Sunday, May 18, 2014

Why Muni Omitted Surnames of Safe Driver Honorees from Ads

Have you noticed the ads inside Muni buses and streets cars for their "Saluting the 174 Safe Driver Honorees of 2013"? Yeah, didn't think so since you're probably reading your electronic device or looking out the window for your stop. But they caught my eye since the surnames of all the drivers are omitted.

I queried San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose about the ad campaign, omitted last names and associated costs. He says:

As a general rule, the SFMTA avoids fully identifying frontline personnel in its external marketing. This is done primarily for confidentiality and safety purposes. Similarly, it has been a long-standing organizational policy to not require Muni operators to wear name tags. This policy is in line with public transit agencies throughout the country and internationally. Though public servants, many operators wish to maintain their privacy and not identify themselves using their full name.
All Muni operators can be identified through a “cap number” arm patch worn on the right sleeve of their uniform should a member of the public wish to commend or report issues relating to a particular Muni driver. Our customers can also report operator issues by simply dialing 311 and providing the date, route and time of day they were riding.
We are extremely proud of our 2013 Safe Driver awardees and chose to honor them this year with special-length car cards. The two 39’’ x 11’’ car cards were created in-house and photographed by the SFMTA photographer. Five-hundred cards were produced of each of the two versions for a total printing cost of $2072. The car cards are posted on Muni vehicles at no cost as part of the SFMTA’s agreement with its vendor, Titan.
Okay, a lot more info than what I asked for and I've never noticed the lack of ID tags on Muni drivers, but I sure have been aware of how other public servants such as police officers and fire fighters have their full names on their badges or name tags. I bet some of them would like to have their privacy protected but give up that privilege in exchange for a City job.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose did me a favor explaining how to ID an operator via a cap number. My experiences lately with Muni drivers have been normal, in that I have to motion for them to lower the front-end so I can load my bike onto the rack and most of them say "you're welcome" when I board and thank them.

I have bigger issues with SF MTA management and loathe the, um, free ride they're giving Google buses and other luxury coaches clogging our dense streets, how those vehicles too often block Muni stops and the ridiculously low fee of charging those Big Tech buses a dollar a day for using City infrastructure.

That is, if the experimental plan with the $1 fee is ever implemented. We're still waiting for legal challenges to sort themselves out and City Hall power-brokers to devise a way better fee schedule for the tech giants, who aren't in the poor house.

Every day I can get around the city with my bike and not have to ride Muni is a good day.

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