Muni Diaries Live alum Dhaya Lakshminarayanan live this Friday in Oakland

The Formula  March 27th

If for whatever you reason you missed Muni Diaries Live in November, well, two things: Our next show is right around the corner, on April 18 (tickets!).

Secondly, and the reason we’re all gathered here today, you missed out on one of the smartest, funniest comedians this side of the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I: Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. It was Dhaya whose dad become all of our collective hero when he misheard the Muni intercom to say, “Exit through the weirdos.” Yes, exactly, Mr. Lakshminarayanan.

Dhaya and some other funny ladies will dish out the laughs tomorrow night at Oakland’s XOXO Nightclub. You should totally go and laugh so hard you cry and cough stuff up.

But don’t just take our word for it. Read what the East Bay Express had to say about Dhaya, Karinda Dobbins, and Aundré Herron, and other’s comedy.

XOXO Nightclub (Tickets)
201 Broadway (Map)
8:00 PM
$10 in advance/$12 day of the show

Three Things You Should Know Before You Bitch About Muni


We love your creative, hilarious ways of talking about all things good or bad on Muni. But as responsible transit riders, what can we actually do? Our city is facing new transit alternatives (like these new ride-share buses) that can really change what life on Muni looks like. So we talked to some transit experts about what every rider can do to improve our public transportation system.

1. Why is my bus crowded and not on-time?
“One reason buses are overcrowded and not on time is because San Francisco has the oldest fleet in the country. When we should have replaced our buses, we passed, which put us in the position of holding buses together with duct tape and garbage bags,” says Ilyse Magy at the San Francisco Transit Rider Union. She says that old buses mean broken-down buses, which lead to a loss of reliability and overcrowding. San Francisco is growing faster than expected, and Muni ridership is expected to grow, too. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose says that it takes $1 million to operate and maintain each bus every year.

2. What are we doing about crowded buses?
The passage of Prop A and Prop B means that the city has more funds for Muni. SFMTA says that 112 new buses have already been added, and 121 new buses are being added this spring. In April, the SFMTA will be providing more service for over 100,000 customers on the 5L, 8X, 30X and 38L lines, according to Rose. This includes areas serviced by ride-share buses like Leap and Chariot. See our post about Muni service increases and route name changes.

But that may not be enough. Magy says that even with the passage of the $500 million bond (Prop A), “we are BILLIONS of dollars shy of the funds we need to have a truly excellent Muni.”

3. What should responsible Muni riders do to help make sure we have a public transit system that meets our needs?
Ride the bus (yay, you!). Educate yourself on transit-related issues when you vote. Geek out at Streetsblog SF‘s Muni page, our news section, or read everything Joe Eskenazi wrote about Muni. Or take a step further and join the San Francisco Transit Riders Union.

Transit issues are complicated enough to write a tome, and sometimes just bitching about it is not enough. We can all help make Muni better!

Photo by Sonny Abesamis

Muni service and route name changes coming in April


Who said Muni doesn’t fix itself? Oh, we probably said it. But never mind that!

On April 25, the changes you see above will take effect. Some involve increased service on certain lines, while the others are a shift in Muni’s nomenclature. From SFMTA’s Muni Forward website:

This April, 2015, the SFMTA is adopting the term “Rapid” for Muni’s Limited-stop routes, currently called Limited or “L” routes. The new Rapid routes will encompass all the benefits of the Limited lines, but will see significant increases in frequency and reliability in the coming months as the routes receive additional investment in transit priority improvements.

The Rapid Network
Muni Rapid bus and rail lines form the backbone of the Muni system, and include the following corridors:
J Church
L Taraval
N Judah
5 Fulton
9 San Bruno
14 Mission
28 19th Avenue
38 Geary
71 Haight Noriega
K Ingleside
M Ocean View

SFMTA is also changing the names of several routes, including the one with the BEST VIEWS of San Francisco. The 33-Stanyan will be re-christened the more-apt 33-Ashbury/18th.

So there you have it. Muni is gonna fix itself, y’all. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Photo above by Muni rider Olympia. Photo on home page by Michela

New private bus wants you to avoid the crowded 30-Stockton, Blue Bottle coffee optional

leap bus

Taking Muni used to be an equalizing experience in San Francisco, but new ride-share apps are making public transit optional for people who’d rather not stand with the masses. A new pay-per-ride service is launching in the city today, with Blue Bottle iced coffee and hipster-appropriate wood paneling as the backdrop for morning selfies. For $6 a ride, Leap buses will take commuters from the Marina to the Financial District during peak hours. The company bills itself as the “Virgin America of buses.”

The area served by Leap’s bus line has “a high concentration of people who work downtown and a high concentration smartphone users. We’re particularly interested in serving areas where it’s tough to get a seat on public transit, and surge pricing is too high for daily use,” says Kyle Kirchhoff, founder and CEO of Leap.

The launch is not Leap’s first go-around in San Francisco. The company is launching the same proposed service today, more than a year after a scathing editorial in 2013 that called Leap a “selfish disruptor.” San Francisco also has seen other private bus apps like Loup or Chariot, which has four lines and offers a $93 monthly pass.

To be fair, private jitneys like Leap, Loup, or Chariot have sometimes been the basis of our current public transit system. SFist put it best: “While this all may seem ugly and capitalist in an era when Muni needs all the help and financial support it can get, it should be noted that many of Muni’s routes were, at one time (pre-1912), run by private entrepreneurs and were only later absorbed under a single system.” So this may not be all bad news in the long run, right?

With the proliferation of these private buses, life on Muni could start to look really different, and that scares me. When we started Muni Diaries seven years ago, public transportation felt like the great equalizer. We all had to get from point A to point B, and Muni was the only viable way for most people. Taxis were unreliable, parking was inconvenient and expensive, and bicycling wasn’t always an option. As a daily commuter, I saw a cross section of San Francisco whenever I got on the bus, and I loved it. Interactions on Muni helped us learn about one another and added layers to our experience of living here.

Sure, you might complain about WTF behaviors on Muni (hello, dude gulping Franzia), but you also see moments that restore your faith in humanity. Who wouldn’t want an impromptu Happy Birthday serenade on the bus?

There were always people in San Francisco who never rode the bus because they can afford to take cabs or drive to work and pay for parking every day. But that used to be an option only for the very rich. Now there are a lot of alternatives for people who make enough money to forgo public transit altogether. With life in San Francisco looking more and more segmented, who will be left to advocate for public transportation?

Our transit problems don’t come with a simple tech solution, but I’ve seen some creative attempts like the BART Twitter forum, the SFMTA Hackathon, and of course, this year’s TransportationCamp (maybe it should be a requirement for VC’s and business school grads?).

There’s no denying that it sucks when the bus is crowded and uncomfortable. It’s highly unrealistic to say that you should ride Muni just so you can learn about humanity. There’s a market for better public transit, but does the solution have to be a smart phone app for a private bus with bar stools and Blue Bottle coffee? I should hope not.