munipiece2.jpg Today in Muni news, people are getting robbed and beat up on the bus, not just by the drivers!

Muni’s Budget Forecast Improves Slightly
Good news everyone! Muni is starting to deal with its massive budget deficit! SFMTA reports that they’ve been able to cut down this year’s projected shortfall by more than $3 million from their initial January projection of $21.2 million. That leaves them with nearly $18 million of red ink they need to sort out by the time their fiscal year ends in June, but it’s a step in the right direction.

While the those numbers look big, they’re just a tiny sliver of the agency’s annual $775 million budget.

The agency’s two main plans to get back in black, increasing the number of parking tickets they issue and reigning in overtime costs, have yet to yield significant results. Earlier this year, SFMTA floated a plan to redeploy parking officers making them more efficient in giving you a ticket even though you were only double parked for like 30 seconds while you ran up to your apartment to get your cell phone charger. The plan, which came in response to a five year slide in parking enforcement revenue, has met with widespread criticism from people who swear they only left their car there for a minute, come on but me a break here, and has yet to be implemented.

SFMTA is unlikely to get any movement on the overtime issue unless they somehow hire a plethora of new drivers or come out in top in their upcoming contract negotiations with the operators union. Neither are likely happen prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Drivers Behaving Badly
Last Saturday, a Muni driver on the 24-Divisadero line reportedly lost it and started screaming at a family until they got off the bus. After a mother, who had just boarded the bus with her kid, asked the driver to re-open the door for her husband, who was standing outside with a stroller, the driver refused to let him on and demanded the family exit, claiming they were, “holding the bus hostage.” The family quickly got off the bus, leaving the rest of the passengers in stunned silence.

To make the proceedings even more like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the bus immediately broke down at the next stop and all the passengers were unceremoniously kicked off.

The operator, who has only been with the agency for five months, has been placed on non-driving status. “This is unacceptable behavior,” said Muni spokesman Paul Rose. “There is no excuse for something like that.” The driver is undoubtedly facing disciplinary action–possibly termination. Something Rose attests happens more often than you might think.

This is precisely why SFMTA hired a high-powered, well-connected PR firm to handle media outreach during the upcoming negotiations with the operators union. This is the type of thing former Chronicle writer Charles Goodyear and his associates Goodyear Peterson will likely remind the press of whenever Muni operators try to portray themselves as helpless victims.

Which sounds like an easy job! After all, Melissa Griffin reports that the Board of Supes regularly receives complaints like “(d)rivers don’t stop at stops, lower steps, late/ahead of schedule, at $26 per hour [pay]. Ronald Reagan had the guts to stop Unions crime against treasury and citizens.”

Maybe the union might want to get a flack or two of their own.

Why Were You Late To Work This Morning?
Because two passengers got in a fist fight on the 24-Divisadero. Yep, the same line as the previous story. At this point, if you’re thinking of taking the 24, it might be better to just walk. Hey, SFist, maybe the 24’s home to more than just the “Worst-Behaved Operators.”

And Then There’s The On-Bus Robbery

SFPD says that on Monday at 1:15 PM, a 45-year-old woman was “battered” on Muni by three young people, one of whom pressed a knife to her stomach as another snatched her purse.

The thieves fled as the bus stopped at Mission and Geneva The victim was bruised, and lost cash and a medical card.

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  • Greg Dewar

    The great majority of Muni’s operators do a good job under difficult circumstances. They need to overthrow their incompetent leadership. Other unions have done this and everyone wins – the public, the union members ,etc. So long as you have a leadership that is so completely ass-backwards as TWU’s, they will be the punching bag for all the agency’s problems, including the ones that they have no control over.

    I think it’s also high time that the media apply the same uber critical eye on Muni management, especially that of Nathaniel Ford and John Haley. They are paid well and are not doing the job. Time to either step it up or step off.