Freestylin’ 49, Part 2

Muni Graveyard
Photo by Flickr user DaveFayram

I hate bagging on Muni drivers, whether it’s via the relative anonymity of the interwebs, to a friend at a party, or to their faces. It accomplishes nothing, as you’re still shit out of luck even after you’ve gotten worked up, right? But I had to say something this time.

Background: I spun this yarn a few weeks ago about a 49-Van Ness/Mission that inexplicably stopped at 14th Street, instead of continuing further south like it’s supposed to. Fine. Whatever. But during each of the three times this has happened to me, news of the offbeat route was announced with an inside voice that could shame the quietest church whispers. The 49 isn’t exactly quiet, either. All signs indicated that this was indeed a 49 that went the full route.

During my charmed third time on the 49-Stops at 14th Street, the bus pulls to a stop, and the same driver (at the same time of day) opens all the doors. He steps outside the bus, walks the length of one side, and notifies people with his inside voice, “last stop…last stop…last stop.”

As 50 people stare at one another confusedly, wondering if the driver simply bailed to the gas station for a snack, I stepped outside and asked if this was the last stop. I said he needs to actually announce this to people next time, because no one can hear him. That is why 50 people are still sitting on his bus.

His response: “The PA is broken, what do you want me to do?”

Hmm.

Yes, PAs break, especially on Muni, where a lot of things break all the time. And he’s apparently driving the same broke-ass bus every time, hence the regular lack of aurally acceptable announcements. Shitty. But come on; why did he go outside, first of all, instead of walking the length of the inside of the bus?

Consider this another plea for better communication between drivers and passengers.

If you’re curious, the bus turns east on 14th Street after slowly emptying its confused load of folks.

9 comments

  • Mike

    “I hate bagging on Muni drivers, whether it’s via the relative anonymity of the interwebs, to a friend at a party, or to their faces. It accomplishes nothing, as you’re still shit out of luck even after you’ve gotten worked up, right?”

    Bullshit. The alternative is suffering in silence– THAT really accomplishes nothing. We have to file official complaints and speak out to everyone that might listen every single time, even if it is at a party. Yes, there are good drivers, but Muni as an organization is not only broken, but abuses the citizens of San Francisco every day. I have never seen a mass transit agency so inept and deeply flawed as Muni, and I’ve used mass transit all over the United States and the world. In my almost fifty years on this planet I’ve learned that the people who change things and get what they want in this world are the people who speak up loudly and often.

    • Right you are. I should clarify that I consider “bagging on the Muni drivers” as unproductive in-the-moment pissing contests about who is the bigger asshole at that particular moment.

      Reasoned complaints about the sad state of Muni to the appropriate people are a much better avenue, I would say. SF certainly deserves better.

      • Mike

        I apologize for being a little harsh in my comment.

        I hope Supervisor Elsbernd is successful in gathering signatures for his “proposed November ballot initiative that would remove the Muni pay provision from the City Charter and instead require transit workers to reach a pay deal through collective bargaining”:

        http://goo.gl/6dDw

  • From the sounds of things, this low-talker wouldn’t be helped much by a functioning PA. Still. I don’t get why he deboarded and walked the length of the bus OUTSIDE, muttering that it was the last stop. I’m truly befuddled.

    • muni_lover

      I’ve seen all kinds of weird things between drivers and raging passengers. The driver never loses their job if they stay in their chair and almost always lose their job when they leave it and get in an altercation with a passenger.

      (Drivers have been fired for getting out of their chairs to help a passenger being victimized by a predator or group of predators! Conversely, drivers can give a righteous beat down without risking their jobs if in self defense and IF they stay in their chair- tough but doable… as it has been done)

      The only reason I can think of is that although walking outside is risky if an altercation then occurs …still, maybe he was banking that he could run away more easily if trouble came a callin.

      • Eric Miles

        Maybe if he walked INSIDE the bus he would block the way to the exits?

        What would be fun would be to report this to 311 and see how fast they ignore it.

  • Jason

    Reminds me of the inbound 38L I was on yesterday morning that stopped at the first street stop and then didn’t go anywhere. Three of us looked at each other, then went up to the driver and asked if he was going to the Transbay terminal (the next stop). He said yes, but that “I’m running early”. I don’t see why he couldn’t complete the run, so that all of us could get to our stop, then wait the extra time out at the transbay. Was he scared of something there? Bus #402, around 10:33am

  • Cub_1966

    Jason,

    The drivers will get written up if they are ahead of schedule. (I’m sure a both of you would love that). So don’t blame the driver blame management.

  • Jason

    Thanks, that is interesting. I’m not sure why you imagine I would love that, but it would have been great if the driver informed the passengers the bus was going to stop and wait instead of us waiting, wondering, then going up to ask.

    The idea that the bus being ahead of schedule on many stops, which could be verified by management using GPS data that is also publicly available, is made acceptable by a wait period to make the last stop on schedule makes me very mad at management policies. Although, the cynic in me wonders if any would notice if they aren’t already watching the previous stop’s data. That “black hole” pickup truck is only there once in a while and I don’t notice any managers peeking out of the transbay windows.

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