Muni Plan Will Give Bernal Heights the Short Bus

67BernalBusNeighbor Keith is a valiant regular aboard Muni’s 67 Bernal bus line, and he’s rather unthrilled about a service change announced this week:

As a daily rider of the 67 – San Francisco’s friendliest bus route – I’m used to getting up close and personal with my Bernal neighbors. But, at the end of yesterday’s particularly packed small-bus sardine-a-thon to 24th Street BART, our very friendly regular driver happened to mention that Muni has decided to take all large buses off the 67 route for the next three months.

I asked our bus driver about the 67 Short Bus Switch™ again this morning, and she told me that the drivers haven’t been given any reason for the decision (apparently, they are normally told if it’s due to something sensible like the construction on Folsom). So who knows what Muni is thinking in this instance (or, for that matter, ever).

Overcrowding is already an issue most mornings and evenings, and using small buses will only make things worse (unless, of course, Muni is secretly planning to increase bus frequency).

Being squeezed in so tight is obviously unpleasant, but also seems unsafe – those twists and turns can get quite exciting when trying to hang on to a stroller and toddler.

In good neighborly fashion, I’ve submitted a complaint via the online 311 service, but  some noise from Bernal neighbors could help grease the wheels of progress.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics


18 thoughts on “Muni Plan Will Give Bernal Heights the Short Bus

  1. I thought all of the 67 busses were of the shorter / cleaner / newer variety (at least every one I’ve veer been on). Do they run a longer bus at certain times of the day?

      • Our home has a senior and an infant AND a toddler who use this bus. The driver is so friendly and helpful. We’re really going to miss this. Ripley is going to be better off without this bus (loooong story I can share with you over a coffee at Charley’s) but we need this bus. Walking isn’t always an option.

      • The regular commuters (myself a former) have been battling with MUNI for years. Former manager Byrne made it a “must run” route after we petitioned but that didn’t last. I’m just thankful I don’t have to rely on it to get to work any longer.

    • Excuse me? That’s phenomenally rude. I walk with a cane, and would have a very hard time getting around our beautiful city without regular bus service. As would our neighbors who use other mobility aids, neighbors with small children, and anyone with a medical problem that reduces their stamina. You’re very lucky to be able to walk if the bus becomes too inconvenient, but the rest of us are not so fortunate.

      • I read that initial message as being: if you don’t like the _smaller_ bus, try walking. For folks who need it, the smaller bus still exists. Keep in mind that smaller busses use less fuel and fit the narrow roads better. I do agree that the frequency should be increased at peak hours though.

  2. Don’t assume that bureaucrats are automatically stupid. It’s easy to think you know something when you really don’t know. There are usually other factors at work that the public doesn’t know about. Did you folks know about how the Muni is funded?

    The Muni is funded in several ways. There are regular Muni lines such as the 14, 24, 38, etc., which are funded by fares and city money. There are also “Community Service” lines such as the 67, 36 Teresita, 35 Eureka, etc., which are funded with federal money specifically to serve the frail and elderly. These lines are short runs used to serve specific neighborhoods.

    It used to be a requirement that Community Service-funded bus lines carry the words “Community Service” on their headsigns, but I’m not sure if that’s required anymore.

    • David, I absolutely agree that there are many factors that could be in play here, and it very well could be down to money as you suggest. I also had no idea that the 67 was a “community service” line, and that this could be a factor.

      However, just to clarify, I didn’t say Muni’s managers are stupid, just that it’s often hard to know what they’re thinking — especially when a change is made unannounced and with no explanation, like this one was. I certainly don’t envy the jobs of the people running Muni, but I’d also love to know the reasons for this decision and hopefully start a discussion to find out if there’s any way to reverse it.

  3. I forgot to put in the last part: It could be that due to the “sequestering” budget situation that there temporarily isn’t enough money available to fully serve the Community Service lines. The short buses are cheaper to operate. It could well be that the Muni is saving money because they haven’t gotten enough of it from the Feds.

  4. Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog San Francisco

  5. The Transit Effectiveness Project, completed in 2008, suggested using smaller buses on community service lines in order to run more service, cheaper on these kinds of lines.

    also, the “sequester’ does not come into play on this sort of decision. it was made long ago.

  6. I’m a former Bernal Heights dweller now living in the hinterlands of Nevada. When I lived at the top of Carver and BH Blvd, I would take the 67 to work and it would always be packed in the am; especially galling on the am bus was the otherwise normal looking young man sitting in a seat who would floss his teeth, flinging his oral detritus with each snap of the floss.

  7. Since labor (the driver’s pay) is the largest part of operating cost, the size of the bus has little to do with what bus is assigned to a line (the costs of operating a 30-foot shorty, 40-foot regular bus or 60-foot articulated bus are similar). Terrain, curves and street width would have more to do with bus assignment.

  8. Well, whatever the reasons, a smaller-capacity bus running only every 20 minutes during a tight morning commute is more or less a slap in the face to those who are cramming into that bus.

    I started commuting downtown this week. The #67 was packed on Monday at 8am, and it was late, too (because it is slower to get passengers on and off a completely packed bus). Tuesday I tried the 23, and it was also a short bus, and also packed. Today, there was NO BUS at 9am (NextBus didn’t even show the route).

    If they are going to reduce the capacity of the buses on the route, the least they could do is run them more frequently so they run on time. I can take having to use elbow grease to get on and off the bus, but having it run late as a consequence… well that’s pretty awful.

  9. The problem is the VOTERS. Some years back people voted on a local initiative that took the funding for the Muni away from the Board of Supervisors and put it into the hands of a new isolated bureaucracy called the MTA. I argued against this at the time, feeling that pressure from the members of the board of supervisors was the only way to make sure that the Muni is adequately funded. But the voters prevailed and now we have the MTA mess that is responsible to nobody and increases parking fees and parking tickets to fund the Muni. So, it’s your fault, folks.

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