San Franciscans can’t agree on anything. A recent SFMTA poll is a good example of this phenomenon, with one major exception.
If you’ve been to San Francisco, you know that everyone has a strong opinion on just about everything. But some of the strongest opinions San Franciscans hold are related to transit. Perhaps it’s the city’s famous hills, or maybe it’s the fact that large parts of town are seriously underserved by public transit—whatever the reason, San Franciscans spend a lot of time thinking—and arguing—about the best way to get from A to B.
The SFMTA recently released the results of a customer satisfaction survey for the fourth quarter of the 2014 fiscal year. The survey, conducted via email with about 3,500 SF residents responding, asked questions about four major transit categories: Muni service, walking, biking, and taxis.
Unsurprisingly, opinions on Muni were mixed. For example, respondents were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with Muni on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being very dissatisfied, 5 being very satisfied, and 3 being neutral. The average rating for overall satisfaction with Muni? A perfect 3.00. That’s right—people are so divided on their overall opinion of Muni that the average is exactly in the middle. Muni also weighted the results of the survey responses by zipcode to account for geographic factors, and the overall satisfaction still worked out just .07 points shy of 3 at 2.93. It’s true, a third of people said they are “neutral,” but hey, neutral is still an opinion. The survey did not require respondents to input an answer.
Diving deeper, there was more agreement on certain factors than others. For example, Muni drivers have been doing a great job: about 2/3 of people said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the safe operation of Muni vehicles. (It’s a good thing they didn’t ask about the vehicles themselves, as they seem to have a penchant for bursting into flames–on Rincon Hill, in the Richmond District, in the Richmond District again, and who knows where else.).
On the other hand, nearly half of those polled said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with service reliability. Cleanliness of Muni facilities also received a low 2.57 average weighted rating.
Taxis in San Francisco
But it appears the people saved much of their ire for the city’s taxis. Surprisingly, considering how often people complain about this, about 55% of people said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their cleanliness. However, the responses get worse from there. In light of recent reporting on the decline of the taxi industry in the SF Examiner, this is not surprising. Though most of those polled also thought that taxis were safe, more than half of respondents thought taxis were difficult to reserve on the phone or online, tough to hail on the street, and driven by discourteous drivers. In fact, nearly half said they were dissatisfied with taxi drivers’ courtesy, and an additional 9% on top of that said they were very dissatisfied.
Naturally, the goal of these surveys is for SFMTA to improve service across the various modes of transportation it is responsible for. To that end, careful analysis of the results will be important. In the meantime, it’s interesting to take note that while San Francisco may be divided over some issues, at least we can all rally around the anti-taxi flag.