‘Breaking News:’ Results of the ResetSF Muni Survey

Source: ResetSF

BREAKING NEWS: most riders aren’t satisfied with Muni, but aren’t sure where SFMTA will find the money to improve it.

This is according to a survey by Assessor Recorder Phil Ting (who is also in the running for mayor). His website, ResetSF, sent out a survey to “1700 San Francisco voters with email addresses” and was conducted from Feb. 25 to March 1. Last week, some of you told us that you received an email survey about Muni, and some people on Twitter even thought that SFMTA sent the survey.

We asked ResetSF about their methodology and here’s what they told us:

“The survey was sent to every registered voter in San Francisco for whom we have voter file. The total is about 100,000 in that category – and in the week the survey was out more than 1750 completed it.”

ResetSF says this is a “pretty good representation of San Franciscans with emails who are fluent in English” (the survey was only conducted in English), but ResetSF folks said they “don’t really have reason to think there is much difference when it comes to the MUNI.” Because the survey was online, it skews toward younger respondents.

More about the demographic of the respondents:

49% male, 47% female (balance refused to answer).

67% straight, 20 LGBT or Bi.

61% White, 12% Asian, 5% Latino, 3% African American.

77% under age 50 and 33% over age 50.

So there’ s your grain of salt.

In their quick poll, Phil Ting/ResetSF found the unsurprising fact that most people don’t have a great impression of Muni:

Just 7% of people have a “very favorable” impression of MUNI with 24% reporting “very unfavorable.” Overall, 44% of the respondents to the online poll had a very or somewhat favorable opinion of MUNI, while 56% had a somewhat or very negative impression of the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

And people can’t agree on how to raise funds to fix Muni. ResetSF’s survey respondents don’t want transportation utility fees, parking tax, or more parking tickets. So I guess we’re back to where we were before — nobody likes the way things are, and nobody knows where to get the money to fix the things we don’t like. Hmm.

Details of the Reset SF Muni Survey.


  • Funds are not the problem! It’s the utilization of funds! Giving more funds to MUNI is like giving more money to a crack addict and hoping he will clean up his act; it won’t happen. The addict will just spend it on more crack. Similarly, MUNI will figure out ways to waste the money and continue to support their bloated payroll and egregious overtimes.

    Just as an example: if SFMTA-owned parking garages were operated efficiently, they could bring in millions per year to MUNI. But the parking garage contracts are given to cronies of the SFMTA board, and the return is pennies on the dollar.

    Bottom line: MUNI wastes money all over the place, and will continue to do so. Throwing good money after bad is not a viable long-term strategy. MUNI must figure out how to live within their means and provide good service; if they can’t do so, then the management should step aside and let someone else do the job.

  • alex

    Why wasn’t firing the entire payroll of MTA and rehiring only half the positions at half the pay an option? These are our tax dollars we’re talking about here, and they’re being wasted on corrupt bureaucratic officials!

  • Malcolm

    Ok, so the survey should be fairly accurate because it is actually a huge sample for the number of Muni users (about the same number used to predict presidential elections). That it was conducted online shouldn’t have thrown it much. As such the results are as expected. People aren’t happy with Muni – no surprises there.

    That leaves two questions. 1. How do we get more money to improve the system? 2. How can this money be spent effectively to give Muni riders and taxpayers bang for their buck?

    These are obviously difficult questions and it will take thoughtfulness from officials and citizens working together to find answers.

    If anyone has inspired ideas – go on to Reset San Francisco’s website and post them to the forum.

    • Yeah I agree it’s a pretty large sample compared to what I’ve seen with other surveys and you hit the million dollar questions right on the head.

    • @Malcolm: Here are some links to Reset SF forums about MUNI. Check them out. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas of improving MUNI without raising taxes or fees.


      The ideas in these forums are about reducing the number of stops. They are absolutely excessive. We really don’t need a stop every block. This will improve traffic flow and stopping fewer times will cut down on commute times.

      Another suggestion is having rapid routes of the same line that stop less often. I walk a few extra blocks every morning to catch the rapid bus and I am happy to do so because it takes half the time to get to work.

