(Scroll down for updates) Appeal reporter Chris Roberts, working hard at today’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting, just IMed in a kind of disconcerting report: Every time someone calls the 311 Customer Service Center about Muni, Muni is billed $1.96.

As Chris already told you, today’s the day Supervisor Dufty and Friends follow up on their demand for accounting of Muni funds. As they were going through the budget, Dufty called out the notation that every Municentric call to 311 costs Muni $1.96. “he goes to Tom Nolan, (MTA board vice-chair), is that right, $1.96? and Nolan says, ‘yes’”

311 has been hailed as a success even as it’s lampooned by others as a “pet project” of the Mayor’s. With costs like this coming to light, one is compelled to wonder if the pet in question is one of those puppies that seems really cute and great until it grows up and starts taking huge dumps on the rug.

UPDATE: Get this: that $1.96 per adds up to a total bill to MTA from 311 calls of $6.2 million. 80 percent of 311 calls people asking when the next bus is expected, which means the 311 operators check nextmuni for you. From Chris: “According to the MTA, if people used 511 or used nextmuni.com on their computers they would save $4.5 million.” Chris also notes that there are 90 full time call-takers at 311 and they added 25 this year. We’d like to revise our metaphor about the pet in “Mayor’s pet project” from incontinent dog to dog that attacks little kids and eats their faces.

UPDATE: Chris was able to get his hands on two documents that you’re going to love. The first is a proposal from Muni to have people calling 311 for Muni information be directed, via menu, to call 511 instead.

We also have a pdf or the work orders used in today’s meeting, which includes:

whatsindoc1.png

Chris also notes that “Not once did the SFPD answer the question, “Why aren’t there cops on the buses?” They hemmed and hawed and said, uh, we’ll look into it and that was that. “

We’ll save the major analysis for Chris’s report coming later today — but one, obvious question is this: if 311 is intended to be the one stop shop for City services, isn’t having a menu telling people to call elsewhere counter to that?

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Greg Dewar

    Ya know, Mayor Newsom could have at least bought MUNI dinner before doing this and all the other things he’s done to it so far…I mean…c’mon…

  • Greg Dewar

    Ya know, Mayor Newsom could have at least bought MUNI dinner before doing this and all the other things he’s done to it so far…I mean…c’mon…

  • Muni Diaries

    i just can’t muster a comment, other than something obvious about how that costs more than a flippin’ ride … for now.

  • Muni Diaries

    i just can’t muster a comment, other than something obvious about how that costs more than a flippin’ ride … for now.

  • Akit

    It’s time for Muni to open-up their own call center again. They were fast, quick, and no more being on hold B.S.

  • Akit

    It’s time for Muni to open-up their own call center again. They were fast, quick, and no more being on hold B.S.

  • Matt Baume

    Just unbelievable. Now I wonder how much 511 is going to start billing Muni.

    As a sidenote, I’d like to point out that 511 really is a great source for arrival data. No hold times, and they use the Nextbus data so it’s usually quite accurate.

  • Matt Baume

    Just unbelievable. Now I wonder how much 511 is going to start billing Muni.

    As a sidenote, I’d like to point out that 511 really is a great source for arrival data. No hold times, and they use the Nextbus data so it’s usually quite accurate.

  • Eve Batey

    Matty, has their trip planner improved? It used to be pretty innacurate, but I haven’t used it in quite some time.

  • Eve Batey

    Matty, has their trip planner improved? It used to be pretty innacurate, but I haven’t used it in quite some time.

  • Muni Diaries

    I volunteer to stand at NextBus-less busstops with my iphone doling on predictions. All I’m asking for is a little more than I make now, i.e., salaly negotiable.

  • Muni Diaries

    I volunteer to stand at NextBus-less busstops with my iphone doling on predictions. All I’m asking for is a little more than I make now, i.e., salaly negotiable.

  • Hal

    Great story – and nowhere on the Chron, at least the last time I checked. Viva Appeal!

  • Hal

    Great story – and nowhere on the Chron, at least the last time I checked. Viva Appeal!

  • Akit

    Even my cell phone with a very basic web browser is helpful in finding nextbus information. Bookmarking my usual routes and making shortcuts on my phone makes it easy.

  • Akit

    Even my cell phone with a very basic web browser is helpful in finding nextbus information. Bookmarking my usual routes and making shortcuts on my phone makes it easy.

  • Matt Baume

    Yes, 511′s made a bunch of improvements. They actually use the NextBus data now, rather than Muni’s 30%-missing schedules.

    Here and There makes an excellent point. I have, at times, used my iPhone to share arrival predictions with other riders at bus stops. To whom at Muni shall I send my bill?

  • Matt Baume

    Yes, 511′s made a bunch of improvements. They actually use the NextBus data now, rather than Muni’s 30%-missing schedules.

    Here and There makes an excellent point. I have, at times, used my iPhone to share arrival predictions with other riders at bus stops. To whom at Muni shall I send my bill?

  • kap$hure

    actually another good NextBus tool is just using SMS to connect to the NextBus data.. its way faster than any page you can pull up on your mobile device.

    peep it:

    http://www.nextbus.com/wirelessConfig/sms.jsp

    I would say NextBus info is probably right 8 out of 10 times

    has anyone used the integrated “public transit” part of google map’s directions portal?

  • kap$hure

    actually another good NextBus tool is just using SMS to connect to the NextBus data.. its way faster than any page you can pull up on your mobile device.

    peep it:

    http://www.nextbus.com/wirelessConfig/sms.jsp

    I would say NextBus info is probably right 8 out of 10 times

    has anyone used the integrated “public transit” part of google map’s directions portal?