Hooray! We're Number.....6? ORLY?
Earlier today I spoke with Mike Sugerman of KPIX News for a report this evening about a recent "list" posted by US News and World Report that ranked various transit agencies and apparently San Francsico came in 6th. Apparently this is a reason to celebrate! USA USA! We're Number Six!
As I indicated to Mr. Sugerman, however, if you do any ranking of major agencies, Muni and SF will always rank in the top 10-ish no matter what, simply because of the sheer number of people who ride it every day. The US News rankings, however were a bit odd - Portland ranked higher than SF, but serves fewer people in a far less dense area, for example. They also compared the speed of BART to DC Metro - but that doesn't account for the fact that BART has so many far-flung suburban stations with low ridership - whereas DC Metro, despite IT'S problems, does a better job of serving the Greater DC area than BART does in some regards. And, if you compare things like "operating cost per mile," well, Muni ranks VERY high in that regard.
I think it's more important to rank Muni in terms of how it's actually serving the owner/riders of San Francisco, which by any measure, has been a mish-mash of stitched together budget games, and has chosen to ignore the $3 million Transit Effectiveness Project (except when to justify cuts). The TEP provided a blueprint to build a system - it was up to the SF MTA Board and the politicians at city hall to find a way to pay for it. But when you have an MTA Chair like Tom Nolan who says "family trumps a transit first policy" (if by family you mean a handful of wealthy people whose nannies can't use Muni because it's not working right), you can't really expect the bumbling politicians to do any better.