File this under “It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better.” Construction on the Van Ness BRT (bus rapid transit) is about to start this month, changing the center two lanes on Van Ness to bus-only. One block to the east, Polk Street will also undergo construction to improve sidewalks, bike lanes, and other features. The construction is set to take place mostly during week days, so you can expect traffic congestion on both streets. And in case you make the mistake of driving on Van Ness (or just … driving), there will be no left turns.
The Van Ness Improvement project‘s dedicated transit lanes will be for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit, physically separated from “mixed traffic lanes.” There will also be new boarding islands, new traffic signals prioritizing transit, and pedestrian safety additions such as shortening crossing distances, zebra-striped sidewalks, and audible crossing signals. The SFMTA says that the Van Ness BRT “is expected to cut travel times for the 49 and 47 Muni routes by 32 percent.” Construction is expected to wrap by 2019.
ChrisO is a musician and hair stylist at Honeycomb Salon in Noe Valley who has an impressive record collection. He regaled the Muni Diaries Live crowd a few weeks ago with a story of running into someone he knew from a past life on the bus, and you’ll have to watch the video to see what he found out.
“I was taking the 19-Polk bus for the first time. In 2003, the buses that were used for the 19 line were the most florescent light-flickering, brownish yellowy interior-having, murdery buses in the whole city. They just looked like you were gonna die on them. We all get on the bus and I notice there is this guy staring at me. I thought: Is this like a “Cruising me to have sex thing, or pretending to cruise me to have sex thing so you can kill me?”
Do you have a Muni story of your own or know someone who can spin a great tale? Email us and pitch your story at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I’m guessing that Muni rider Angela is as guarded and cynical as they come. Well, almost. Maybe. Here’s her story:
As I was riding the 19-Polk toward California St, a man in the bus sat next to me and initiated a conversation with me…
man: do you know the meaning of the word “inspiration”
me: uughh..what does it mean to you?
man: in….spire, inspire…you know, in spirit… when you feel “inspired”, you feel it in your “spirit”…you “inspire” me..
me: *listens with a smile*
man: do you know the meaning of “love”?
me: I’m not really sure…actually… Read more
No official tally has been taken yet, although we saw some creative and entertaining responses. Karen says, “The things I’ve seen in 14 cannot be unseen.” It’s fair to say that the 14-Mission leads the pack, with the 19-Polk perhaps a bus-length behind.
We cannot complete this survey without putting it to a vote here. So, tell us who you’re putting your money on. And if your answer is “other,” let us know which route you’d choose.
Muni rider Santani seems to think he’s flypaper for “uncomfortably personal” interactions on Muni. After his most recent experience on the 19-Polk, I’m inclined to believe him:
Mr. Hamilton, who got on the bus, asked the one other black guy if he wanted ‘a piece of this’ (his fist), and then talked me up the whole ride about his martial arts prowess, his death and resurrection 18 years ago, his occupations as a Secret Serviceman, candidate for Congress, commercial writer, and “one of the best dancers in this town.”
Also: “BTW, Mr. Hamilton has a debate with Ed Lee coming up in September or October.”