Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Does Muni Need a New Control Center?

There's no denying that Muni's current control center, which dates to the mid-70's opening of the Muni Metro subway, is a museum piece:

From an SF Chronicle Article

They would like to replace all this with up-to-date equipment. The estimated price tag is $120 million, which seems a bit steep to me. For comparison, that's enough for a whole fleet of LRV's (they go for about $2-3 million), one mile of streetcar tracks at San Francisco prices (or 6 miles they way the build it in Portland--see my earlier post on streetcar engineering here), or a heck of a lot of busses.

Up-to-date does not necessarilly mean top-dollar. Certainly, if one were motivated, something could be put together with off-the-shelf equipment for far less than that.

Muni has a lot of problems, but what it needs most of all is competent and honest management. A state-of-the-art control center will not help address the fact that, due to equipment breakdowns and understaffing, many runs never even leave the barn! Put the right people in charge, and they'll run the system well with walkie talkies and notepads--and then we can start talking about what technology can help them do their jobs more efficiently.

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