San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) is phasing in fare inspection. While fare collection has not stopped during COVID-19, inspectors are returning to service this fall and becoming part of a larger ambassador program to provide customer assistance. This includes reminding riders that masks are required and to maintain physical distance. They will ultimately conduct fare inspection later this year, including citation issuance. MUNI is also implementing an upgraded Customer Information System from Cubic Transportation Systems that will use digital signage and an updated mobile app to provide real-time information, including estimates on vehicle occupancy.
As part of the phased approach to fare inspection, inspectors in September began providing riders with service information, fare programs, kiosk location information, physical distancing assistance, and masks when needed at stops and stations. Data is informing deployment, with inspectors serving routes with the highest ridership.
Later this month, the second phase will return inspectors to MUNI vehicles, including light rail, to also conduct fare inspections. No citations will be issued. The third phase, slated to begin later this year, will have inspectors continue customer assistance and return to full fare inspections, including citation issuance as needed.
According to MUNI, fare collection accounts for 20% of revenues.
In May, the Federation Transit Administration (FTA) announced a total of $1.68 billion in grants for transit agencies around the country, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which has oversight over MUNI, received $197.2 million to continue transit operations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and replace lost fare revenues during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
MUNI is also upgrading its Customer Information System, which includes system software, multimedia LCD digital signs at railway platforms and bus shelters, onboard digital sign software, an updated mobile app (MuniMobile) with ticketing and trip planning capabilities, and an analytics platform.
According to Cubic, the system offers vehicle occupancy level information to encourage social distancing, and real-time information to reduce wait and travel time, such as vehicle arrival predictions; map views of vehicle locations on signs and via the app; transfer connection predictions; directions to alternative routes; updated information about re-routes, delays and services interruptions; and more.