Is the F the Least-Reliable Line in Town?

Lately, it sure seems so.

Tara reports that trains let passengers out on Market near New Montgomery this morning around 9 because of a supposed power outage along the Embarcadero.

To top things off, as things go, passengers headed toward the northeast corner are pretty much screwed. No apparent extra buses sent in to help, extra passengers, cabs difficult to get.

It’s not a big city. We have a public transportation system. Why is it so hard to get around San Francisco?

The Occasional Random Niceness of … People

(Reposted, with permission, from Tony Long’s North Beach Examiner)

Legendary Chronicle columnist Herb Caen used to run what he called “Sight ’ems” — interesting little oddities he (or one of his legmen) spotted wandering around the old town. Back in Caen’s day this wouldn’t have rated a mention, it being a more civilized burg, but in 2008 I found the scene jarring:

Three tourists, all women, riding a northbound 9x-Bayshore Express, and clearly lost. They didn’t speak any English (I think that was Portuguese I was hearing, but maybe it was … well, who cares?) and the bus driver spoke nothing but English. As they chattered away at the driver, laughing and waving a map under her nose while she crossed Market and headed up Kearny, I expected to hear some very colorful English indeed.

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F the F

Some of this post is F-centric, and some of it is just rants and raves about what should be basic common sense on public transit. It’s going to be pretty clear which is which.

Muni Diaries often complains about the F. I guess Muni Diaries complains about a good handful of things, but there are special problems inherent in the F that require extra-special complaints.

I don’t know how much it cost by its unveiling in 2000 to expand the F-Market line to the wharves, but I’m sure it was expensive. It appears to have been part of a continuing effort to revamp the rails and give tourists something cute to ride on. Nonetheless, I think the city underestimates how many people, regular SF residents, use it to get to work. We use it because there is NOTHING QUICKER. It’s so freakin’ cute. It emphazies local history and I love that to bits. But it is so inefficient and slow, it makes me and the other commuters want to rip our hair out as we all fight to get on the tiny, infrequent cars.

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A streetcar named …

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.

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Bikes and Buses, Part 1

This may come as a shock to some, but I don’t ride Muni every day. I bike to work, and I walk most other places. I claim no authority at crafting the site you’re visiting, other than being witness to its birth in idea form. I mean, I ride buses and rails just like the rest of you, just maybe not as frequently.

But, like I said, I ride my bike to work, so I deal with Muni in a way I’m pretty sure many of you do: Avoiding the bus as it’s coming to KILL ME.

What I’m speaking of, specifically, is Muni buses’ proclivity toward not seeing bicycles. The phenomenon breaks down into two main categories: Pulling in front of us, or pulling out from the curb toward us.

The first I speak of happens like this: I’m riding at a moderate clip, as aware as I can be of my surroundings. I approach a traffic-lighted intersection, and as I do, WHOOSH! a bus zooms by my left side and cuts me off as it beelines toward the stop on the other side. Thanks, I think, and continue riding at a slightly slower speed, only to then encounter scenario two:

I ride past a bus that is at a stop, angled as it were with its ass pointing out. Because I’ve almost been hit by drivers who pull away from the curb before looking to see if anything is coming, I steer way too clear, looking behind me first to see … you guessed it, if anything is coming.

Two questions:

  1. Why do the buses feel the need to gun it and drive in front of bikers, whose lane they will then have to cross to get to the bus stop? Why not go ahead and start slowing down, let the bike-riders pass, then pull over?
  2. Why do almost all drivers start driving before looking? Isn’t this Rule 1 of driving anything, including a tricycle?

NextMuni: 10 minutes…1 minute…28 minutes…

I actually like the fact that NextMuni exists. It gives me something to look at in a bus shelter rather than stare at the people in it, stare at the Muni map I’ve damn-near memorized, stare off into space, or stare at my cell phone photos or text messages to keep me entertained. It also helps prevent stepping out and looking for the bus (“Is it there now…now?…NOW??”), though I still do that if it’s one minute away and I don’t see one headed my way.

Though I hear some fairly positive reviews of it (and read a handful of fairly positive reviews of it on Yelp), I kind of hate NextMuni, an apparent adjunct of NextBus. I really want to know who is responsible for it, so I know who to complain to about their irritatingly inaccurate system.

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