Japan says goodbye to beloved ‘stationmaster cat’


Tama, the calico “stationmaster cat”  who single-handedly single-pawedly brought a Japanese railway line back from the brink of financial collapse, has died.

According to The Telegraph, Tama had climbed the ranks to become president of the Wakayama Electric Railway and was 16 years old at the time of her death. When she was first appointed stationmaster of the rural Kishi Station in Wakayama in 2007, the railway line was struggling and the station had laid off its last human employee.

Tama, who could be spotted walking through the station wearing a tiny railway cap, soon drew crowds, boosting ridership on the line by 55,000 and adding 1.1 billion yen to the local economy.

Railway officials held a shinto-style funeral for Tama at the station over the weekend that drew thousands, notes The Guardian, which says she will be laid to rest at a nearby shrine for cats. Despite the sad news, Kishi station will also continue to have a feline presence. Tama will be succeeded by her apprentice, a calico named Nitana.

Photo by AFP/Getty

Whee! New UCSF rooms let kids imagine they’re riding a cable car


Getting an MRI, which scans the body to help detect medical problems or diseases, can be a claustrophobic experience. Or as friend of Muni Diaries Erich puts it “it’s like getting stuffed inside a toilet paper tube”—with thumps.

To make the experience more pleasant—for kids in particular—the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay has created MRI suites with different Bay Area themes that feature murals, music, sound effects, and even images projected on the inside of the machine. Our favorite, for obvious reasons, simulates a cable car ride, letting kids imagine they are zipping down a big hill.

Making kids feel more comfortable can eliminate the need for sedation or anesthesia, according to a UCSF article that explains more about the MRI suites.

Pretty cool, we think, but it does beg the question: Who’d have ever thought public transit could calm somebody down?

Elderly woman beaten after exiting Muni bus in Chinatown

chinatown bus attack victim
Police are asking for your help in finding the assailant who attacked an elderly woman as she got off a bus in Chinatown last week. The victim’s granddaughter is also posting on social media, hoping to find the attacker who struck her grandmother on Mother’s Day, ABC7 reports.

According to police, the 77-year-old victim was struck at least twice in the head as she was getting off a Muni bus in the Chinatown area on May 10. The assault occurred sometime between noon and 2:30 p.m., possibly on Stockton Street, and the victim remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. According to police reports, the suspect was described to be a black female.

The victim’s family has agreed to release these photos to the public in hopes of finding the attacker.

Investigators believe a Good Samaritan led the injured woman away from the side of the bus after the attack and helped her sit down on the sidewalk. Police would like to talk to him or anyone else who may have witnessed the crime.

The victim is a frequent rider of the 2 Clement, 3 Jackson, 30 Stockton and the 45 Union/ Stockton lines, and often travels between the Japantown and the Chinatown.

If you have any information, email Sergeant Trevor Kelly at Trevor.Kelly@sfgov.org, the Anonymous Tip Line at (415) 575-4444.

Private bus service Leap Transit shut down by state


Turns out Muni isn’t that easy to avoid.

After determining it was operating without the proper license, the California Public Utilities Commission has shut down private bus service Leap Transit, the pay-per-ride service that ferries commuters between the Marina and the Financial District allowing them to bypass the crowds and ickiness of Muni.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Leap had been granted its “authority to operate,” but didn’t yet have the proper license to run the bus line. Leap announced Tuesday that it has suspended its service after the CPUC sent the company a cease-and-desist letter.

The article cited a post on Leap’s Facebook page in which the company said it hopes to be “back on the road in no time.”

leap facebook update

In the meantime Leap customers, guess we’ll be seeing you all on the bus.

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