What’s the Worst Cut in Muni’s Changes Tomorrow?

They want me to pay five dollars for what now?
Photo by Flickr user SF a go go

All week long we’ve been posting obituaries in memory of the lines that will go out of service tomorrow. We’ve also seen some interesting points in our comments section and inbox.

Muni Lover and Akit both expressed that they think the 38-Ocean Beach Branch is by far the worst cut in the changes coming tomorrow. Muni Lover said:

Three huge schools used that leg of that particular 38 line to get to the businesses on that part of Balboa. Just that little part of Balboa is a thriving little enclave…mainly because the lunchtime crowd from these kids spent a whole lotta money along its length. Also almost all the other changes do have alternate choices and usually several other chioces at that. (read more from this thread)

Rider Adam emailed us to ask why the cable cars seem to be “sacred cows.” Adam wrote:

Can someone explain to me why, as we approach the second round of cuts to city-wide Muni services, that the historic, tourist-filled cable cars have been unaffected?!? 

Hear me out here:  I live on Hyde St, and depend on Muni for my daily transportation (buses, like the 1 and the 12, and 28, not cable cars mind you).  Now they are drastically reducing the frequency of the buses I depend on, and yet somehow, the cable car will continue to clatter happily by my house from 6 AM – 1AM–every, single, day.  Believe me, I understand completely that it makes a ton of money during most hours at $5 a head.  And I am fully supportive of that, since it probably subsidizes the rest of Muni.  And I would have no beef if the cable cars were run from 7 or 8 AM to 11PM and were mostly full.  But believe me, for that first hour and those last two hours, I look out my window, and they ride back and forth, EVERY TEN MINUTES, completely, utterly, empty, with two bored operators texting on their phones and drinking coffee.  It’s infuriating. Such a total waste.

My question to you guys: why are the cable cars sacred cows?  Is there some separate operating agreement?  A different union?  What is it?

I asked SFMTA’s public relations officer Kristen Holland about this. She told me that the cable cars are a part of San Francisco’s Charter and have been declared a National Historic Landmark. The current service level, she says, has been codified in the City’s Charter in section 8A.114, which details where the cable cars should run. And cable car operators are in the same union as other Muni operators. So, I’m not sure if this qualified the cable cars as sacred cows per se, but I suppose being a National Historic Landmark counts for something.

What do you think is the worst cut in the service change tomorrow?


  • Mark Ballew

    Imagine if all Muni lines charged a rate that made the line profitable, or at least subsidized a matching money losing line? Yes, we’d have higher fares, but think about it: the 14 costs .80 a head, but the 26 cost 3.80 a head. For a flat $5, the 26 could have been saved and the 14 could have it’s service frequency boosted. Alas, we bitch about $2 boardings when we still have one of the best transit systems coverage-wise in the US.

  • Bob Chen

    The worst part is that while they’re getting rid of the Valencia portion of the 26 (where the bus was actually useful), they’re handing the Chenery portion (where it howls by unused) over to the 36. Wonderful.. I didn’t think they could manage to make those buses any emptier, but it looks like they found a way.

  • Erik

    Tourists riding the cable cars don’t just pay their $5 fare, they buy other stuff and stay in hotels while here. While people probably aren’t coming here *just* to ride a cable car they are probably one of the major attractions.

  • They ought to cut the 19 Polk. Only derelicts ride that bus.

  • Michael Peterson

    What’s the deal with the 17 Parkmerced?! I live out that way and the 18 and 28 are easy distance from where the 17 serves. Most /many people out here in the Lake Merced region have cars anyway. Now I do live by Lake Merced (technically in Daly City) however could they make the 18 loop around Westlake in a direction?! I mean the 14 and 28 already serves Daly City, why not the 18 too?! Just asking. 🙂

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