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Civil Grand Jury reports (Volume 1976-77) online

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Toronto system, although in reality it has fewer. The American
Public Transit Association ranks Muni 18th out of 20 North American
transit systems in maintenance workers per vehicle; Toronto is ranked
second. Supervisor Barbagelata further stated that he cannot rely
on Muni's assessment of its own situation, that he would prefer UTD's
recommendations. Supervisor Kopp questioned the need for additional
workers when Muni is currently meeting 95£ of all runs, a specious
comment. Surely the improvement is proof of the need, the increase
in runs having been accomplished by a tremendous increase in manpower.

The outcome of all this haggling is that the Board has
agreed to Muni's 55 new maintenance workers if the PUC will request
a supplemental appropriation in order to hire UTD as a consultant to
Muni. The PUC had finally convinced the Board that Public Works'
money could not be used to hire UTD, and UMTA had made it clear that
its funds cannot be spent on a sole-source contract. Undaunted, the
Board decided that UTD consultation is so essential as to warrant an
appropriation from the General Fund.

During the Pall, the Board had hired UTD, under a nominal
contract, to study Muni maintenance practices. The resulting report
placed all blame on Muni management and completely discounted the
lack of manpower (and thus the Board) as the primary problem which
we believe it to be. Mow Muni is asked, or rather ordered, to join
forces with their detractors to implement the preventive maintenance
program, a venture for which the consultants will be paid ^2 n 0,000.
Apparently even UTD is uneasy about the feelings they raised at Muni
since they asked the PUC for assurance that if hired they will be
made to feel welcome!

We do not question that Muni could profit from the advl^n
of Toronto transit experts, but we do object to such Matant rcl'.tii
manipulation. It seems to us that the Board has attempted to give



the appearance of discovering the cause of Muni's maintenance probler.
and subsequently solving it, when in reality they have done neither.
We strongly urge that the Board adopt a more rational attitude toward
Muni funding.

State and Federal Assistance

For several years now, the Public Utilities Commission has
been instrumental in securing State and Federal funding for Muni.
During 1975-76 State and Federal funds provided for 31JE of Muni's
operating expenses. Of even greater significance is the capital
improvement program financed by the Urban Mass Transit Administration.
UMTA has so far spent over $275 million to provide San Francisco with
a new fleet of motor coaches and electric trolleys which are already
in service, and the all new Muni Metro which is due to begin opera-
tion in 1978. We applaud the PUC for its role in building a modern
Muni. Since UMTA has stated emphatically that future capital will be
denied unless the equipment is kept in good repair, we call upon the
Board of Supervisors to ensure a proper maintenance program.

Driver Attitude

Time and again the members of the Grand Jury have heard and
voiced complaints about the rude and reckless drivers. We have found
five leading causes for poor driver attitude: discipline, equipment,
security, schedules and selection.


Muni's Transportation Department is charged with the disci-
pline of all drivers, inspectors and dispatchers. Until recently,
the principal tool of driver discipline was a day's suspension, used
mostly for running sharp (ahead of schedule) and miss-outs (failure
to report in time for the first run). Another means of discipline
was something called "attitude development," to which drivers were
sentenced for discourtesy. We feel that the Transportation Depart-
ment has displayed an attitude problem of its own, promoting a policy
of suspensions and pooh-poohing the value of regular in-service train-
ing for drivers and supervisory training for inspectors and dispatch-
ers. We have even heard attitude development referred to as a "glamour

Suspensions have been a major factor in low driver morale.
The drivers regard the Inspectors as their enemies because it is the
inspectors who observe and report running sharp; the drivers feel
that some inspectors have favorites and pick on those whom they do not
favor, and the inspectors are rarely suspended for their own miscon-
duct. The inspectors themselves are not too happy either. They may
actually make less money than when they were driving (because they no
longer receive premium pay), and yet they do not enjoy the compensation



of management status. The atmosphere is one of suspicion and resent-
ment, when what is required for a smoothly functioning transit system
is a spirit of friendly cooperation. It is the Muni drivers and their
inspectors who are the primary providers of public service in our City.

