Specious Delivery: A Muni Bus Takes a Month to Make a Four-Day Trip

Muni riders are accustomed to long waits for a bus. Now Muni management knows how it feels.

Coach No. 8711, one of 50 New Flyer hybrid buses purchased in a $38.3 million deal, shambled into the Islais Creek Muni yard on Jan. 17, a 1,900-mile journey from the St. Cloud, Minn., factory. Sadly, its voyage commenced on Dec. 18. At least 10 percent of the $700,000-a-pop hybrids failed en route — but none more prodigiously than Coach No. 8711.

This gets worse: Muni confirms New Flyer refuses to disclose the mechanical history of an apparent litany of breakdowns, leaving the agency clueless on how to follow up on a demonstrably problematic bus.

Last month, SF Weekly revealed a bizarre handshake deal between Muni and New Flyer to manufacture and deliver those 50 hybrids prior to the Board of Supervisors approving the contract. This rush order also nixed an internal Muni competition between hybrid drives crafted by BAE or Allison. All 50 buses were outfitted with BAE components — the same systems already within Muni's notoriously underperforming hybrid fleet.

That article spurred Supervisor David Campos to call for a public hearing, which will be held on Thursday.

Now Campos has one more late-arriving question to ask.

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