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.")
It’s very popular (and, admittedly, very easy) to bag on Muni’s faults — there are so many of them. However, I am often a huge fan of the trolley/streetcar lines, especially the underground tunnels and the restored fleet of streetcars that run along the F-Market line.
Even though they are technically only used on that line, I’ve seen them toodling down the J-Church line. Since they’re always empty, I assumed they always dumped the passengers off at some point and then just went down to Balboa Park to turn around.
Yesterday, after paying a visit to the San Francisco Railway Museum, where they encourage you to go out and see the streetcars and view them as “museums in motion,” we hopped on an F train and intended to ride it to Church St. and transfer to the J. We sat in the comfy leather seats and I read the information placard on the train that explained it was the 1055, a restored car from Philadelphia, originally painted green/cream/red.
This is something that’s been on my chest for four years. Four years! I used to ride the 44 line religiously each day at the start and end of my very, very long commute to Mountain View. I even dedicated a personal journal to the 44 just to vent my frustration in a positive way. So I figured I’d share my woes with you guys on Muni Diaries.
For those of you who still ride the 44, I hope the line has improved its on-time performance. It really couldn’t have gotten much worse. The 20-minute interval between buses as displayed on the Muni schedule is a bunch of packed-in crap. Just writing all this now takes me back to the days when I’d wait and wait and wait for the bus, sharing my angst with fellow Muni goers. I guess you could say that the 44’s habitual inconsistencies brought the community together. But I’d rather engage with fellow San Franciscans at an antique show at the Cow Palace than stand around talking about how long we’d all been waiting for the bus. And I hate antiques.
I decided to play Muni races today — the 5 against the 21. I’m fairly certain that the 5 line outmaneuvers and outruns the 21. (The block-to-block stops on the 21 draws this conclusion.) But the 5 stops about three streets farther from my final destination (Ashbury and Fell), which is why I always opt for the 21 — pure laziness. But the question was: Could I overtake the 21 on foot once the 5 dropped me at my destination? This was something I’d pathetically pondered more times than a sane person should.
As I waited for the bus on Market and Second, I saw my shot to answer this ever-nagging question. Just behind the approaching 5 poked a 21 — back to back. They both came to a stop. So I decided to test my theory, and hopped onto the 5. After we loaded and left, I watched the 21 out of the rear window until the two buses made the split near Seventh street. The race was on.