Twirlwind on the 21

From the Muni Diaries submissions inbox:

I used to ride the 5-Fulton every morning and afternoon to and from work. I’d hop on the bus either at Clayton or Masonic, hang on for dear life, and thirty minutes later, arrive (slightly windblown and disheveled) at either my fantastic place of employment or within a half-block of my abode. From June through early August, San Francisco Ballet’s summer school students take the 5 to and from USF. The good thing is these students are very well behaved. They keep an eye out for the elderly and parents with young children, move their large dance bags filled with pointe shoes, iPods, and breakfast (bagels and bananas), stay mostly quiet in the early mornings, and travel in small groups.

And I stress this last part because a few years ago, two new dance summer programs started housing their students at USF, and they traveled in packs. And by packs, I mean 30+ students at a time, on their cell phones constantly, and heaving their bags to and fro like boulders. These new kids made riding Muni during rush hour a living nightmare. And it’s not just the sheer mass of them now 60 dance students at a bus stop is just crazy in and of itself… But that combined with the attitude of the newbies is a lot to handle at 8AM.

So what’s an intelligent, city-minded girl to do? Switch bus lines, right? Oh, wrong. Two years ago, I switched to the 21-Hayes bus line. It’s an extra few blocks walk south from the Fulton line. It’s a quieter, more local bus line. Neighbors are friendly, most people are pleasant, and the drivers, if they see a regular hobbling in three inch heels and frantically waving her bus pass while dragging her gym bag behind her, will hold the bus and say, “It’s good to see you!” as she climbs aboard. Who can’t heart the 21-line? Well, right now, me!

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Tales From Olden Days 3

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.

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