Photo by Troy Holden
A few years ago I had the coolest, surprise Muni experience on quite the groovy vintage bus on my way to work. I don’t know if any of them are still in operation, but if you’ve ever been on one unexpectedly, you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about.
It was like stepping back into the ’70s when I got on board. The seats were all covered in orange and brown woven fabric, the ceilings were low, it was dimly lit, and I swore I could smell incense wafting through the air.
It’s only happened to me once in my 8+ years of riding Muni, but it was one ride worth remembering.
I got on an old bus once and enjoyed it just as much. Dimly lit, low ceilings and -surprisingly- what seemed like MORE space in the aisles, but roughly the same number of seats. Or maybe my eyes played tricks on me.
I grew up in San Francisco in the 1970’s and at that time #3270 & it’s 389 cohorts were the bulk of Muni’s motorcoach fleet. Very cool vehicles these 390 GMC coaches were – fast,powerful & LOUD! So loud that stupid S.F. nimbys complained about their high noise levels.But I do not recall that the GMC’s were dimly lit – quite the contrary in fact. The original seats of the GMC’s were red & yellow, matching their original paint jobs when delivered in 1969 & 1970.For those who are interested the GMC Muni fleet numbers were 3000 – 3099,3100 – 3199,3200 – 3299 & 3300 – 3390.
I remember those buses, too. It was quite a change from cream and green Macks to red and yellow GMCs. Yes, they were loud, not just engine noise but turn signals as well (Macks went beep, beep, beep; while GMCs went BOOP, BOOP, BOOP). Muni GMC buses had a big V8 engine combined with a low-geared transmission to allow the bus to both climb steep hills and run fast on the freeway. They also had a big-truck style Jacobs engine compression brake (“Jake Brake”) that made the bus rumble loudly as it slowed down.