In the arena of driver discipline, there has been for some
time now a tug-of-war between the Muni Transportation Department and
the Transport Workers Union, with denunciations on both sides. But
now that the Union and top Muni management have finally joined forces
behind a new Uniform Disciplinary Code, it seems realistic to expect
real improvement in the near future.

While Muni is not ceding its right to discipline employees
found fullty of major violations, such as dishonesty or drunkeness,
the new discipline code calls for a stair-step of corrective actions
for minor or moderate Infractions, such as running sharp, miss-outs
and discourtesy. The corrective actions range from verbal "caution
and reinstructicn" for the first offense in a three month period to
possible termination for the sixth offense. Furthermore, it is now
official policy that Division Superintendents and inspectors will
work with the operators in finding solutions to problems, and that they
will develop rapport and a more personal style of supervision. The
inspectors' morale will improve when they are not perceived as hench-
men and when they are treated as management. The emphasis will shift
from punishment to correction as Muni makes a concerted effort to
reduce accidents, miss-outs, and courtesy complaints by raising driver
morale. During a six month trial period, careful records will be kept
of disciplinary actions, and we recommend that the next Grand Jury
determine whether improvement is achieved.


The Muni drivers, already feeling low because of the suspen-
sion policy, are further demoralized by the condition of the fleet.
When the shops and yards are full of vehicles waiting for repairs, a
large number of runs are missed, as much as 25* in September and
October of 1976. Passengers wait and wait, only to board crowded buses
or to be passed by altogether because if the driver were to open the
door, someone would fall out. Driving a sardine-packed bus full of
irritable passengers, every morning and every evening through heavy
traffic must be quite provoking. This is not to say that driver
temper is excusable, but under the conditions described it is under-
standable. Furthermore, a driver can hardly feel satisfaction in his
work when he knows he is providing second-rate service and there is
little he can do about it. At least this is a problem that has an
obvious solution, and the situation is well in hand as the Emergency
Maintenance Program continues to return coaches to service and the
number of missed runs holds to 5% or less. Of course, this program
will end on Movember 30, 1977; the future depends on a permanent
preventive maintenance program.



Se curity

Security is another major factor in poor driver morale and
attitude. The drivers, especially those without radios, feel abandoned
when faced with violence on their coaches. In order to be first on
the draw, they may do a tough-guy act. The Board of Supervisors, the
Public Utilities Commission, the Municipal Railway and the Police
Department have had considerable difficulty in agreeing on a solution
to crime on the Muni. A large force of regular police officers would
cost too much. Temporary officers, who would receive full pay, but
limited tenure and no retirement benefits, would be cheaper, but the
use of temporaries is opposed by regular policemen who see a threat
to their own security and status. The least expensive solution is a
force of Federally funded CETA guards, but there is a natural reluc-
tance to arm them since they are not professionals.

The outcome was the decision to train a new class of CETA
guards, to be ready for duty in June under the supervision of the
Police Department. Unlike previous CETA guards, the new ones will be
authorized to carry a weapon. Although we have been assured that they
receive the same degree of fire-arms training as a regular policeman,
we do not consider armed CETA guards the ideal solution.

Since it is impossible to supply a guard for every Muni
vehicle and since such a cure might be worse than the disease, we are
hoping that the new communications system will go a long way in
alleviating crime on the Muni. The system has been approved for fund-
ing by the Urban Mass Transit Administration, but remains to be
contracted. The system's primary security feature Is a silent alarm
which will enable a driver to call for help without endangering him-
self or the passengers. The system is in use in three major cities
and is reported to have reduced transit related crime by 85 to 95% -
We urge that all parties concerned, work diligently to install our new
communications system as soon as possible.


