Eugenia Chien has been eavesdropping on the 47, 49, or 1 lines since the mid-90's. She lives by the adage, "Anything can happen on Muni" (and also, "That's not water.")
You can tell a lot about a system by how it adapts to failure.
I live in SF, I use both BART and Muni regularly. When they work, they’re decent. When things go wrong, it’s an N Judah-flavored apocalypse. If you’ve got an alternate, you take it. If not, you get a cab or walk. It’s a decent bus town, there’s usually a bus a few blocks away. It’ll probably show up within half an hour, and it’ll get you within half a mile, and it’s probably a nice walk anyway. Unless you’re trying to get back to the Sunset, in which case it’s more like a mile and the walk might be foggy. But anyway, there’s half a dozen good noodle places on the way, and you can bitch on your blog later if you swing thataway.
The last week, though, I’ve been staying in Zurich, and using the SVV tram system a lot. Let’s set aside incidentals like perfect adherence to schedule and good coverage and accurate ETA signs. The other day something melted down on the 11 Auzelg/Rehalp line, which runs roughly north/south along the eastern edge of central Zurich. Residential stuff out on the far-northern Auzelg end, shopping and S-Bahn connections a bit closer in, restaurants and bars towards the middle, and gradually more suburban and residential down South towards Rehalp. The nearest analog in SF would probably be the N-Judah or K-Ingleside.
Muni hasn’t gotten any better with providing enough transportation for big events. After last night’s Outside Lands show, Muni was jammed. As with Bay to Breakers and any Giants’ game, Muni couldn’t keep up with the crowd overflow. At least three full buses passed me without stopping. Meanwhile, people continued to flock the stops.
Muni promised extra services on the 5, 71, and N lines for the three-day event. To see the full pre- and post-concert travel schedule, including tips for best stops, visit MTA’s Outside Lands page. But there’s really no bother. I ended up walking three miles to get home.
If you’re going to the concert, the best way to travel is by bike.
You know what makes me sad? Seeing those pairs of iron trolley rails on various city streets and discovering that they don’t go anywhere.
For example, at the Transbay Terminal — there’s a set of Muni trolley rails on the bus pad. Follow them with your eyes to Fremont Street, only to find they’ve been paved over. Nobody’s using those anymore.
While there are still a number of remnants like that above ground throughout The City, I’ll bet there’s plenty more that have been torn up and/or buried under asphalt.
When I went to the Railway Museum, I learned that the city used to have many, many more trolley lines, but with time most of them were replaced with buses. I find the trolleys so much more pleasant than buses. Drivers get out of their way more often. They don’t wallow back and forth and make you seasick. And, for some reason, they seem less smelly and more enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I’m a rail freak, you never know, but part of me wishes they’d go back to more trolleys, fewer buses.
At any rate, I don’t have a comprehensive mental map of all those rail-bits I’ve seen all over The City. But I get excited when I spot them, and then feel deflated when I realize that that 100 feet of track are all that remain of someone’s daily commuter route, or perhaps the first streetcar ride they ever took in San Francisco.
— Beth W.
Beth is a reporter and author. And rail junkie.
I had a surprisingly pleasant Muni experience on the way to work yesterday, only because it went beyond my expectations. As I believe I’ve said before, I have a good Muni location, I walk down from the Lower Haight to Church and Duboce, give a quick glance for any incoming N-Judahs or J-Churches, and if I don’t see one, I continue down to Church Street Station and try my luck at an L, M or the dreaded K/T whatever the hell it is. I say dreaded because it is usually only one car, and even though it technically begins just one station away at Castro Street, it is usually packed to the gills. I guess that’s because it’s also a K, and has come all the way from Balboa Street Station. Anyway, when I got down to Church Street Station on Monday I was immediately disheartened because on the incoming train monitor I saw a one-car K was the only train coming. I said to myself, “I guess I’ll be standing all nice and intimate all the way to Powell Street today.” But, I was wrong, for the first time ever on my way to work and since the T was introduced, the train was sparsely populated, well air-conditioned and hauled ass downtown. Just want to give Muni props, that although it seems like you can and should only expect the worst, sometimes Muni doesn’t screw you. You have to enjoy it when it happens.
Rob Nagle works at a free San Francisco daily newspaper that has been sprucing up its Web presence.
While waiting for the 38-Geary at the end of a beautiful sunny day, a young man with a professional-looking (read: big lens! Nikon neck strap! Looks professional to me!) camera complimented me on my sandals. Little did he know that I overspent on these snappy little gold shoes and am constantly justifying to myself about their existence in my closet.
Thank you, photographer guy! You made my day, and when I got home and logged onto my computer, I found that the same pair of sandals is now on sale in a different color. Guess what I bought?
– Eugenia, helping the American economy, one pair of shoes at a time.
A Muni ride puts you in much closer proximity with our city’s less fortunate – instead of just walking over yet another homeless person huddled in a blanket or ignoring yet another outstretched hand for spare change, a Muni ride makes you look at people in the eye. Or does it?
I was on the 38-Geary on Sunday when a older man wearing a trench coat got onboard. He sat across from a toddler bouncing on her mom’s lap, and the next thing I know, the man started singing a pretty, soulful tune to the little girl. “The girl of my dreams…ain’t no mountain too high…nothing can keep us apart.” “You know what I’m talking about,” he says to no one in particular.
He rambles on and tells the bus that his name is Fillmore Holmes (“That’s right. That’s my real name.”) and sings right in front of Virgin Records downtown. “My last show is on August 23! Are y’all going to come see me at my last show?”