstone, instead of a nice bonus, sets a precedent that might not be what we want as citizens.
I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: figure out what it costs to make a system that works. Then, find ways to pay for it that don’t rely on gimmicks or shady sources of income to do so. Then, defend that budget like hell, which will be easier because you’ll have a satisfied majority of citizens who are getting good service at a price they can afford. Really!
Likewise, a proposal to require contractors building new bus shelters to provide free bikes, Euro-style has an idea that sounds great, but it’s worth making sure that in doing so, we don’t end up with a half-assed vendor who can “provide free bikes” but builds crappy shelters.
Plus, maintaining this fleet and making sure it doesn’t get stolen, like, immediately, needs to be thought out a bit more. I’d rather have decent bus shelters that don’t smell like pee or cookies with a fully implemented NextBus system than free bikes. Let the bike people do that via a non profit or something, so those that know bikes, make sure that it gets done right, I say.