San Franciscans who rely on the oft-overcrowded and tardy Muni light rail trains and buses to get around the city will get a slight reprieve come Saturday when the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) plans to reverse some of the cost-cutting service reductions they implemented in May (a move which surely will make our friends at Muni Diaries especially pleased).
SFMTA slashed services 10 percent back on May 8 in order to help ease their significant budget deficit. Of course, this led to even fewer vehicles operating on a day-to-day basis, which meant more crowded cars, longer wait times and more complaints from already traditionally disgruntled Muni riders.
Since then, the SFMTA’s managed to bundle enough money together to restore nearly two thirds of the services that were axed almost four months ago, and say they are working on plans to fully reinstate these cuts in the near future.
This means the late-night Owl service will be back to running twice an hour instead of just once an hour, community routes will run later into the night and more buses will be added to the typically busiest Muni lines beginning September 3. In a handy-dandy PDF brochure, the SFMTA outlines which routes will specifically be affected by these restorations.
Meanwhile, however, Muni has a new problem to tackle that affects a smaller but equally disgruntled segment of the population: ensuring safety and accessibility for its blind passengers.
The City is currently embroiled in a lawsuit accusing them of failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act due to its lack of barriers for blind Muni-goers. According to a report in the Ex, the SFMTA proposed putting in small plastic posts called “bollards” on underground light rail boarding platforms to prevent blind persons from accidentally stepping onto the tracks.
But in February 2009, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Tomar Mason ruled that these bollards wouldn’t “prevent, deter, or warn” blind passengers, and so the idea was scrapped. But the City has not come up with an alternative solution since then, prompting the lawsuit.
“With this issue, Muni has not been in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” attorney Robert De Vries told the Examiner. “The agency should be coming up with a solution, but they seem to be ignoring it.”
The SFMTA responded by saying that they are working on a proposal that should come out within the next two weeks that, if approved, would be implemented for a four-month trial period.