Civil Grand Jury Calls SF Muni 'Switchbacks' Unacceptable
San Francisco’s Muni system is disputing the findings of a civil grand jury report highly critical of its operations. The Grand Jury found Muni’s use of so called “switchbacks” unacceptable.
A switchback is when a bus or train is stopped short of the end of its route. Passengers are told to get off, the vehicle is turned around, and riders are left stranded until the next one comes along. Muni says it’s a necessary tool to reduce scheduling delays and “bunching” of buses or trains.
But Sharon Gadberry, who chaired the grand jury committee investigating the issue says that’s not what they heard from other transit agencies.
“They were just kind of shocked,” says Gadberry. “And the other comment was that it didn’t work to speed up the traffic because one-third of the time is taken from loading and unloading.”
The report said other transit agencies the grand jury interviewed said they never used the practice except in emergencies. Muni spokesman Paul Rose disagrees.
“That’s just not true,” Rose says. “We’ve confirmed with a number of other transit operations, including some that they said they talked to, and they’ve confirmed that they do use speed switchbacks on a daily basis.”
Rose says Muni vehicles use switchbacks less than one percent of the time. The report says even that small percentage of switchbacks affects tens of thousands of riders a month.