SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ committee took  Muni officials to task Monday for forcing riders off streetcars before they reach their destinations.

The transit agency maintains it uses so-called “switchbacks” simply to keep the LRVs on schedule.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

Monday’s hearing was in response to complaints from Muni riders about abrupt, unscheduled halts in light rail service in San Francisco’s Sunset District.

“It’s not where you want to be hanging around on a cold, foggy night,” argued one frustrated rider. “Or as far as that goes, anytime, waiting for a train that may not come.”

“When you’re put off the train in the middle of the night and there’s no train, it’s really a problem,” another man addressed the committee.

“I’ve been kicked off at 10:30 p.m. eleven blocks from my home,” a woman added.

“We feel that we enter into a contract when the front of the train says Ocean Beach, we expect that it’s going to go to Ocean Beach,” reasoned another woman.

Muni operations chief John Haley explained that switchbacks were used to keep the streetcars on schedule, and rarely happened. Haley maintained switchbacks impact very few riders.

“For the residents who need to get home, that’s simply not an acceptable answer,” countered supervisor Carmen Chu, who called the hearing.

“It’s a problem in terms of reliability and also in terms of the public’s trust about our transportation system,” Chu added.

According to Muni, without the switchbacks, service would be more unpredictable and delays would be longer. Riders suggested that operators should advise them when they board that the streetcar isn’t going all the way to its stated destination.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. fred thompson says:

    Fire EVERY worker from Mr Ford on down and start all over.
    MUNI is a SERVICE. It should provide SERVICE.
    All Muni is concerned with is their union contracts, their days off and their 2nd highest salaries.
    Privatize and start over.
    SF is 49 square miles. It cant be THAT hard to provide decent public transportation

  2. trip to nowhere says:

    If MUNI doesn’t get you to the destination it has agreed to per the designation on the vehicle, does it even matter if it’s “on schedule”?

    Just remember folks: Transit First!!

  3. jm says:

    John Haley’s forgotten who the customer is. “Switchbacks” are his convoluted way of reporting a 100% on-time track record.

    Muni drivers have been lucky to have jobs driving buses and trains. What else would they do? They’ve grown to be fat and lazy. I agree with Mr. Thompson. Fire them all and privatize Muni. Look at how smoothly and reliably privatized transit systems are run.

  4. Lucky me, I ride BART says:

    As an agency, MUNI seems confused about their mission. Is it MUNI’s job to get passengers to their destination, or is it MUNI’s job to stay on schedulle? Leadership, from Nathaniel Ford on down the line, is apparently non-existent in MUNI. With nearly 50% of operaters “unavailable” on any given day, and union leadership proclaiming that situation “normal”,it’s amazing that anyone gets anywhere. This system is broken.

  5. Rich says:

    What about the safety risk??? What if they drop some teenager off short of their stop and something happens to them. Who’s going to take accountability for it if they get robbed or worse while they are sitting at a dark bus stop or walking the last 10 blocks home? I can tell you one thing, the city will get sued and their little gambit of dropping people off early to meet the schedule will cost the city millions.

  6. Happy rider says:

    Everyone has an agenda. The riders want to get to his/her destination. The driver wants to maintain a “schedule” or will be in trouble from management. Management wants to report 100% on time service regardless of what that means. They have to impress the politicians. The public can pay whatever is demanded and have to endure the service or lack thereof. Black drivers allow black patrons on without paying. Black drivers kick off seniors who do not show proper identification. Many drivers do not care about their passengers. Ride the Muni and enjoy!

  7. Lars says:

    BART also uses “Switchbacks” in San Francisco when trains are delayed. I was recently on a train to SFO from the East Bay and BART made everyone get off in downtown San Francisco and the train headed back towards Walnut Creek. BART uses Switchbacks during bad weather when trains are delayed and when they have track malfunctions.

  8. tomfitzg says:

    MUNI is horrible. It should be turned over to a private sector company.

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