Big MUNI Safety Hearings Today: Big Deal or “meh, Big Deal?”

In light of the recent dramatic accidents on MUNI, we have not one, but two Supervisors holding “hearings” of some sort this morning at City Hall and the press has been getting all fired up about it.
The question I ask is simply…is this a Big Deal, or is this “meh, big deal?”
Of the two Supervisors, I give Sup. Dufty credit for being more on top of MUNI issues than some of his colleagues. He rides the N-Judah sometimes. Whenever I’ve called Supervisors asking a question, more often than not, it’s been his office that gets back to me first with where to go for information. As chair of the functional SFCTA, he’s been involved with projects that directly affect transit reliability. And recently he’s been out there on the scene of some of the more recent accidents too.
Now, the cynics can get all antsy about the fact he’s running for Mayor, and perhaps is looking to use the MUNI issue to ride into office. But let’s be real – if you’re running for mayor would you really want to stake your future on MUNI reliability, in an era of cuts and work orders? I wouldn’t, but the fact he’s at least willing to stick his neck out, says a lot.
Sup. Elsbernd, however, doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. It’s no secret that he’s been a rubber stamp for the mayor since getting appointed a while back, and he’s never shown any real interest in making MUNI more reliable (hey he has a car and lives in a big house – why should he?) When we had an attempt to reject the MTA’s poorly constructed budget, not only did he vote with the Mayor and the Mayoral-appointed board, he rejected any input from his constituents about sending it back to the MTA for a re-do. He’s never shown any interest up until now – it seems unfortunate it took a horrible accident in his district for him to finally take notice that something’s wrong over at MUNI. Ouch.
I guess it’s nice he’s talking tough on some issues now, but if he, and frankly most of his colleagues, had bothered to pay attention once in a while about the years of work order looting, the cuts to training and maintenance, the use of MUNI safety funds to pay for political aides in Room 200, and so on, maybe we wouldn’t be in as big a mess as we are now.
So while the mainstream press will cover all of this like it’s some Big Deal, I’ll wait and see what happens after the cameras are turned off. If we get some changes that make our day run smoother, great. If not, I won’t be terribly surprised. At this point, I’m just glad if I don’t get stranded at night coming home from work or when I’m out on the weekend for too long.
UPDATE: Reader Jamison has been Twittering the meeting, and noted that Sup. Chris Daly, in his inimitable classy style made jokes about MUNI safety, then attacked Dufty for “not fixing MUNI.” Let’s be clear – the Supervisor from D-6 (or is it Fairfield?) has never been an advocate for MUNI, has not been able to use his alleged experience on the board to fix it, and does not care about you, the owner/rider of MUNI at all. And, while Sup. Dufty is asking some rather intense, detailed questions, Daly left to get some coffee and perhaps make more jokes at the expense of you, the owner/rider of MUNI.
Class-SEE, Daly. Class-SEE.

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4 Responses to Big MUNI Safety Hearings Today: Big Deal or “meh, Big Deal?”

  1. Alex says:

    sfgovtv.org seems to work with Flip4Mac (atrocious audio quality tho). That said, too bad this has turned into a general bitchfest, and not actually focused on safety.

  2. Greg Dewar says:

    @Alex: well the public comment section is always going to be that no matter what…there were some good questions etc. asked by Sup. Dufty, the key will be follow up.
    Remember, back in 2006, MUNI promised fixes to Irving / 9th, and then backtracked. It wasn’t until that poor woman got her legs cut off that the SFCTA finally did something. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but at least it’s more obvious than in the past that people+cars and trains aren’t crossing at the same time.

  3. Alex says:

    @Greg I do remember, but I’ve yet to see any substantial outcome of the recent spate of accidents. I don’t believe that either of the two parties (management and the union) have the stomach for genuine reform.
    Remember when that guy got turned into hamburger out on Judah? What reform did you see then? I still saw door interlocks being overridden on a regular basis.
    Schedules need to be adjusted to be more realistic (look, the infrastructure sucks for the time being, at least admit it). Drivers need to start paying attention (and actually attempting to fulfill their job duties instead of doing the bare minimum or less).
    Until they’re both ready to play ball we get punitive rules resulting in no improvement. Not utilising cutout mode is absurd.. especially when you consider that the drivers have to bring the trains into West Portal (inbound) manually and often double berth without incident.
    Today I got stuck at West Portal for about twenty minutes. Why? The train had problems with the steps and doors. What did the operator do? She fiddles with the steps a bit, pulls the two car train into the station just enough to block the intersection and has some back and forth with the supervisor. After about five minutes of her blocking all inbound and outbound traffic, she pulls it into the station. A few minutes later she explains that she can’t open the doors and to be patient(!). Eventually she takes the train out of service and all the way through the tunnel creating even more inbound delays.
    Alternative: leave the disabled train on Ulloa, and allow all outbound and inbound (ex inbound L) traffic to proceed unhindered.

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