I was on the 54-Felton during the 1989 earthquake

jenifer wofford muni illustration
Illustration by Jenifer Wofford

Do you remember where you were when the big one hit in 1989? Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Jenifer Wofford
of Earthquake Weather has been gathering stories about the quake. Stories on her site are accompanied by her wonderful illustrations such as the one above. San Franciscan Gabe Wachob happened to be riding the 54-Felton that fateful evening. Here’s his story.

On the evening of Oct 17, 1989, I was a 16 year old senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School. When the earthquake hit, I was on the 54 Felton on my way home after a late day at school (why I was going home at 5, I don’t remember). It was a normal day, except abnormally hot as we all know, except about 2 minutes after we crossed Mission (on Persia), while at a stop, someone started trying to tip the old bus over. Or so we thought. It was a strange experience – those old diesel buses were not exactly lightweight… When I looked up (during the shaking) I saw “standing waves” in the electricity lines above. I knew it was an earthquake.

The bus continued on the route – I don’t think we knew the magnitude of what had happened. It was clear, as we continued on, that it was a serious event, however. Driving through a part of town with 2 story stucco-d houses with garages on the first floor, we could see big cracks in the stucco around almost every garage.
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From the Driver’s Seat: Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya

Eze (@Eze415 on Twitter) has been an operator on Muni and AC Transit and recently started a blog called Bus Driver Stories about what he sees from the driver’s seat. If you think as riders we see a lot of antics, wait until you read about what Eze witnesses every day, like these silly antics from some female passengers:


8:03PM Inbound

I get to La Salle and load up one passenger that was at the bus stop. As I’m closing the door I see about 6-7 girls running from down the block to get on the bus. I leave the bus door open because I’m not gonna roll up and pick them up. They can run to the bus since I know most of them will ask for a ride so they can earn this ride by running to it. So I load them up and 3 more are still running up and I wait. I mess with them and close the door and the look on their face is hilarious. So I open up the door and they get on.

Their conversation goes something along the lines of boys, one of the girls had a birthday that day, jeans/blouses/underwear, and alcohol. As they get off the bus they pass in front of me and one of the girls says something to another and right in front of the bus she starts booty shaking hahahaha all of the girls are laughing, and I’m laughing too. It’s hilarious because it was so random. I close the doors and take off laughing.

Read more from this ride and some of Eze’s tales from driving AC Transit and Muni.