No news is good news? Not too much going on in the world of the SFMTA and Muni today, but that won’t stop us from recapping the little there is there for you. Today the SFMTA board adds a member, while Muni needs to add people but isn’t.
New SFMTA Board Member’s Confirmation All But Assured
Joel Ramos’s nomination to the SFMTA Board of Directors passed the Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee yesterday morning. The transit activist and community organizer is expected to easily sail to a confirmation by the full board early next week.
While Ramos’s nomination was initially controversial, his transit bona fides apparently proved too strong to pass up.
Ramos has assisted low-income and minority communities organize around transit options with the Oakland-based non-profit TransForm. He’s an avid biker and a daily Muni rider with the battle scars to prove it. During the hearing, he recounted missing an appointment that very morning because he was stuck on the N-Judah for a half-hour.
Ramos was pegged by Mayor Lee to fill the spot opened by the death of director Cameron Beach, who passed away in March.
Trains Need To Learn To Drive Themselves
A year and a half ago, Muni instituted a hiring freeze on new drivers. This appeared sensible at the time, seeing how the agency was out of money and their lotto numbers never seemed to come up.
Recently, the unintended consequences of that freeze are beginning to affect service. The agency is about 70 light rail operators short of where they need to be to effectively run Muni’s fleet of trains at full capacity.
The trained light rail operators on staff are maxing out their overtime and, even if Muni scrapped the hiring freeze tomorrow, they would still be unable to hire drivers from outside the agency. As per the terms of the union’s contract, Muni can’t hire light rail drivers outright. Instead, they are only allowed to pull light rail operators from the existing pool bus drivers.
The result is that the agency has had to replace some train service with slower, more expensive shuttle buses.
Muni hopes to have the driver deficit filled by July. A new class of drivers just graduated from “Muni Academy” last week and a little over a dozen drivers have been pulled out of retirement.
Personally, I’m waiting for Muni Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach. That one’s going to be great.