The closed Metro Muni is making moves for improvement. The system reportedly secured a new contract of $89 million to implement an accurate arrival time calculator. Notoriously late, the current arrival system has been in dire need of an update. Inaccurate Muni clocks have been a major displeasure to riders for many years.
The new system will grant a 16-year contract for a Next Generation Customer Information System to bring state-of-the-art, real-time information to train and bus riders. The system will feature more expansive larger, solar-powered graphical signs at bus shelters and rail stations. Riders will also be able to get the updates in pockets too. A new multilingual, profile-based trip planning and mobile payment app will also be available.
Currently trains run on ancient software imported from floppy disks. Municipalities across the world have taken steps to optimize their transit better than San Francisco has. The Covid-19 pandemic officially halted Muni rail operations in April. Over four months later, the system re-opened for less than one week in August before closing again, citing major setbacks.
San Francisco is one of the most tech savvy cities in the world, yet its residents have endured bottlenecks up and down for far too long. Due to the patchwork of regional systems that make up the transit system for the Bay Area, San Francisco has been unable to solve the modest technical challenges of running trains on time. From CalTrains to BART, more accurate, on-time arrival and departure times can and will help to improve the travel of all within the Bay Area.
Predominantly lower income workers, the back bones of society, use these train routes. Their continued success is imperative to the function of our greater community. It is imperative for lower income workers to have access to accurate transportation times as a matter of justice because the ability to access goods and services in a timely manner is fundamental to living a full life in a modern city. The current system has the potential to improve transportation throughout the region. The Bay Area must continually work together to make this new MUNI TRAIN system a benefit for all.
Photo Credit: “Muni Waiting for Caltrain Passengers” by Austin Cross is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0