If you’ve ever ridden San Francisco’s MUNI system, you might have felt that it’s run by political hacks and buffoons.  You might have felt that the average MUNI worker doesn’t care about anything except getting his or her next paycheck.  But you have no experience in operating a multimodal mass transit system under a budget constraint in a challenging urban environment.  Is MUNI terrible because the people who run it are terrible, or is MUNI terrible because the problems it faces are insurmountable?

The new Muni+ app allows us to resolve this conundrum.  Here MUNI has the opportunity to build an app within the well-defined boundaries of the iOS APIs and list it in the highly curated App Store.  There are no transients, drunks, or criminals that will board the app and interfere with its operation.  The app does not require hard-to-find spare parts for buses built 40 years ago.  The budget for the app is effectively unlimited in comparison to the overall MUNI budget.  MUNI does not need to negotiate a special union contract with their app developer.  So how does MUNI do when creating a product in this pristine, controlled environment?  Can they execute in a competent manner?

No!  This app is preposterously bad.  The reviews do not do it justice; you must download it and try it for yourself (as I did).  It almost makes me think that it’s a sick prank designed to discredit MUNI, except that they actually promoted it on their own website.  Anyway, one good thing has come from this app: we now know that MUNI is truly incompetent.

Update: Replaced some links that expired with links.

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