Obituary: 26-Valencia, ‘The Rich Man’s 14-Mission’

Continuing in today’s tradition of honoring the soon-to-be-departed 26-Valencia, here are five more poignant tributes we received:

RIP 26-Valencia by friscolex

O, 26. Your valiant tenure was at its peak in my high school days. Shuttling me to my boyfriend’s house so I could sneak in a smooch session before class, zipping me to the 23-Monterey so I wouldn’t have to walk at all on my way to school, always providing an alternative to the 14-Mission when very important Thrifttown trips were to be made; these are but a few of your to-be-sorely-missed accomplishments.

Could that have been more than ten years ago? Could they really be selling you to the glue factory? Could Muni really be so cruel as to choose you for the guillotine a few months after I moved to within 100 feet of your glorious bus stop? Sadly, the answer is yes. And so, oh 26, rest in peace.

The 26 Valencia by Alyssa

When I was in sixth grade at Everett Middle School on 18th and Church, my parents let me ride the bus home after school by myself. You would think I would be elated to be given this new freedom, but alas, I was terrified. Everett is only one block from Mission High School, and when my friends and I got on the J Church heading south, we knew some sort of bullying and smack-talking was about to go down. Us girls got off a little easier than our male counterparts. Those little blond boys might as well had targets tattooed on their foreheads. But I developed a confident strut to try to dissuade any high-school kids from messing with little me.

My fear made it so I only wanted to ride the bus home when I was accompanied by friends. You know, the ol’ safety-in-numbers theory. But my friends all got off the J before me, as they lived in Noe Valley or Eureka Valley or Bernal Heights. I had to ride the train all the way to the Glen Park stop, which was and still is in the middle of the freeway essentially, on a deserted concrete island between the whizzing cars on San Jose Avenue. If I had to get off at that stop alone, I literally sprinted up the stairs to the safety of the overpass, imagining I was just missing the grasps of Mission High thugs or the people who lived under the freeway.

What does this have to do with the 26, you ask? The 26 was my safety net. I could avoid all the aforementioned stress if I got off the J at 30th and Church, with the safety of Supercuts and the produce market nearby. From there I would wait…and wait…and wait…for the 26 to turn off Mission onto 30th and turn onto Chenery and take me safely and soundly home to the Glen Park of yore, with Diamond Super and Sunset Pizza. The moment I would start walking up Chenery instead because it was taking too long, it of course roared by me…damn 26! I don’t remember the last time I set foot on that bus, but it will always bring to mind that sigh of relief, that last leg of the journey before making it home in one piece.

Ode to the 26 by D@n Shick

I don’t know why I’m so sad about the loss of the 26-Valencia. I haven’t ridden it regularly in well over a decade; when I did ride it, it was unreliable, annoying to the many Valencia St. pedestrians, and frequently detoured; it’s a remarkably redundant route; and I’d much rather ride BART to Glen Park these days anyway.

Yet I am sad. I remember riding it home to my several awesome apartments on and near Valencia during the early &and mid-’90s from my summer temp jobs downtown or in Civic Center. It was my special bus that teleported me home and allowed me to avoid Mission Street. I rode it up and down Valencia when I had a Fast Pass and was too lazy, or needed coffee too badly, to walk to Muddy’s.

When I discovered that it went to the old Mint, it was the moment at which I felt like a real resident of San Francisco, and reading Cometbus on that ride home was imbued with a special magic that I still think of when I see new issues.

I’ll never forget how the 26 made me feel like a grown-up. I’ll miss ya, ya stupid bus.

R.I.P. 26 Valencia by Tony

Here is an outbound morning commute shot of the 26 Valencia approaching the 14th and Valencia Stop. You will be missed eventhough, I ended up walking many times, since the wait was sometimes inexcusable.

2009-12-04 08.41.48

And lastly, 26-Valencia, I didn’t love you enough by Jeff (me)

Could it be that the 26-Valencia was one rider away from being pardoned? Could that rider have been me?

I’ve lived a half-block from Valencia for well more than six years now, yet I can count the number of times I’ve ridden the 26-Valencia on 1.5 hands. It’s almost always a foggy ride, not due to the weather, but more to how much liquor I’ve imbibed. Or sometimes, it was simply the amount of warm pizza in me, and with the wind-chill factor factored in, and the randomness of a 26-Valencia magically showing up to cart my friends and loved ones on down the avenue to the safety and warmth of our homes …

I could cry.

26-Valencia, I did not do you right in our years near each other. For that, I am sorry. I hope that MTA does not close the book on you forever. You deserve resurrection someday, perhaps as a light-rail route.

A boy can dream, can’t he?

For the meantime, 26-Valencia, I wish you the most peaceful passing one can hope for a bus route. You will be missed, especially on those nights when I have no choice but to hoof it all … okay, all nine blocks of Valencia. If MTA leaves any stops or shelters in your wake, I vow to pay homage to them each time I encounter them.

Rest in peace.

There you have it. That’s the last of our obituaries, for now at least. Some more might trickle in, once the loss is realized starting next week. Meantime, check out California Beat’s obituary for the 26-Valencia, which can be found here. Spots Unknown has great photos of the old 26 streetcar. And here’s Mission Loc@l’s shout-out to the Valencia chariot.

Relaxing on the 26
This and top photo by Flickr user Noelster from the photoset Tribute to the 26-Valencia

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