Lately, Muni has been in the news more then Ike’s imminent (or not) closing or the latest depressing unemployment stats. This weekend’s public transportation events included multiple passenger injuries, one pedestrian’s death, union lawyers, and the upcoming end of the Ambassador program.
As we reported back in July, Muni launched an Ambassador pilot program this summer to ameliorate rider’s safety concerns and rising tensions in the southeast quadrant of SF. So far, the pilot program has found most of Muni’s violent incidents are fights among middle school students after school.
With increased volunteer involvement and vigilance, the Community Ambassadors Program saw a 38% decrease in reported incidents of crime since the programs inception. However, those decreases might be only temporary: the program will end in September unless half a million dollars are secured for the pilot’s expansion to other Muni lines.
Budget cuts and financial woes continue to be a topic of dissension for our city’s maligned transportation agency. Muni drivers who recently refused to forgo pay raises despite city budgetary demands are now about to be forced to pay an $80-a-month charge to park their cars at works sites. Ironically, the fee will comprise of approximately a third of the drivers’ annual raise and will raise $3.5 million a year for the deficit riddled agency. Apparently, the operator’s union is already talking to lawyers about fighting the fees.
In more recent news, this weekend saw several serious Muni bus incidents. On Saturday, two Muni buses collided in Chinatown, leaving several injured passengers. The problem reportedly started when the driver left the vehicle to inspect a faulty wheelchair lift. The bus then rolled backwards 100 feet down a hill and crashed into a second bus.
We also reported that a police investigation has tentatively determined that the pedestrian fatally struck by a Muni bus Saturday night was a suicide. This tragedy marks the third Muni-related fatality this year, though, in this case, SFPD has asserted that the bus driver was not at fault.