Another major factor working against good driver attitude,
and safety as well, is the scheduling of runs. The schedules were
drawn up long before present traffic conditions. The drivers* attempts
to finish their runs on time is a leading cause of rudeness and reck-
less driving. It is the primary reason drivers leave their runs early
(running sharp), run red lights, pick up passengers without pulling In-
to the curb, pass up other passengers altogether, and fail to wait for
the elderly to be seated. While tight schedules do not excuse reck-
less driving, it is certainly a cause. We feel that many drivers will
not accept responsibility for attitude as long as they can find an
excuse in tight schedules.

The Transport Workers Union calls for schedule revision,



but takes Muni to court over a proposal to delete three runs from
one line and shift them to a nore crowded line, arguing (successfully)
that the transfer would be a hardship for those drivers on the reduced
line. Consider also that the Union asked the PUC to establish Muni
runs to the airport, when excellent and inexpensive service is already
provided, and it seems clear that the Union is bucking for more runs
and thus more drivers. Since a significantly larger operator force is
unlikely because of the City's financial condition, we hope to see
improved cooperation in making effective use of the drivers currently
authorized. We have been assured by the PUC that schedules will
indeed be revised.

The automatic scheduling system (RUCUS) which will soon be
installed at the PUC Computer Center is expected to be a boon to the
tedious and time-consuming chore of schedule revision. Another cause
for cheer is Muni ' s current consideration of changing from a schedule-
first philosophy to a spacing-first practice. Currently the inspectors
are required to keep vehicles on schedule as much as possible, rather
than space them out when a driver is late due to traffic conditions.
This requirement is the primary reason for ''bunching", an irritation
to drivers and passengers alike. Since bunching usually occurs during
rush hours when runs are frequent anyway, we feel that spacing should
take priority over schedules. The scheduling system and the practice
of spacing (if adopted) will improve Muni's responsiveness to changing
requirements, if the cooperation that is sorely needed is forthcoming.


Even though the percentage is small, there do seem to be
drivers who are unsuitable to public service. In past years, the
Civil Service Examination for drivers did not attempt to assess a
candidate's even temper. The situation is improving, however, because
the latest examination included English usage and driving codes, as
usual, but in addition the candidates were examined by an oral board
which deliberately tried to provoke them into losing their tempers.
Those who became aggressive and those who remained passive were failed;
the successful persons were those who confronted the situation, but
in a reasonably calm manner, Muni has received high praise for the
drivers so far hired from the new list, and as larger numbers of these
persons are hired, the public may see a difference in driver attitude.

It is indeed necessary now to use the word persons instead
of men. Women comprise nearly 13/5 of the new eligibility list; before
the new list, less than 1$ of Muni's l800 drivers were women. We
think women drivers are not only adequate, we suspect that adding
women to the force might, if anything, improve the tone a little.


Accidents on the Municipal Railway have received extensive



press coverage during the last year. The Grand Jury has studied the
problem of accidents, both their causes and the remedies.

Occupational Safety

3y far, the greatest tragedy during the last year was the
death of two cable car machinists on December 9. The Grand Jury has
read detailed accounts of the events leading up to the accident,
both Muni's report and that of an independent consultant. The
consultant is a highly recommended safety engineer and registered
safety inspector. According to his report, the safety procedures
used In the cable car barn for 80 or 90 years were not adhered to that
day because of an unfortunate combination of events. The usual pro-
cedure is to shut down cable winding machinery before machinists
begin repair work. On the day of the accident, three machinists were
sent to the vault at California and Mason Streets before the winding
machinery was shut down. They were instructed to perform some pre-
liminary work at street level, but not to enter the vault. Instead,
the three men entered the vault in order to conduct an impromptu
training session for the newest employee, and while there decided to
begin the initial phase of the work to be performed. The work required
standing between the spokes of the wheel; at that moment, the cable was
released from the' powerhouse, causing the wheels to rotate and crush two
of the machinists, both the newest employee and the one in charge. Even
though the machinists disobeyed orders, the accident would not have
occurred had the riggers in the powerhouse released the cable earlier
in the morning. They had been delayed because a vendor's truck had
arrived and required loading, and the cable car machinery supervisor
did not want to delay departure of the truck to bring back a shipment
of new cable. The consultant's conclusions are that the supervisor
should have communicated more effectively with the riggers in the
powerhouse, but that he was relying on the well-established procedure
that repair work does not begin until the machinery is shut down. The
consultant also concluded that while the accident could have been
avoided, it was caused by a combination of events rather than the
negligence of any one or two people. Another aspect of the tragedy is
that the cable car facilities were inspected by Cal OSHA in January
1975, and no criticism was made of the established safety procedures
for repair work.

