Muni driver calls passenger ‘retarded’

Six Parnassus
Photo by Thomas Hawk

Wow. We received the following story from Muni rider Christine on Wednesday, and really don’t know what to say. Sometimes, you think you’ve seen or heard it all … Also, the infraction in question (running a red light) resembles a situation from just a few weeks ago. Remember when the 19-Polk ran a stop sign and crashed into a truck that had also run a stop sign? For the sake of us all, drivers, obey traffic rules. Pretty please?

Oh, and stop calling passengers names! Right now!

I generally don’t go looking for trouble. I’m just your average cranky lady trying to get home after work on Muni. But then …

I was riding the No. 6 Parnassus about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 when a woman passenger pointed out to the driver that he was running a red light while turning off of Judah onto 9th Ave.

He told her: “It’s none of your business.” She said: “I’m riding this bus, so it’s my business.” And got off the bus. He called out after her: “You’re retarded!” Another passenger on the bus got into the act and shouted “Retarded bitch!” out the window at the woman.

My stop was a few blocks later, and after pulling the cord, I went up to the driver. “What is your driver number?” I asked. He pointed to the number of the bus: 5469. “No, that’s the bus number. Is that your number on your sleeve: 2725?” He nodded. I said: “Perhaps you’d like to call me retarded.” “She was rude,” said the driver. “You have no right to call a passenger retarded even if you think she’s rude or out of line,” I said.

“If you’re rude to me, I’m gonna call you retarded,” he said, raising his voice. “Go on, be rude!” I just got off the bus. “You’re not worth it,” I snapped.

Good heavens, is this what my family is paying $135 in monthly fast passes for? And the SFMTA has the nerve to propose more service cuts and fare increases? I’m filing a complaint to Muni, although I doubt it will do anything.


  1. JimmyD

    I hope this person pursues action against this rude driver.
    I see MUNI drivers violate the traffic laws daily. They need a better screening process for drivers.

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  2. Akit

    Muni did install DriveCam, right? I wonder if they can release the videos, just like the time the videos were released for that 19 Polk accident.

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  3. Noah

    This is obviously offensive, but what does it have to do with “service cuts and fare increases?” I fail to understand the rationale that says, in effect,”If drivers are rude, Muni should not try to balance its budget.” Good job, Muni Diaries, way to post a random Muni rider’s reactionary bs.

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    • jeff

      Noah, we post things like this and let our readers respond. That’s kinda, like, the whole point of the site. Read, react, share, etc. Now maybe Catherine can respond to your criticism of her reaction. Sorry if we’ve offended your sensibilities.

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      • Noah

        fair enough Jeff. I should have kept my criticisms to the author and not blamed Muni diaries for its democratic posting policy. I stand by my criticism of the totally irrational conflation of rude drivers and a balanced budget.

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  4. Mike

    Noah,

    I think that most people would agree that safety should be part of the basic level of service that Muni should provide, and that having drivers that routinely violate traffic laws and safety procedures call into question Muni administration, including the budget. I also think that most would agree that another part of the basic level of service is a minimum level of respect for fellow human beings, and Muni’s tendency to hire drivers that fail to show this level of respect also calls into question Muni’s administrative abilities, including their ability to provide a basic level of service regardless of the money thrown at them.

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    • Noah

      No argument here, Mike, although I think the vast majority of Muni drivers are just fine. Regardless of their hiring decisions, I still think Muni should try to balance it’s budget. At least in the short term, service cuts and/or fare increases are the only way to do that. I still fail to understand how a rude driver justifies the position that fare increases or service cuts are unjustifiable.

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      • S'qisha

        noah, people have stopped riding the buses because of the behavior of the drivers. when you know that you could be assaulted verbally or physically be a bus driver, when you know that you have great risk of being in an accident because of the poor driving of the muni drivers then people don’t take the bus. without the rider’s fares, there are budgetg gaps. it’s pretty darn based.

