November 12, 2002

The Slow Bus

Category: Transit

San Francisco: While Muni spends millions on new busses (which are arguably inferior in many ways to the slightly dirty existing buses), no improvement, other than a cosmetic brush up takes place. One problem is that Muni simply stops too many times (see the N-Judah report below). The 5 Fulton bus line exhibits this classic, and perpetually unresolved if not ignored, problem particularly well.

A journey from Divisidero to Montgomery St, covering a distance of just over 2 miles takes 30 minutes on a good day. That's an average speed of just over 4 miles per hour. This is barely faster than walking and completely unacceptable. How is anyone going to be swayed to use buses with this kind of performance?

The 5 normally stops every 2 blocks. This is the standard Muni stopping rate, and though I'd rather see every 3 blocks, I won't argue with it too much. However, after Fillmore St., the bus starts stopping at an appalling rate. Between Webster and Laguna (That's one block), the bus stops THREE times. The latter 2 stops are so close together, two average people could stand at the two stops and easily play catch with a football. I can only assume this is the result of some planning glitch that has never been reconsidered. Similar distances occur between the next 6 or 7 stops, including many that cause the bus to miss lights and become further delayed. Bus stops should always be after the light, so you don't fall into a cycle of picking people up while the light is green only to take so long the light turns red just as you're ready to go.

By eliminating or reconfiguring most of these unnecessary stops, the 5 would travel 10 minutes faster in my estimation over those 2 miles. Shaving little bits like this here and there is the way to fix Muni, not buying new equipment.

Posted by Nick at November 12, 2002 3:50 PM