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.")
Now, I know that sometimes — most times I guess — our Muni stories have nothing to do with us, or choices we make. Usually we’re victims of circumstance. But sometimes, we make our own Muni stories. Before I go on, let me preface this with the fact that, rules are rules, and if some rules aren’t enforced by Muni or are just completely ignored by other Muni riders, then those situations where said rules are ignored or unenforced are just reasons to criticize Muni, am I right? Of course I am.
So, let’s get to the first two rules, first — no eating. Now, myself, I’m going to have to be pretty motherfucking hungry to even want to eat on Muni in the first place. That’s just me, I guess, because I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been subjected to nasty fast food aromas and the grease said food emanates throughout the tiny confines of your standard-issue Muni coach. Then, of course, there’s the sunflower-seed shells that coat the floor of the bus like so many expended ordnance on the battle field. Let’s not forget the other trash that is left behind that we have to kick under the seat in front of us just so we can be comfortable. OK, so, people eat on the bus, whether I like it or not, whether I do it or not, this happens, it’s against the rules, but I’ve got to live with it.
I was leaving the downtown area heading toward my apartment in the Lower Haight. This was some time ago so I don’t really remember where I was coming from, most likely I was on my way home from practicing with my old band. I was already in a bitchy mood, most likely for the amount of time I waited for a bus, but I also remember a general feeling of angst that comes over me from time to time that is usually a cumulative anger and/or depression, further compounded by waiting for a long time for Muni on a less than pleasant night. Finally, I remember, a 6-Parnassus picks me up – and perks me up. Of all lines I could get, this one would get me closest to home – one block away – and fast. Another plus – it wasn’t crowded. I get on and proceed toward the back of the bus; I certainly wouldn’t want to take a seat away from the elderly or a wheel-chair user. We proceed to the next stop, and just before I start to feel happy, I notice the loud, most likely high on crack woman board the bus. “Stay up front, stay up front,” I remember thinking, but no, to the back of the bus she comes, and she’s fired up, dancing, screaming and making a scene. This is no new situation to anyone who takes Muni, and I generally know how to deal with it – don’t make eye contact and ignore the behavior. Sometimes, if I were in a better mood, I might even have been entertained by the high woman, but not this night, I was in no mood for laughter. As she finally sits down I notice the smell, a very, very strong smell – of shit! No, ladies and gentlemen, this was no wafting fart that I couldn’t just hold my breath a bit and let pass, this was the straight up intense smell of a freshly pinched loaf, most likely nestled tightly between the crackhead’s ass and her blackened Levi’s. The smell consumed the back of the bus, you didn’t just smell it, you felt it. I was in a fog of poo, and as the smell hits, I look around – there were others in the back – and not many people seem to be noticing the smell I’m noticing. The crackhead’s sitting down but won’t shut up, and I wonder if she’s screaming to distract people from the smell. As we go another stop, I have to go to the front of the bus, old people be damned. There’s not much refuge there, but the smell is definitely less intense. Finally, others seem to smell it and an exodus toward the front begins, the crackhead’s screams intensify and I can take no more. Three blocks from my house I have to bail. As the 6 drives away, I see the people’s reaction on the back of the bus, heads in shirts, newspapers up against their faces, the looks of horror and disgust, the stampede toward the front of the bus. Never had the streets of San Francisco smelled so good. – Rob
I was on one of the Market Street buses a couple of weeks ago — the 71-Haight, I think — heading toward the Ferry Building. The bus was nearly empty and a couple of folks got off just as I hopped on. As soon as the bus doors closed, the driver turned to a young couple sitting in the elderly/disabled section and said, “Check your bags. The guy who was sitting next to you is a pickpocket. Let me know if he took anything and I’ll call the cops.”
She waited while they frantically checked their bags. Fortunately, nothing was taken and the bus wasn’t seriously delayed. But I liked that this driver was looking out for out-of-towners possibly distracted and dazzled by their unfamiliar environment.
It almost made up for the 38L driver yesterday who spent more time yelling at every single passenger than actually driving… – Beth W.
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.