SF's only Independent 
Transportation Think Tank

Transportation professionals, neighborhood activists and Muni riders working to find common sense solutions to city transportation issues

What is SaveMuni?  People often ask us about SaveMuni and what it does. SaveMuni was established in early 2010 as an all volunteer, non-profit organization in order to help find ways of improving Muni.  For the first three and one half years of its existence, the group devoted itself primarily to pointing out the fatal flaws in the Central Subway project and to trying to head off a gargantuan waste of local, State and federal funds. (For more about the Central Subway click here.)

Since mid-2013, SaveMuni has turned its attention to San Francisco's existing public transit systems...especially Muni...and how to make them better.   This has produced many ideas geared to bringing Muni up to its full potential in terms of operations, maintenance and financial viability. (See below).  It is our desire to work closely with like-minded civic, business, labor, environmental, neighborhood and governmental organizations to achieve this objective.  Early in 2014, SaveMuni joined with others opposed the SF Proposition A. (See opposite column). Read more about SaveMuni here


19 Positive Steps 
to a better Muni
              (updated December 15, 2014)             

Unlike an outlying suburban area, San Francisco is a densely built-up city requiring a highly efficient public transit system. When Muni falters, the lives of its 700,000 daily riders and 60,000 reliant small businesses are immediately impacted.  Because of its fiscal and operational problems, Muni is currently unable to provide consistently reliable service on its 75 existing bus and rail lines. Until this changes, beleaguered Muni riders will continue to experience slow downs, gaps in service, breakdowns and frequent over-crowding. 

Needless to add, there is a need for some basic changes in the current SFMTA operation. Included are street running conditions, maintenance improvements, working rule changes and capital priority adjustments. 

Along with virtually every Muni rider, we look forward to the day when Muni is consistently providing optimal service to its patrons and would-be patrons. Here are 18 ways of getting to that point. Read more here.

Extending Caltrain, Critically Important to San Francisco, the Peninsula and the Region
(Updated September  28,  2014)
Four traffic lanes enter SF from the North, five from the East and 18 from the South.  Unsurprising, MTC shows 280,000 cars a day as entering SF from the South, almost 50% more than from the two bridges combined.

In order for Muni to operate effectively, the streets of San Francisco must be cleared of some traffic.  One effective way of doing this would be to give northbound Peninsula drivers a faster and more comfortable way of getting here.

This need makes extending Caltrain into downtown San Francisco the City's No. 1 transportation priority.  Squeezing out cars, buses and emergency vehicles by building obstructions into city streets is a short-sighted and ultimately ineffective way of cutting traffic. Giving people better options should be the first choice. And getting Caltrain downtown should be the first choice of both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.  

When Caltrain is extended into the heart of the Financial District, adjacent to 10,000 units of new transit-oriented housing and linked conveniently to the Market Street subways, San Francisco's new Transbay Transit Center will become one of the most important transportation hubs in North America.  As such, it will be a boon to San Francisco, the Peninsula and the Region.  In 1999 the people of San Francisco overwhelmingly voted to extend Caltrain into downtown San Francisco.  There are hopeful recent signs that San Francisco Officialdom has now picked up the thread. 
A Mello Roos District is being set up to require property owners whose real estate values have soared as a result of the publicly-financed new infrastructure to pay back a portion of their gains to help get Caltrain extended.  Despite a spate of back-room pressure emanating from a gaggle of lobbyists and attorneys working on behalf of two huge property owners, City officials, led by Mayor Lee, have refused to reduce the Mello Roos tax rate below the appropriate level.  As is probably obvious, the municipal objectives should be:

        a.)  to establish the Mello Roos District without further delay, 

        b.)  to require benefiting property owners to pay their fair share of the Mello Roos taxes being collected to help complete the project and     
        c.)  to avoid other actions designed to delay or impede DTX.

If you haven't already done so, please let your Supervisors and Mayor know the importance of this issue.  This is one all San Franciscans can get behind.    

Westbay Transportation Conflicts 
Fester for over a Decade
(updated May 31,2014)   

As indicated above, the people of San Francisco recognized the importance of extending an upgraded Caltrain into downtown San Francisco way back in 1999, when they voted overwhelmingly in favor of the extension.  Yet in the ensuing years a unaccountable lack of municipal and regional  leadership has resulted in a chaotic and largely ineffectual interplay among the affected transportation agencies along the San Francisco/Caltrain Corridor.  
Read more here.

SF Proposition A 
(updated December 15,  2014)

Heavily influenced by a massive pro-Prop A spending campaign, the San Francisco voters approved Prop A on November 4, 2014. Prop A authorizes San Francisco's government to sell $500 million in transportation General Obligation bonds. 