        The largest increase in the muni cost have been from the lawsuits from damages muni drivers have caused. If you don’t have muni drivers running red lights and killing people then you wouldn’t have to pay millions of dollars in damages. this rude driver was also driving unsafe and will surely keep on doing so because there are no consequence to the drivers when they violate the law only for those of us who have to pay the fare and pay our taxes.

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  5. CAK

    This is crazy defamation. I would get a law firm involved.

    Also, I don’t care so much about a balanced budget. Money is just a made-up convention anyway. Safety, however, is for real, and words can cut just as deeply as glass from the windshield of a Muni bus that’s just ran a red light.

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  6. S'qisha

    I love that pointing out that a driver has just volated the law is considered rude. Muni drivers have only one job, drive a bus safely. This driver couldn’t even do that. If every Muni driver who volated the law was actually given fines they personally had to pay for you can bet they would suddenly start driving better. If every one of them was docked a day of pay for harassing the people that pay their saleries (the riders) you can bet suddenly they would be so rude. But no, instead you have a city that allows one of the biggest groups of service employees to treat they people they are providing service to like crap.

    Fire the bad drivers and hire ones that don’t get in accidents and cost the city and we would have the increased fares and all these cost from the lawsuits.

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    • muni_lover

      I love your two suggestions of fining bad drivers and docking pay for bad behavior towards legitimate customers. I also agree with what Mike said. In the end though I think it’s up to us to alert management about bad drivers who drive illegally and unsafely and/or who are unconscionably rude.

      The writer in this case did two of the best things in the world. One: get the number of the driver and report him to his bosses. And two: spread the word to anyone who’ll listen such as us.

      THEN if management ignores the reports (and there’s always more than one with drivers like in this story), then Mike’s right about mismanagement.

      Whenever I complain, Im detailed and demand a follow up response. This way I ensure that managers pull tape and watch the incident themselves instead of chuckle together with the driver by the water cooler, “Well, looks like you did it again, Hank, heh heh.”

      Truthfully, when a driver back in the day closed the front door on my fiance who was entering the bus on crutches laboriously (me still outside waiting to come in!), I was HOT. I went to their offices on Masonic and Geary, complained, demanded they pull tape, and demanded a response. Dude was rightfully disciplined.

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  7. Galia

    Sadly, I can relate all too frequently. On Wednesday, I was riding the 38L home from work (as I do every weekday), and the driver had a serious case of road rage – honking and cursing incessantly. This progressed to her suddenly breaking into song and chanting, “Lorrrd, take me home safely.” I thought the same thing, as she pulled up to my stop. Unfortunately, I failed to get up the nerve to ask for her badge number, and fear I have no way of actually filing a complaint now.

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  8. Lyle

    Am I the only one who sees the idiocy here? The driver made a mistake, it’s good you bring it up to him. But is escalating the situation really necessary, especially while he’s driving? You made your point, he made his point, you got a badge number. Everything after that caused unnecessary distraction and stress, just so you could vent? Does unnecessarily stressing out a bus driver make him drive safer?

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    • Sims

      I doubt it happened the way she said it–she just wanted to come off as Captain Righteous.

      And if it did happen that way, you’re right–she ended up making things much less safe for her fellow passengers just so she could, well, come off as Captain Righteous.

      Go ahead and call and complain, whatever, but spare us the chest-beating.

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  9. Daishin

    I would urge people who have negative experiences with MUNI employees like the woman above to report it to SFMTA on their website. I have found that if you have all the particulars about the incident, they do respond. You need time, bus number, a description of the employee and what happened. Eventually you will either get a call or an email.

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  10. Socky

    Please, please don’t upset the driver. Let him kill you first – then let your loved ones file suit against Muni.
    The more Muni allows this behavior to continue, fewer people will ride the system, decreasing revenue (even with fare hikes) and service and accountability will decrease even further. It’s a Muni death spiral.

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  11. terrance

    hello I am a muni driver I never read anything positive about drivers who wait for late people and the one s who say hello without a response were is our comadations

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