      Both of these suggestions are pretty low cost and offer vast improvements to MUNI’s current system.

  • Seven

    FWIW, the ResetSF “How do you usually commute” numbers appear to reflect a different demographic than the SF City Survey 2009.

    Public Transportation: 41%
    Drive Alone: 33%
    Walk: 9%
    Carpool: 7%
    Work at home: 5%
    Bicycle: 4%
    Other: 1%


    and the American Community Survey 2009 (US Census):

    Car, truck, or van: 46.4%
    Drove alone: 38.9%
    Carpooled: 7.4%
    Public transportation: 31.8%
    Walked: 10.3%
    Bicycle: 3.0%
    Taxicab, motorcycle, or other means: 1.8%
    Worked at home: 6.8%


  • Alan

    As noted by others, the Muni is poorly managed.
    There are numerous non-budget-dependent
    improvements which Muni, the SFMTA, the
    Mayor, and the Supes have been asked to make in Muni service.
    None of these requests have been
    addressed in any significant way.
    Schedule adherence is non existent.
    Next-Muni information is “distributed” by
    a third party “contractor” which is utterly
    incapable of providing useful, reliable
    information. The SF Muni is
    an ongoing disaster. It needs to be brought back to DIRECT control by city government,
    and city government needs to start
    paying attention to its responsibilities
    toward non-tourist, non-billionaire residents
    of the city and county of San Francisco.

    As for budget dependent items,
    the Muni runs a decrepit fleet composed almost exclusively of
    used buses and used F-line street cars.
    Compare the Muni fleet to Samtrans,
    A-C Transit, and VTA for evidence of that assertion.

    • Joe

      I ride AC Transit and Muni all the time, and even though the Muni coaches may not look as nice/new as the Van Hool AC Transit coaches, they offer a much smoother ride. And in my opinion, the plastic seats of Muni coaches are easier to keep clean and surprisingly more comfortable than the cloth Van Hool seats. More than once, when I’m sitting in the window seat, the window has popped out of its frame on turns… this is very dangerous since the windows are low and someone could fall out. Also, I’ve read that AC drivers don’t really like the Van Hools, and one of the reasons AC went with them is because the Belgium-based company flew them out on multiple trips to Europe… there’s corruption and decrepitude everywhere. But I’m relatively happy with the service on both systems in any case. People whine too much. Inaccurate nextbus is better than no nextbus.

    • Dexter Wong

      I would like to point out that the F Line cars are all antiques (the newest PCC car having been built in 1951 and the rest built in the late 1940s), the bulk coming from Philadelphia and Newark, but a few were bought new by Muni years ago. The Milan cars are not even native to San Francisco, but they work fairly well. As for used buses, Muni doesn’t have that many, just a number of Gilligs from AC Transit. (They were retired after newer buses were purchased.) As for Samtrans, until they bought some new buses recently, they had one of the oldest fleets in the Bay Area. Some Muni buses may look decrepit, but they were typically bought new.

  • Alyssa

    It’s tough to hear that we as San Franciscans know we need a better transportation system, yet we don’t know how to come up with the solutions. It’s about more than revenue, we need a smarter system with improved technologies that are adapted to our needs. Muni should work for us, not the other way around. Thanks for sending out this survey Reset SF, it may just catch the right ears.

  • Steve

    The mayoral candidate behind this poll could not care a whit about the quality of public transportation in this city … as evidenced by his demagoguery around parking tickets. Just so you know.

    • Sophie


      The point of the issue with the ticket plan is that it is a bandaid solution. It’s not longterm and it’s not useful to San Franciscans. It’s not a smart, thought through, long term solution. It’s a short term revenue generator.

      The things city hall needs to accomplish, as Alyssa said above, is a SMARTER MUNI, and that takes brains and the push of San Franciscans.

      Don’t you think the survey shines light on the problem with public transportation in SF and will hopefully be heard by city hall. We need a reliable public transportation system and changes need to be made.

  • Daishin

    As I’ve said all along, the problems with MUNI are systemic. Management and the unions don’t want more efficient transit because they both have vested interest in the way things are now. Only we citizens care about a better MUNI.

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