Excuse me, fellow passenger

Question: Do you really have to cut your fingernails on the bus? Are you really that strapped for time at home that you grab your nail clipper and say to yourself, “Well, I can always finish clipping my nails on the bus”? I know the bus or train can be boring, and one of the benefits of public transportation is that you don’t have to concentrate on driving, so you can read the paper or a book, listen to music on headphones, eat your Popeye’s and drink your coffee, oh, and/or cut your nails. Don’t you think some people might be grossed out by that? Thankfully, I’ve never seen anyone cut their toenails on Muni, but I don’t doubt I will someday. First the fingernails, then the toes, what’s next? Don’t you see? It’s only a matter of time before someone brings a bucket of water and some shampoo and washes their hair just so they can use their Muni time “productively.” Fingernail clippings have a tendency to shoot in all directions, too. Don’t you know that? I don’t know, it just bugs me. Clip your nails at home, or go to a nail salon.

Rob Nagle is a designer and copy editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He clips his nails at home, in his bathroom, over a waist basket, in private.

Loud and Proud

Even though we all know well and good that NextMuni is kind of a joke (as is txtmuni, which completely ignored my cries for help this morning and refused to tell me when my 2-Clement was coming until a half-hour later), I spied this nifty item at the 38/38L stop at Geary and Divisadero Friday, for buses headed downtown. I didn’t push the button, but somebody did, because it kept rattling off arrival times every few minutes and even told us when the bus was actually arriving.

Considering that one of my top gripes about Muni is how many buses don’t play the audio signals telling people what the next stop is, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

— Beth W.

Not Your Papa’s 511.org

While I’m talking about potentially nifty things, I went to 511’s trip planner Friday and discovered it’s been completely revamped. Now, rather than telling you one route it thinks might suit your needs, it gives you several (it listed four for the trip I needed to make this morning), with descriptions on how long each one will take, how much walking it involves, whether it’s all buses, buses and trolleys, buses and BART, or whatever other combination might work. Of course, it still has the flaw that it’s not connect to NextMuni and has zero clue whether each mode of transit is going to show up on time, but at least someone at 511 figured out that riders might want options — say, to avoid certain routes or certain parts of the city. About time.

— Beth W.

Is ‘Muni Operator’ the worst job in SF?

It sure seems so.

From the short-tempered 31-Balboa driver this morning, who apparently doesn’t field questions, to the downright defensive lady who I have to assume was training my 49-Van Ness driver just now, Muni drivers give the impression that they’d rather be mopping floors and flipping burgers.

In my latest incident, I watched as we approached the stop before mine as an elderly man kept yanking the stop-request cord. I almost asked him politely to stop, but then I noticed why he was so aggressive: The stop-requested indicator wasn’t lighting up. The trainee driver, despite seeing the man and his friends stand up in anticipation of the stop, breezed on by 19th Street at a moderate clip. It was only when the cadre of senior citizens raised their voices that she stopped, just past the striped-off bus stop.

Not wanting to take any chances, I stood up as soon as she started going again, knowing that my stop was a mere block away. I pressed the red stop button located on that bar by the doors, to no avail. I tried pulling the cord on the side opposite where the old guy pulled his. Again, nothing. But this time the driver stopped at the actual stop, to my relief.

Still, a faulty stop-request system is something perfectly reasonable to make the operators aware of. So as we stopped, I told both the trainer and the trainee that the cords on both sides weren’t working, and neither was the button. Boy, was I in for it.

“WE KNOW ABOUT IT UP HERE, THAT’S OUR JOB. BLAH BLAH BLAH, YADDA YADDA.”

All I could do in the face of such angry defensiveness was simply say, “Okay, thank you. Have a good day,” and of course, deboard.

Question: Why run incomplete routes?

More than once now, I’ve boarded a 31-Balboa inbound on a weekday around 9 a.m. only to be let out at Masonic.

When it happened just now, I asked the driver, who was clearly pissed at my question. “It’s the schedule, dude. Call Muni and complain.”

Hmm, more on that later. For now, anyone wanna guess (or impart wisdom) as to why they’d do this? When it’s happened to me, the next inbound bus is just a few minutes behind. I can’t make any sense of it.

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