Wanted: Muni advice for an out-of-towner

Photo by Lulu Vision*

British dude James sent us the most charming email the other day asking about standard procedures and etiquette on Muni. Oh, how we wish some of our fellow riders would be as considerate about etiquette as James. Here are some of James’s questions:

  • Do we pay when we get on? Or do we need to have pre-paid passes or something?
  • When we’re at a bus stop, do we need to put our hand out to catch it or does it always stop at every stop?
  • Is there a bell you ring to get off the bus?
  • What do I say to the driver when I get on? What’s the little phrase that people use? (for example, here in the UK, it’s usually “one to town, please” or something like that).
  • Do I get given a ticket? Do I need to keep hold of it?

A few things have changed since we did a “newbie orientation” last year. The SFMTA has a new customer guide, which addresses some of these questions in more detail but doesn’t really go into my favorite question from James: what you say to the driver when you get on?

We thought it more fitting to turn his inquiry over to you, the Muni-riding community. So whadaya say? Help a guy out.

* Pictured is one of the short-lived Muni double-decker buses, which, you know, is so … British.

Unnecessary Rudeness: A PSA of Sorts

Photo by Tantek Çelik

A lady gets on a full-ish 47 on Van Ness on Thursday morning. She was sorta not unlike a brunette Anna Nicole Smith, both visually and vocally. She tried unsuccessfully, twice, to tag her Clipper card. Since these were unsuccessful attempts, the driver asked her to try again. She says this in response:

“Can’t you read? It said ‘already processed.’ Fucking idiot.”

So … some friendly reminders and tips for everyone at home:

  • “EH-EH” is the no-no sound. “EH,” singular, is the good sound. Both are really loud and obvious.
  • Those machines always tell you, aurally and on the screen, when your tag worked. Pretty sure it displays a red light if it didn’t.
  • It happens to the best of us. I usually board the bus, rolling my eyes after two tries, and tag at the back doors.
  • The drivers can be faulted for a great many things, but failure to tag a card on persnickety machines isn’t one of them.

She was sweet as pie to the passengers, perhaps realizing how snatchy the whole exchange was.


International Public Transit Rules

taipei MRT
Photo by Jennifer

A little holiday traveling to Taipei reminded me that, just like there are unspoken rules in gyms, there are unspoken rules on public transit all over the world. For example, when riding the subway in Taipei, you’ll see that nobody sits in the reserved seats no matter how crowded or empty the train is. And if those seats are taken, everyone seems to offer up their seats when an elderly person gets onboard. Everyone seems to stand on the right side of the escalator even though the city’s transit authority had stopped encouraging standing on right hand side some time ago. I saw a sign encouraging riders to hold on tight to the escalator handrails: “The handrails have been sanitized regularly.” Hmm.

I thought about unspoken rules on Muni:
– Move back.
– Watch your backpack so you don’t hit people in the face.
– Step down to exit and yell “Backdoor!” for the uninitiated.

What else?

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