Right up front, we’ll say this is an unusual post for us, since we are and will continue to be a historic preservation organization. But we are also strong supporters of delivering the best possible public transit in San Francisco. That’s why we want to take a minute to congratulate the leadership of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on their stunning bus modernization program.
Led by the SFMTA Board chaired by Tom Nolan, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, and Director of Transit John Haley, the SFMTA has turned Muni’s bus fleet from an aging, scattered, and frankly ugly bunch of vehicles into a sleek, green, and homogeneous group of trolley coaches and motor coaches.
Historically, Muni procured buses in a disjointed manner, constrained by past practices and an overly complicated process that often included demands for custom features rather than proven design and technology. The current leadership team pushed hard to simplify and accelerate the procurement process, using innovative ideas such as “piggybacking” their order on another city’s (Seattle, in the case of trolley coaches) to get faster delivery and economies of scale.
All the new coaches come from New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg. The SFMTA board last week approved the purchase of 33 additional 60-foot articulated zero emission trolley coaches (shown above) to join 60 already here. There are also 225 60-foot hybrid-electric motor coaches and 200 40-foot standard motor coaches already here or on order. Later this year, Muni will order 40-foot standard zero emission trolley coaches as well, completing the program.
The new buses are all over the city, further lowering Muni’s carbon footprint, already among the lowest of any major bus operator in North America. A few of the 60-foot motor coaches even did recent emergency fill-in duty on the T-Third line briefly when LRV service was disrupted (below).
Kudos to the SFMTA leadership team for this dramatic overhaul of Muni’s bus fleet. (We now resume our regular historic programming. 🙂 )
We are loving our new 40 foot and 60 foot electrics here in Seattle.
During the Muni Centennial, I was riding restored classic trolley bus 776, and explained to another passenger how all the Muni electric vehicles (and the big motors that run the cable car system) are energized by hydro-electric power from the Hetch Hetchy project. “Water flowing downhill makes the bus go uphill”.
I have to admit I’ve never been fond of the dark grey livery. Historically the MSR fleet had white fronts so they could be seen in the fog. This strikes me as exactly the opposite…
The buses themselves are nice though.
I have to agree that the new Muni colors are not the best. Whose idea was this? What’s wrong with keeping the old Muni colors of green and cream?