Is ‘Muni Operator’ the worst job in SF?

It sure seems so.

From the short-tempered 31-Balboa driver this morning, who apparently doesn’t field questions, to the downright defensive lady who I have to assume was training my 49-Van Ness driver just now, Muni drivers give the impression that they’d rather be mopping floors and flipping burgers.

In my latest incident, I watched as we approached the stop before mine as an elderly man kept yanking the stop-request cord. I almost asked him politely to stop, but then I noticed why he was so aggressive: The stop-requested indicator wasn’t lighting up. The trainee driver, despite seeing the man and his friends stand up in anticipation of the stop, breezed on by 19th Street at a moderate clip. It was only when the cadre of senior citizens raised their voices that she stopped, just past the striped-off bus stop.

Not wanting to take any chances, I stood up as soon as she started going again, knowing that my stop was a mere block away. I pressed the red stop button located on that bar by the doors, to no avail. I tried pulling the cord on the side opposite where the old guy pulled his. Again, nothing. But this time the driver stopped at the actual stop, to my relief.

Still, a faulty stop-request system is something perfectly reasonable to make the operators aware of. So as we stopped, I told both the trainer and the trainee that the cords on both sides weren’t working, and neither was the button. Boy, was I in for it.


All I could do in the face of such angry defensiveness was simply say, “Okay, thank you. Have a good day,” and of course, deboard.

NextMuni flat-out does not work

Waiting for a 49 at Mission and 20th. Checked before leaving home. It said 5 minutes. Perfect.

Got out here and the NextMuni marquee said 2 minutes. Awesome, I thought. It’s working.

Except that four minutes or so went by. No bus. I waited a few more minutes then went to check the marquee.

Side note: As I approached the shelter wherein the marquee lives, the clearly homeless guy began taking a piss … while remaining seated.

Anyway, magically, the next bus was now scheduled to arrive in 22 minutes.

How does this mindfuckery happen???

Of course, it was a matter of three minutes before the bus (which I’m on now) arrived.

Gotta love it.

Smooth Ride … Take It Easy


I just traveled from Balboa and 28th Avenue to Mission and 20th Street in 38 minutes. Yes, you read that right.

What a totally easy commute. The 31 was there at 28th Avenue right around 9 a.m., like it’s supposed to be. No long stops, no rowdy passengers, a very polite (if quiet) operator.

And I didn’t have to wait longer than two minutes on Van Ness for the 49 to appear. Again, a very nice driver (albeit talking on her phone the whole time), polite passengers, many green lights.

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The 47, my new best friend

I had another harrowing experience waiting for my F car this morning on Market at Van Ness. Two alleged trolley-bus Fs (their signs said they were, in fact F buses, and included “Market/Wharves” and everything) came by after a long while…and both drivers said they were stopping at Eighth Street. If you didn’t know, Eighth Street is about 3-4 blocks from where I was standing. And the F train is a charming little streetcar that is mostly for tourists, and therefore hideously unreliable. It is, unfortunately, among the fastest ways to get from the Embarcadero BART station to the northeast end of town, second only to walking, if you have time. It might (might) tie the 10-Townsend or the 9x, though both are crazy crowded in the mornings.

I hadn’t seen an F train for 15 minutes at least, and Jeff, my partner in life and Muni Diaries, said NextMuni was estimating it wouldn’t be there for another 20 minutes. I thought I had to take a cab to work for the third time in a month – a ride that costs at least $10 more than the $0 it normally does. My golden solution was a 47-Van Ness, which hit its scheduled stop on Van Ness at Market right after I got there. The driver was helpful when people asked questions, and it put me a block from my office. Thank you, 47. I always liked you better than that dirty sister of yours, the 49.

Meanwhile, people gathered at the F stop across the way in greater numbers, looking expectantly up Market for a car that probably still hasn’t gotten there.

I wasn’t that late (got in around 9:25 instead of 9:10), and I don’t mind the ride. It’s just unfair (and highly lame) when you have to play guessing games with your commute. If this keeps up, I might just break up with the F train altogether – this time, I mean it.

‘Let me off the fucking bus!’

On the 49-Van Ness this morning, heading south on Van Ness. Just after I boarded, a man leaped up from one of the disabled-reserved seats screaming, “Back door!!!! Back door!” We weren’t at a stop, mind you. I had just boarded, remember, and we left that stop behind us.

Still, he lumbered over to the door, rolly-bag somewhat in hand. Still occasionally belting out a “back door!” This was when, by obligation, surrounding passengers started mumbling to things to one another like, “ah, San Francisco.”

It was a crowded bus, and I was standing just on the other side of the aisle from where this guy was in the door’s step-down. Now he started saying, over and over again, “Let me off the fucking bus!” and I noticed that, yes, there was snot dripping from his nose. He plopped his bag down into the steps beside him, but we were between stops, a three- or four-block span.

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‘This isn’t a taxi’

We were riding the 49-Van Ness toward the 1000 Van Ness theater tonight. As we joined the clusterfuck around City Hall post-Pride, with its closed-off, trash-strewn, dyed-hair-filled streets. Halfway between Grove and McAllister, a horde of teenagers from (I’m guessing) Fairfield came screaming up to the bus outside. We inched forward, but they made it to the front door and proceeded to bang the glass, indignantly saying, “C’mon! Let us on!”

The driver, who was out of sight for us, said to them plainly, “This is not a taxi.” – Jeff

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