During the past year the press reported that Cal OSKA was
threatening to shut down the Railway because of numerous safety
violations. Using a supplemental appropriation, Muni began an all-out
effort early this year to correct hazardous conditions; as of this
writing all serious violations and most minor ones have been corrected.
The question, of course, is why safety was so badly neglected for so
long. One reason is Muni's own failure to emphasize occupational
safety and to develop clear-cut guidelines for the sharing of respon-
sibility by engineering and safety. Another problem has been the
combined position of Director of Personnel and Safety; personnel is a


full-time responsibility in itself, and in most other transit systems
there is a separate person in charge of safety. This aspect of the
problem should improve shortly when the Public Utilities Commission
hires a Director of Safety, as provided for in the nev; budget. The
safety director will ensure that Cal OCHA standards are met and will
also develop training programs geared toward the reduction of acci-
dents. It is also true that during the past two years Muni's budget
requests for safety improvement have been denied.

The costliest Muni accidents, in terms of personal injury
and thus dollar volume of claims filed, are pedestrian accidents,
followed by intersection collisions and boarding and alighting acci-
dents. These accidents are most frequently a result of Muni's tight
schedules which motivate drivers to speed, to run red lights, to pick
up passengers from the street, and to start up before waiting for the
elderly to be seated. The obvious solutions, it seems to us, are
schedule revision and more frequent driver training. Muni is well
aware of the fact that when training is increased accidents dcrease.
At one point, it was decided to give in-service training to all
drivers during the early spring slack period. Because all drivers were
to be trained during a short period of time in limited facilities, the
amount of training was only one-half the amount formerly given. The
subsequent accident rate was increased 2-1/2 times for those drivers
who received the reduced training.

Given the necessary spare drivers, instructors, and facili-
ties, Muni's ideal would be to give in-service training to all drivers
every two years. The primary obstacle in achieving this goal is a
shortage of drivers; they cannot be spared from driving in order to
participate in training. Even when (and if) all authorized positions
are filled, there will not be a sufficient number. Currently, training
is given only as a disciplinary measure, a practice which must cer-
tainly promote a poor attitude toward training on the part of the
drivers. Another obstacle to good training is the Charter restriction
that only 20$ per hour incentive can be paid to line trainers. The
initial training for a new driver consists of five days of classroom
instruction and sixteen days of road instruction (line training).
Experienced drivers are reluctant to give road instruction for such a
minimal financial reward. We recommend that Muni take steps to give
recognition to drivers considered good enough to be selected for line-
training, to give it honor status. An important ingredient in status
is money, and we hope that the PUC will actively encourage a repeal
of the Charter restriction.

Despite the problems encountered, some improvement has been
achieved and proposals now under consideration may lead to further
improvement. The initial driver training course has been improved
and the accident rate for the newer drivers is less than that for
drivers overall.. The Bay Area Regional Transit Association is con-
sidering conducting quality in-service training for the benefit of



all Bay Area transit systems.

