60-foot Muni buses to replace shorter vehicles on some lines this weekend

- Many Muni riders have the same complaint when they board the bus— overcrowding.

"Elbow to elbow. Pretty stuffed in there. Sometimes the doors don't close," said passenger Ezra Teshone.

But those who run the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) say they're aware of the problem.

Part of the solution, they say, are new 60 foot-long buses, which will be replacing 40-footers on some major lines beginning Saturday. The larger buses can carry about 50 more people.

"They'll either see larger buses or more frequent service, both of which will provide for more capacity and less crowding. And likewise on the trains, we are adding more trains," said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director.

"That would be great, really great especially for the elderly and wheelchair bound people.They always have to wait longer," said one passenger.

On Cesar Chavez Street the SFMTA also unveiled its first new maintenance yard in 30 years. It's modern, safe and should do a better job of keeping those buses on the road.

"Keep the buses on the street so riders see less slowdowns, less delays and breakdowns," said John Haley, SFMTA maintenance director.

But despite upgrades, passengers still have another complaint besides overcrowding.

"I ride it daily. It's like 20 minutes late," said one passenger.

According to SFMTA's own statistics, on-time performance rates hover just under 60 percent, far below the goal of 85 percent.

While on-time rates have improved on some lines, transportation officials say getting to 85 percent may not be possible anytime soon.

"To keep service reliable while you are stuck in traffic with everyone is difficult. We've been working to give Muni more dedicated space on the streets of San Francisco," said Reiskin.

More relief for riders appears to be on the way.

Last week Bay Area voters passed a measure to increase bridge tolls. About $140 million from that is expected to go towards new Muni buses and trains.

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