Casual Complaint on F Ridership Protocol, If There Is Any

Another installment in the continuing saga of WT(F)

An enormous field trip gets on the F at Market and Main, like they often do.

A kid observes that the driver is annoyed because, “We took up the whole bus.”

Well, sort of. More like the whole bus is annoyed that you all packed on during rush hour.

In my perfect Muniverse, field trips, like bikes on BART, would not be allowed on the buses, especially the tiny little streetcars, during rush hour. I think they can do something awesomely educational while they wait for go time.

Thoughts? I swear its not just the cranky post-vacationer speaking here.


  • Whit

    You’re not the only one bothered by large school groups! What’s even worse is during the summer, when camp groups (including kindergartners and unchaperoned teenage ballerina wanna be’s) hop on the 5 and 21 during rush hour, constantly bumping off commuters and creating major challenges in getting (mainly) to and from work. I thought there used to be some sort of policy about notifying MUNI if you had large school groups (for one day or three months) that would be commandeering vehicles. Is this not the case anymore? Or does MUNI just not care?

  • K

    WAH! At least they are paying fares. Would you feel the same way if it a group of tourists boarded the bus or streetcar?

    I’d rather sit on a packed bus with field trip kids vs an F or 38 packed with fare jumpers or high schoolers with paint pens.

  • Large groups in general on an already-packed mode of transportation seems like a bad idea. I think I agree with Whit on that (if it’s not already or was at some point) it should be protocol to notify people when you’re using public transit during rush hour as a school bus. And this isn’t to knock field-trippers, either; god knows how those happy little buses we’d take on our own field trips are probably the first things knocked off the school budget these days. There just has to be a better way to handle that fact of city transportation life.

    Groups of children I find are definitely tougher to deal with than groups of tourists (which often get on the streetcar also). They’re just not as much blind oblivion/entitlement/inability to hold on/screaming, it seems.

  • eltejano

    I came on to type a similar comment to Whit’s.
    I don’t ride it that often, but coworkers in my office (and other workers in this building) go so far as to change their schedules/rides to avoid them

    The Ballerinas on 5 should be it’s own story on MuniDiaries…

    You could lay the groundwork now by asking the ballet school for an interview and ask them what their plans are for the summer to avoid scheduling their classes during rush hour are… (they won’t have any, but it’d be fun to do)

    and I agree w/ K – I’d rather ride a full F car than the paint-pen wielding truants on the other lines

  • @eltejano: i’m unfamiliar with the ballerinas on the 5-Fulton. can you send in a diary about them, or just respond here in the comments? i actually like the sound of that: The Ballerinas on 5.

  • I’d rather have a large group that pays and all gets on/off at the same stop, even though it is often a lesson in patience… Especially if its a tourist group who doesn’t know Muni etiquette. But it does seem like school groups should ride during low-traffic times of day. It would be better for everyone involved. So basically, I agree with the rest of you all!

  • I remember Muni used to set aside the fleet for School/Charter buses? What happened, are Muni abandoning their other way of making a profit (like $300/day)?

  • Whit

    Actually, there are two or three ballet schools that house their students at USF during the summer. All of these summer programs have their students ride the 5-Fulton and 21-Hayes back and forth. The kids carry huge bags (sometimes two) filled with dance shoes, clothes, food, etc., and they never seem very aware of the non-dancers riding the bus. I once asked the Alonzo King dance school if they were going to change their process, but they didn’t seem to have an alternate solution in mind.

  • Muni has been SFUSD’s de-facto school buses at least as long as I’ve been alive. Urban school districts who can’t even afford teachers don’t get “happy little buses” for field trips or otherwise. Large groups of kids are irritating and boisterous and a pain during rush hour, but they’re citizens; don’t they have the right to use a public utility in the same way we all do? Why do we feel entitled to decide who gets to ride the bus and when? Because we’re white and professional and therefore better users of the system? That’s gross.

    The ballerinas on the 5 are adorable, and methinks you dudes doth protest too much. Are you really so menaced by a group of wafer-thin giggling 14 year old girls in bun hairdos and skinny jeans, or is it just that you can’t keep from staring??

  • As a non-white, albeit professional user of the system, I balk at the suggestion (and please correct me if that’s not the intentional suggestion) that encouraging some kind of protocol is akin to banning kids and otherwise underprivileged groups from public transit.

    A sense of entitlement in any group (whether it’s a school group, a conference, or a tourist group) is not good; it’s even worse than a sense of entitlement within individuals, because your power in numbers negatively impacts people that much more.

    To me, filling a bus or train with 30 kids during commute hour seems like it starts to go that way. Timing field trips so they don’t impede the commute (as BART does with bikes during commute hours), or some kind of protocol (ensuring that protocol is followed properly is another story altogether) seems like it’s in order; if only to make sure everyone, including field trippers, get a fair shake at using the public transit their parents paid for with their tax money.