Cable car accidents have been especially well-publicized
during the last year. The majority of the accidents have involved
running board passengers being hit, and boarding and alighting
injuries. In January the PUC adopted new rules limiting the number of
outside passengers, and requiring signs to be posted warning against
leaning out and overcrowding on running boards. Muni has also recom-
mended the prohibition of left-hand turns by automobiles on cable car
streets, the posting of signs warning automobile drivers of cable car
turns, and the proscription of running board passengers altogether.
Muni's Transit Improvement Program is considering the development of
a hydraulic braking system and improved night lights.

The three well-publicized cable car accidents of last Fall
were caused by faulty depression beams, which caused the cable cars
to stop suddenly. Muni had previously requested $400,000 for a pro-
gram of Reconstruction and Replacement, including $250,000 to repair
the depression beams, but the entire request had been denied by the
Public Utilities Commission. Following the accident, a supplemental
appropriation was approved by the Board of Supervisors. It is inter-
esting to note that claims arising out of the three accidents had
amounted to more than $860,000 as of last January. The amount settled,
if typical, will be only 8% or 9% of the amount claimed, but it is a
sobering thought that the accidents could have been avoided altogether.


We have demonstrated that the number one problem at Muni
has been the lack of a preventive maintenance program. Poorly main-
tained coaches, trolleys and streetcars break down frequently, creating
a workload the understaffed shops cannot cope with. The effect on
service is devastating when as many as 25$ of all runs are missed.
Passengers are kept waiting, buses are crowded, and drivers are rude.
Furthermore, State and Federal financing is jeopardized when fares
drop and when equipment is not kept in good repair.

The primary reason for inadequate maintenance has been
inadequate funding. Muni caught on to the need for more maintenance
three years ago; the Board of Supervisors is just now showing signs of
reluctant agreement. Not only has the Board failed to recognize the
critical need for better maintenance, they have attempted to place
all blame on Muni management and are now presenting outside consulta-
tion as the solution. When a preventive maintenance program is in-
stalled and transit service is permanently improved, the Board will
no doubt take credit. In reality, the Board has caused the problem,
and their suggestion that they have discovered the cause and proposed
the solution is a sham.

We do not imply that Muni management enjoys a spotless record,



A manual work order system should have been Installed long ago,
despite the Impending automatic system and the shortage of clerical
help. Disciplinary policy was unwise and deserved redesign before
now. Occupational safety has not been accorded its proper importance.
The most telling event of the year was the adoption of Alfred Eggen's
proposal to combine the two cables used on the Powell-Mason cable car
line. Mr. Eggen's ingenuity will save the residents of San Francisco
nearly $100,000 annually. He first conceived his idea years ago, but
could not convince Muni management to take responsibility for such a
change. We congratulate Muni on the numerous improvements that are
underway, but we hope that in the future they are not so ponderously
slow to take action.

We do not believe that Muni management can be fully evaluated
at this time. Because of the overwhelming primacy of factors beyond
their control, the current Muni administration has not been given a
chance to show what they can do. The utter hopelessness of the situa-
tion has probably aggravated any management shortcomings. But if
the required personnel are funded and a preventive maintenance program
is installed, we have every reason to believe that Muni will provide
the City with good transit service. We were quite impressed with the
dedication and resourcefulness we encountered during our many discus-
sions with Muni officials; nearly every person had concrete ideas for
improvement in his area of responsibility.

Our primary recommendation to Muni is to be bold in tapping
the ideas of its own employees, and to be firm and swift in the adop-
tion of better ways of doing business.

Irene G. O'Neil
Suzanne E. Perry

Leslie Evans, Chairman



The Department of City Planning, under the City Planning
Commission, has the responsibility of adopting and maintaining a
comprehensive, long term general plan for the improvement and future
development of the City, known as the Master Plan, including making
any necessary changes and coping with numerous existing and future
complex problems in the Neighborhood, Commerce and Industry,
Transportation, Housing and Land Use planning. The Department
maintains constant contact with the federal and state governments

Online LibraryCalifornia. Grand Jury (San Francisco)Civil Grand Jury reports (Volume 1976-77) → online text (page 5 of 32)