Freestylin’ 49, Part 2

Muni Graveyard
Photo by Flickr user DaveFayram

I hate bagging on Muni drivers, whether it’s via the relative anonymity of the interwebs, to a friend at a party, or to their faces. It accomplishes nothing, as you’re still shit out of luck even after you’ve gotten worked up, right? But I had to say something this time.

Background: I spun this yarn a few weeks ago about a 49-Van Ness/Mission that inexplicably stopped at 14th Street, instead of continuing further south like it’s supposed to. Fine. Whatever. But during each of the three times this has happened to me, news of the offbeat route was announced with an inside voice that could shame the quietest church whispers. The 49 isn’t exactly quiet, either. All signs indicated that this was indeed a 49 that went the full route.

During my charmed third time on the 49-Stops at 14th Street, the bus pulls to a stop, and the same driver (at the same time of day) opens all the doors. He steps outside the bus, walks the length of one side, and notifies people with his inside voice, “last stop…last stop…last stop.”

As 50 people stare at one another confusedly, wondering if the driver simply bailed to the gas station for a snack, I stepped outside and asked if this was the last stop. I said he needs to actually announce this to people next time, because no one can hear him. That is why 50 people are still sitting on his bus.

His response: “The PA is broken, what do you want me to do?”


Yes, PAs break, especially on Muni, where a lot of things break all the time. And he’s apparently driving the same broke-ass bus every time, hence the regular lack of aurally acceptable announcements. Shitty. But come on; why did he go outside, first of all, instead of walking the length of the inside of the bus?

Consider this another plea for better communication between drivers and passengers.

If you’re curious, the bus turns east on 14th Street after slowly emptying its confused load of folks.

Freestylin’ 49

MUNI to City Center
Photo by Flickr user Transguyjay

Color me confused with a hint of annoyance, to be all angry-Muni-rider about it.

The gist: I get on a 49 at Van Ness and Oak, for my southbound journey into the Mish. Twice, at the same time of day, the same driver says that 14th Street will be the last stop. (Hint: it’s not supposed to be). A 14 or another 49 showed up both times before long. But it is cause for some mild WTF, particularly if it happens twice at the same time.

Sidenote: I’m all for a soft-spoken kinda guy, but this driver needs to speak up when he says that 14th Street will be the last stop. As expected, come 14th Street, a few people get off. But 20 other people sit confused as fellow passengers assume the task of explaining that this is indeed the final stop.

Also: The first time it happened, there was no indication on the bus’s marquee that it was ending its route at 14th Street. The second time, the sign was in that in-between-signs state. Like, maybe it says 14th, but wait … *hates self*

My understanding was that truncated lines are one-offs; they’re thrown in to thin the crowd of everyone that couldn’t get the earlier bus because it didn’t show up. So? Why’s this happening? Theories, whether serious or comedic fiction, welcome.

Three Cup Shuffle Scam on Muni

Photo by Flickr user photine

Muni rider Adam saw a group of people scamming Muni passengers on the 24 recently with the infamous “three cup shuffle” scam. I’ve heard about this scam being carried out on tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf and in some other tourist-heavy cities, but Adam’s description of what happened seems more threatening:

Today a friend witnessed a group of people gambling/scaming passengers on Muni. One guy would do the ‘which cup is the bottlecap under’ and bug nearby passengers about money, while flashing cash. A nearby passenger refused to pay attention so two other guys came up and threatened the guy into giving up his cash on hand. This was on a 24-inbound. They jumped off in the Haight. Not 10 minutes later another friend texts me that this same group of guys (whom he sees all the time) are on the 71-inbound doing the same thing. They intimidated a guy out of $40.

Adam said he called 311 and was transferred to SFPD, who then transferred him back to Muni. Adam also reports that the 311 operator would not take an anonymous report, but on the 311 site I found that you can indeed file an anonymous report about Muni.
Read more

Fare Inspector Holds Passport and Frisks (update with SFMTA comments)

New Passport
Photo by Flickr user Cold Cream Coffee

While things are looking apocalyptic for Muni, Muni rider Bill sent us a disturbing account of a fare inspection. Here’s what Bill wrote:

At about 6 p.m. tonight (2/1), I listened to a fare inspector on the 8x (bus #6238) ask a rider for his pass. Then the inspector asked him for ID. Once the man produced an Irish passport, the inspector then wanted to know where the man lived in San Francisco and how long he had been in this country. And then, while still holding on to his passport, she headed for the door with instructions that he follow. As the bus pulled away, she had started to pat the guy down.

Can a fare inspector request ID and hold onto it while they question and pat you down? The whole thing just didn’t seem kosher.

This sounds horrible. Positively Draconian. Did anyone else reading this see this go down? Surely a complaint can be lodged, with route, bus number, time of day, description of the POP officer in question. 311. We’ve sent questions to SFMTA for their official word on what fare inspectors can and cannot do, so stay tuned as we update this post.

We got in touch with SFMTA’s public relation officer Kristen Holland, who said that a fare inspector can ask to see your ID “for the purpose of writing a citation.” However, “The transit fare inspectors are not authorized to search Muni customers or their personal belongings.”

Another update from SFMTA: So far they have received no official complaint regarding this incident.

‘Trains are moving, but moving slowly!’

Goddammit, Muni! Please start working again, so we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.*

Muni rider Christian reports on the scene this morning at Castro Street Station:

Everyone looks jaded as they experience more ‘inbound delays’ in the Castro.

The announcer says: “Trains are moving, but moving slowly!”

MTA released a statement indicating that, as of 7:55 a.m., N-Judah trains were backed up in the Sunset due to a “non-Muni accident” at Irving and Arguello. And the dominoes, they fall …

No word from MTA on reported backups at West Portal. At least it’s not raining? Yet.

* of course the irony here is that, were Muni to, you know, “work,” we’d lose half our content, especially lately.

Raise a glass of OJ and wish Muni a better week

Because really, how could it be any worse? And when we say better for Muni, we really mean better for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the public transit system every day.

But before we get there, we’ve got a little catching up to do. Over the weekend, we received the following from Muni rider Darryl:

Although it’s probably not much of a surprise, but I think this week was probably one of Muni’s worst weeks for service since Brown was in office.

There were unexplained delays 3 out of 5 days headed between Castro Station and downtown.  The usual 100-200 people waiting at rush hour.

[Friday] at 8:50am I took a snapshots [above] of almost the entire Muni fleet stuck between Van Ness and Embarcadero outbound at morning rush hour.  Luckily got to work only 15 minutes late, but I feel sorry for anybody trying to get outbound or get anywhere later.  No shuttles, no ETA, no explanation.

And to follow up on last Friday’s accident involving a pedestrian getting struck by and trapped under an M-Ocean View, Muni rider Allen showed us more from the scene, seen below. Go here for the original post, which includes photos sent in by Christopher. (The victim is alive, but reportedly in serious condition.)

The week was enough to dampen our attempt at keeping up rosy Muni dispositions. That’s saying a lot. At one point, we even condoned the use of taxis. Oh lord, forgive us, as we know not what we do.

So yes, here’s hoping the worst is behind us, and we can all get back to smelly, crowded, hot, wet trains and buses that get us to work only 12 minutes late.

1 2 3 4 9