Seeing the forest for the trees on Muni

I have been losing my shit lately. Maybe it’s an existential crisis…

Or, maybe that’s a cliché and I shouldn’t call it that. Let’s go with dear-diary moment, instead.

Like everyone who works on this site, I gravitate willfully toward wacky-on-Muni like some kind of masochist. But my perspective is skewed after one too many missed runs, NextBus fiascoes, or just plain ol’ bad timing. I’ve been catching a 47-Van Ness in the evenings, on and off for nearly three years, and it’s all pretty standard fare. But it’s been particularly bad in the evenings, as my phone now habitually returns NextBus results like “19, 29, 39 minutes” after saying 4 minutes when I first started waiting. Say what you will about who and what sucks in this scenario, but, until recently, that was unusual for me, that time, and that 47 stop at the start of the line.

I tried to self-help by first acknowledging some basic truths. I fucking hate the bus sometimes; there, I said it. But I’m not driving to work, and I’m realistically not going to walk from downtown or ride my bike every day. Cab, shmab.

Therefore: I am taking Muni to work for at least one leg, and I have to deal with it. Dealing with it doesn’t include screaming into a phone about “goddamn shitty drivers standing around doing nothing while we wait in the rain for this fucking bus to leave.” (Who was that woman?)

Yesterday, after receiving still more crappy results from NextBus, I just grabbed an F-Market/Wharves a few minutes later. And I got a seat. And…did you know streetcars are actually really pretty after dark? They’re always pretty, you say? Not at 8:50 a.m. as a commuter.

But, at night; the interior lighting is warm, unlike the unforgiving fluorescence of our standard buses. People aren’t in a hurry. Tourists take pictures as the also-lit-up Embarcadero buildings and Transamerica Pyramid come into view. You can’t see people outside that clearly, so you’re wrapped up in an almost-intimate, cozy transit cocoon, barreling along to Market Street.

How did this turn into a foufy post about the F?

Whether it happens again today, tomorrow, or next week, Muni actually managed to make me hate it and love it in less than 30 minutes. Even if/when the scale tips again toward hatred, I will still use the bus and I will still have to find these moments to keep me sane.

One comment

  • Dexter Wong

    You brought up something I noticed as Muni vehicles changed over the years, the buses of my childhood had incandecent lights which produced warm, but dim lighting. If you had a window seat it wasn’t hard too look outside at night. When the first GMC buses arrived in the late 60s, they introduced fluorscent lighting which made the interior brighter, but also made it harder to look through the windows at night. Since then, every new generation of bus has had brighter lighting making it easier to see around the bus but harder to see outside.

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