  • ummm

    My partner is a school teacher. He would often have to take large groups of kids on field trips on Muni. Most of the time it would be in the middle of the day, but if a speaker was giving a lecture first thing in the morning, they were mixed in with the commuters. Granted most of his kids were well behaved, but 30 kids is 30 kids. However, they had one incident where three buses in a row refused to stop for them despite only being half full – each driver shaking their head at them. So, since it was clear that kids were not welcome on Muni, the parents got together and arranged a carpool. Instead of the kids riding supervised on public transit, Muni’s unwelcome posture (echoed by many of the comments here) the kids now all ride in eight private cars, filling our streets with more car trips. Great job Muni!

    Here is the deal. The kids are going on a field trip whether we like it or not. Telling them to rent a bus for the day at $600 is not an option. So, they will get there however they can.

  • @ummm…you raise some very interesting points, particularly about drivers considering groups of field-trippers persona non-grata on transit. That’s certainly not acceptable, which is why the point about “reserving” a bus (or at least telling Muni that you’d like to use one at x time at x stop on x day) seemed like a good first step to me. Of course, this is all dependent upon Muni accepting this arrangement as necessary and fair.

    They’re going to use transit, of course, as $600 for a bus just isn’t going to happen. But the issue of determining what’s fair for all users of the system still remains, I think.

  • @ummm: also, timing is an issue for sure. If a lecture happens at 9 a.m., there’s just no other way around that, you’re right.

  • I would love to see the Muni Diaries post about the MTA hearing In Which We Discover SFUSD is “Reserving” Buses in the Morning And That’s Why Your Bus to Work Didn’t Show Up. P.S. Guess How Much Overtime This Is Costing Us!?

    Requesting that one particular group please kindly step out of your way during certain hours isn’t demonstrating an understanding of how public utilities work, regardless of whether or not it’s elitist. And you’ll have to forgive the bias, considering many of the posts here focus on who is being too ugly, loud, fat, or smelly for the author’s comfort in the public space on Muni which (gasp!) doesn’t function as a personal chauffeur a great deal of the time! Where, oh where is the accountability?

    Banning bikes on BART is similarly shortsighted, considering it’s one of the few multimodal forms of regional transit (read: driving alternatives) in the Bay Area that has functioned effectively and cheaply for decades. Sharing is the fundamental principle here.

  • @megan:
    No one said we had to ban the bikes entirely from BART (nor do I think that’s a good idea at all, in fact), just as no one said we should ban the field-trip kids. I was simply advocating a similar BART policy during *commute hours*. It was also a call for a solution to what would be best for all; I hope that’s been made clear in the comments.

    I think we do agree on something: sharing is the fundamental principle.

    However, I suppose a fundamental disagreement we have is whether the field-trip issue is a problem in the first place, and, if it is a problem, whether there is a solution to it (you didn’t seem to approve of the first off-the-cuff suggestion, but there could certainly be some kind of solution if everyone put their heads together).

    Also wondering which posts in particular you’re referring to about the ugly/fat/loud/smelly annoyances? We do have a handful of those, I’m sure, though I’d argue that they don’t compose the majority of our posts. We do continue to take Muni after all, not just because we’re gluttons for punishment, not just because we have to, but because we actually enjoy, or at least find interesting, all parts of urban life.

    In other words, it seems to me that we editors, and our contributors, are more amused than annoyed by the wackier elements of our urban transit system, something I venture to say we can both agree is part of what makes life interesting around here. Having someone yell at you on the bus or speak nonsensically about their imaginary pet rabbit is, regardless of where you live or how much money you make, an interesting part of someone’s day, I have to say. An observation of such isn’t necessarily a call for the yuppie-led blandification of San Francisco.

    But yes, I am annoyed when the bus doesn’t show up, when teenagers tag the bus, and when people talk on their phones on the bus. These things I will take to my grave.

    Safety issues (i.e. the diary about a fight on the 49) are exactly that, though: safety issues. It, along with many of these things we’re talking about, are facts of urban life, but that doesn’t mean that we should condone disrespect in any form in a shared (again the magic word) mode of transportation.

  • Angie

    What is “rush hour” in SF? My 2nd grader has gone on numerous field trips with his class on Muni (usually the N) but never before 9:30am. The morning rush hour on Muni seems to be 7:00 – noon. The “rush hour” is continuous on lines that serve CCSF and SFSU when school is in session.

    • Let’s define rush hour the way BART does now; 9 a.m. is the end of the morning rush, and 6 p.m. is the end of the evening rush. I don’t know when they start for either agency.

      After 9 a.m., not counting the occasional field trips, the F car is actually pretty manageable. Before 9 a.m. or right at 9, there are early-bird Alcatraz tourists, commuters, *and* field trips. Annoying ride for all involved, so it still seems worthy of further discussion.

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