Future Muni: Transit Features We Don't Have But One Day Might

Future Muni: Transit Features We Don't Have But One Day Might
2013 installation of tunnel boring equipment at 4th & Bryant. | Photo: Scott Schiller/Flickr
By Shane Downing - Published on May 18, 2017.

As you prepare for the evening commute, take a minute to ponder the transit experience of the future. We don't mean self-driving cars or a hyperloop between Embarcadero and Ocean Beach, but Muni does have plans to make traveling by train or bus easier.

Managers at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency know a location-based service that predicts the arrival time of buses and trains boosts ridership and customer satisfaction, but implementing a solution hasn't been easy.

In January, riders were left frustrated by inaccurate predictions and were often left waiting for buses that never arrived.

That issue was reportedly fixed, but to buy itself more time to find suppliers for a new Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS), SFMTA’s board signed a $3.7 million contract extension with Nextbus so it can vet other companies. The AVLS is expected to be completed in early 2018.

If all goes to plan, SFMTA will have a new radio-based system for vehicle-tracking sometime before July 2019, but predicting when the next N-Judah arrives isn’t the only improvement the agency has in mind.

At tomorrow’s Policy and Governance Committee meeting, Muni will discuss features that could include crowding-level alerts, alternative route suggestions, connection information, stop announcements and a fully built-out Muni app.

Although it’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing any of these discussion points come to fruition anytime soon, it’s worth a moment to consider what the future of Muni might look like.

Potential predictions and arrivals. | Image: SFMTA
Stationary digital signage. | Image: SFMTA
Potential future mobile platform. | Image: SFMTA