Streetfilms: Making Muni Faster and More Reliable by Speeding Up Boarding

Some of the most important changes for Muni are also the simplest ones.

That's the message of a five-part Streetfilms series on ways to speed up and enhance Muni service that we'll be presenting in the coming weeks, and it's certainly true of the first film, on speeding up boarding, which we're presenting today. The film was shot and edited by Streetfilms' John Hamilton.

The most immediate thing Muni could do to speed up boarding on its buses is switch to a system called proof-of-payment, which allows riders who have a monthly Fast Pass, a transfer, or a TransLink card to board through any door on the bus. Instead of showing the driver proof-of-payment, passengers just hold on to their transfer, and fare inspectors randomly board vehicles to check for payment. That's already how it works on Muni's light rail vehicles when they run on the street, where it has led to faster boarding times and lower fare evasion rates.

In fact, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), which operates Muni, is already studying the idea and hopes to move forward with it eventually, according to Julie Kirschbaum, project manager for the MTA's Transit Effectiveness Project. Kirschbaum explains the idea in the film, and we also hear from SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf, Livable City's Tom Radulovich, and San Francisco Transit Riders Union organizer Dave Snyder.

Switching to proof-of-payment and all-door boarding isn't the only way to speed up boarding: moving to low-floor buses is a big part of the long-term solution, and the film looks at it as well.

The great thing about moving to all-door boarding is Muni could do it almost immediately. Now it's up to riders and policymakers to get excited about the idea and make it happen.