Muni May Launch System-Wide Overhaul Targeted At Disappearing 'Ghost Buses'

If you've ever been left waiting for a Muni bus or train that suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from the NextBus countdown—or just never showed up—your problems may soon be solved by an $127 million SFMTA overhaul, writes the Examiner.

The ongoing issue of "ghost buses" has particularly infuriated riders over the last few days, as rain and a NextBus glitch have led the SFMTA to repeatedly notify riders on Twitter that NextBus predictions are inaccurate.

The resulting "ghost buses" and "ghost trains" have left many riders stranded—and fuming.

To address the system-wide issue, Muni is moving towards a comprehensive upgrade of both its dispatch and software systems, the latter of which hasn't been upgraded since 2002.

The new dispatch system—known as the Computer Aided Dispatch and Automated Vehicle Location System (CAD/AVL)—could possibly be installed as soon as March, according to the SFMTA's Chief Technology Officer, Lisa Walton.

“I don’t want to make false expectations,” Walton said in the Examiner, "[But] the CAD system will certainly help the 'ghost bus' situation, will certainly help with what vehicle is on what route.”

However, while the CAD/AVL dispatch system could potentially bring an end to the ghost bus issue, an upgrade of the NextBus software system itself would not come until 2018.

That upgrade would allow Muni to better account for the city's recent spike in traffic and gridlock, creating more accurate predictions of when a bus will arrive. 

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