ALTERNATIVE FUEL PROGRAM AND MUNI
MUNI is our local transportation monopoly that provides Public Transportation to the constituents of San Francisco. Over the years MUNI has NOT reduced tons of toxins that MUNI spews into the air to the detriment of thousands of innocent people. Foremost among them falling prey to death - our children. MUNI contributes to diseases like asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses.
It may be of interest to know that MUNI is the only Public Transportation Entity in California that uses hundreds of diesel buses daily, which contribute to the pollution of the City and County of San Francisco. We have right now smaller towns that operate buses within their jurisdiction on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). These LNG buses spew a smaller percentage of NO2 into the air. Other towns have Electric Buses and buses that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Please visit: www.biodiesel.org.
The Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) was created to advice MUNI. It consists of members of the community from San Francisco and others experts who purport to understand the complications that MUNI has done little to fathom or resolve. The IOC drew up an 11-point strategy for MUNI to incorporate into their daily operation. Of these 11 suggestions MUNI has implemented only 5 over a period of 3 years. Some members who have stayed on this committee for years are simply fed up with MUNI and with those agencies that support MUNI. MUNI gets an F - which stands for Failure not Fuel.
MUNI could have installed Particulate Traps or PM traps to reduce diesel pollution. These traps are cost effective, cheap, but to date MUNI has not installed any PM traps and this has shocked environmentalists and others who abhor the defiant attitude MUNI has taken. Please visit www.arb.ca.gov. Please check out the Air Quality Index link.
The San Francisco Transportation Authority and a few members of the Board of Supervisors like Tom Ammiano have done next to nothing to help the constituents of San Francisco as far as reducing diesel toxins.
It is appalling when MUNI proposes a strategy to buy buses with State of Art technology incorporating alternative clean air methods, a few of which are built today - prototype buses that will not be available in numbers as they lack production in 2004 and later.
MUNI plans to have clean fuel buses in operation by the year 2004. At the rate MUNI is tackling this project it is far behind lacking a sensible and reasonable projected time frame. Wasting time on excuses and failing the constituents of San Francisco. MUNI is good at procrastination - zero on achievement - great at dreaming!
MUNI has been playing with excuses that we have the hills in San Francisco to deal with. We know of LNG and Electricity Buses that climb hills in many other places - spewing very little toxins.
MUNI is mandated to listen to and cooperate with Private Entities to help MUNI with ideas and if necessary be part of the operation. If Sonoma County can do it with LNG buses why can we not. In fact there is one Corporation that can run the operations for MUNI on a turnkey basis. May be MUNI should consider working with the entity that has a track record in Sonoma County and some others to. Helped NORCAL with its trucking operations reducing pollution.
Right now the right thing to do for MUNI is retrofit the existing diesel buses with PM traps and reduce the diesel toxins which cause 70% of the known cancer all over the City and County of San Francisco. Work with MUNI mechanics and those MUNI Managers that can help MUNI. Stop keeping critical MUNI employees likes those working in the Maintenance Department out of the decision making. After all they are the ones making MUNI tick on a daily basis.
MUNI often boasts that it has improved its operations. It boasts that most of its buses are on schedule. We applaud MUNI for some of its schedule successes. How ever this has not stopped MUNI from polluting the environment. Scheduling is one important factor but an even greater factor is reducing diesel toxins that MUNI has done little to nothing about.
It must be noted that MUNI gets over 70% of its funding from the Federal Government, which amounts to millions of dollars. It is time the Federal Government mandates certain standards linked to pollution to Federal Funding. Right now MUNI is getting away with MURDER. Time for MUNI to pay attention.
One has only to witness the amount of diesel buses MUNI plies on 3rd Street. MUNI promised the Court recently to abide by the Court's ruling and decrease the amount of pollution in the Southeast Corridor. The bulk of 40 footer buses running on 3rd Street are diesel. MUNI has most of them packed not only affecting the health of the riders but those in the vicinity. Not even a Court Ruling seems to deter MUNI - they do as they please - but may I ask for how long?
It is also important that the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFTA) is investigated and that an audit is done on all the moneys spent on all of MUNI projects. In the first place the SFTA commissioners should be citizens of San Francisco not elected Supervisors. It is wrong for the entire S.F. Transportation Commission to consist of members of the Board of Supervisors. At the most may be 2 or 3 could be members of the Board of Supervisors. If I had my way - none.
NORCAL, which manages our Waste Management, uses many LNG trucks. They have done well so far but these trucks are NOT pollution free. Santa Barbara has CNG buses and they seem to moving in the right direction with less pollution. New York City has retrofitted thousands of their diesel buses with PM traps and has done well. MUNI keeps spewing a lot of diatribe and a lot of toxins into our environment.
When knowledgeable constituents appear before the Board of Supervisors and before the Transportation Commission - they are permitted 2 to 3 minutes as part of Public Comment. We the constituents on the other hand have to listen to the diatribe from the others for hours on end. This must stop - the Public should be given more time and those who have not done their job - less.
We also should look at the whole picture. As long as we have so many cars with single riders polluting the air - the diesel buses just add to this factor. Public Transportation should be encouraged. Our children should not die in vain because we cannot right what is wrong.
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