Including interest on the bonds, Prop A will cost the tax payers of San Francisco over a billion dollars. 

According to the Mayor's Transportation Task Force Report and the colorful flyers and brochures distributed to help sell Prop A, much of the proceeds will go to street enhancement and new bicycle facilities.  Unfortunately virtually none of this $500 million in new funding will be used to address San Francisco's most pressing transportation problems; namely 

    o  positioning Muni to keep up with San Francisco's oncoming population and employment growth,

    o  getting buses and LRV's jammed with riders out of traffic congestion,

    o  easing the peak period crush in the Market Street subway,

    o  extending Caltrain into downtown San Francisco, therefore giving 280,000 daily Peninsula motorists a classier and less troublesome way of getting into the city,     

    o  putting the SFMTA's financial house in order 

Given the vague language of Prop A, SFMTA still has a choice.  It can continue to follow the lead of the Mayor's inexperienced Task Force of 2012/13.  Or it can address San Francisco's most pressing transportation problems, thereby establishing itself as a champion of real improvement.  

A Critique of SFMTA's TEP 
 (Updated November 8, 2014)

According to the colored flyers and brochures hyping Prop A, most of the money that does go to Muni will be used to implement the SFMTA's Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP). While TEP is clearly the result of significant investigation and hard work, it unfortunately fails to address many of San Francisco's most critical transportation problems.  For a summary of our findings read more here.              

Mayor's TTF Misses Mark 
(Updated October 29, 2014)

Given Prop A's vague and noncomital language, about the only clue we have as to how $500 million might get spent is embodied in the Mayor's Transportation Task Force (TTF) report released in late 2013. The TTF was comprised of 46 individuals, 17 of whom were answerable to the Mayor and another 10 or more of whom represented downtown interests. Allegedly this group was going to develop a long range transportation plan for San Francisco, but things didn't turn out that way.   Instead the group, only a tiny handful of whom had any discernible experience in either transportation or the problems of Muni, worked hard at spreading nice-sounding things around so as to pick up as many votes as possible. Lost in the shuffle was the attention that should have been paid to San Francisco's most critical oncoming transportation problems and what to do about them.  Read more here. 

BART's Oncoming 
Transbay Capacity Crunch
(updated October 29, 2014)

BART's ridership is projected to rise from its current level of over 400,000 riders a day to 700,000 riders a day or more by 2040. This increase will severely overtax BART's transbay section, which is already overcrowded during certain hours of the day.

To delay the inevitable, BART plans to remove a substantial number of seats in order to make room for more standees and bicycles.   Despite these measures BART is projected to run out of transbay-carrying capacity by about 2030, at which time the lack of adequate passenger rail service between Oakland and San Francisco will begin to constrain the economies of the Central Bay area.  So far Alameda County, San Francisco County and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (in charge of regional planning) have chosen to put off dealing with this oncoming crunch.  Read more here.

2013:  Central Subway Silk Purse (promised)

Remember when we were being told that the tunneled Central Subway would be "out- of sight, out-of-mind"?  

That was last year. 

Fast forward to this year.                                                                     

2014: Central Subway Sou's Ear (actual) 

Here's what the SF Chronicle had to say on the subject on September 29, 2014:

"It may have been the most fashionable meeting ever held at City Hall — as representatives of Neiman Marcus, Chanel, Barneys New York, Dior, Bulgari and  Arthur Beren Shoes met Wednesday with Mayor Ed Lee to tell him that the Central Subway construction was killing some of Union Square’s best-known high-end stores.

"At issue is the ongoing tearup of Stockton Street to make way for the Union Square Station and the loss of parking, deafening noise and dust from the heavy machinery that go along with it. Combine those with narrow and often unlighted walkways in front of the stores, and customers are staying away in droves.

"Lee promised a personal look at the situation, but overall the news was not encouraging...."

When asked how much longer Union Square would be torn up by the Central Subway project, the SFMTA representative ruefully acknowledged that it would affect "two winter seasons in addition to this one coming up.” 

                            Central Subway is 
SF's Gravina Island Bridge 
(updated December 11, 2014)

Beginning in 2008, the SFMTA begain publicly promoting the idea of building a 1.1 mile subway from Byrant Street to the southern part of Chinatown.  In its campaign, the SFMTA systematcially used exaggeration, selective use of data and distortion of the facts to make the new subway seem as attractive as possible to an unwitting public.   This selling campaign persisted actively for over 5 years until the Fall of 2013 after construction was well underway.  The SFMTA spokespeople were particularly brazen and irresponsible in their characterizations of capital and operating costs (grossly understated), ridership projections (more than double what the EIR/EIS stated), trip times (bore no relation to the facts) and "minimal construction impact "(patently false).  

To learn more about the Central Subway, click here.