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SFMTA officials stand by 'Muni minute'


Members of the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s Board of Directors are standing by the process Muni uses to determine its on-time performance.

On Friday, The Bay Citizen reported that Muni had inflated its on-time rates by up to 13 percentage points. The transit agency based its performance on an elongated definition of a minute.

Unlike the standard minute, which lasts 60 seconds, the "Muni minute" can last as long as 119 seconds or 1 minute and 59 seconds. A Muni vehicle is on time if it is "no more than one minute early or four minutes late," according to the City Charter. Using its new definition of a minute, SFMTA reported Muni buses and trains that were up to 4 minutes, 59 seconds behind schedule as on-time.

SFMTA board members said they were not concerned about the agency's reporting practices.

“We have a lot of faith in the management team here in terms of the integrity of the information,” said Jerry Lee, chair for the agency’s Policy and Governance Committee, during a public meeting Friday morning.

The agency claimed that any discrepancies were unintentional and the result of older technology.

“We reported the numbers based on the technology that was available,” said Cheryl Brinkman, vice chairman of the SFMTA’s board of directors.

The agency is set to to unveil a more comprehensive set of performance metrics in August that will use the standard definition of a minute. 

“I'm a huge fan of measuring everything, but it's gotta be something that's reasonable and tells us what’s going on with the system,” said John Haley, the agency’s transit director.

Muni riders just want the agency to be honest — and its buses to run on time.

"Transit agencies need to use straightforward methods and math when they calculate their on-time ratings and let the truth stand on its own for all to see," said one Bay Citizen reader commenting on the original story under the alias of Jon Spangler. "I will continue to support and ride BART, AC Transit, MUNI, and other transit because it makes more sense than crowding the streets with cars and the air with pollution. But I will appreciate them more if they are transparent and forthcoming with the truth." 

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