Obit-lette: 38-Geary Ocean Beach

38 Geary Ocean Beach
Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Brooks

100 Muni StoriesIn 2009, several Muni lines got the axe. To further anthropomorphize our city transit system — and to be a bit silly about the cuts — we solicited Muni obituaries from our readers. We learned San Franciscans were more attached to their pet lines than we ever imagined, not just because of proximity or convenience. This part of Sara’s writeup, in its entirety below, says it all for me: “For me and my husband, that turn means we’re going home.”

The 38-Geary Ocean Beach was eliminated over the weekend along with other route segments. Here’s Sara’s obituary for it.

So we took what is probably our last ride on the 38 Geary Ocean Beach line Friday night — even waited a few extra moments in the dark and cold on Geary for it, turning our noses up at an earlier bus so that we could experience that heart-warming turn off at 33rd Avenue one last time. For me and my husband, that turn means we’re going home.

I suspect a lot of Geary riders hardly knew the Ocean Beach branch line existed, or if they did it was just as that annoying occasional bus that would suddenly and inexplicably turn off of Geary, just as they were approaching the end of the line. There was always a confused scramble for the exits just after the turn as riders found themselves suddenly traveling what they obviously thought was the wrong way. And inevitably, one old guy asking plaintively “Hey, does this bus go to the VA Hospital?”

It was my favorite bus line though, because it ran right by my front door on Balboa and carried me to and from all the busy spots on Geary where I needed to be. Also, it effectively doubled the bus service on what will now be a very quiet and poorly served residential stretch of Balboa. That especially matters to me because I work a late shift downtown, and there will now be fewer options and longer waits at midnight on Market street. Standing there under the streetlight with the other late-night stragglers, I always felt like I’d hit the jackpot when I saw the “Ocean Beach” sign on the front of the approaching bus.

Sure there is a Balboa bus, but it’s not terribly frequent. As Muni helpfully points out, I can take the regular Geary bus or the Fulton– only two blocks in either direction from Balboa– but they neglect to mention the fairly daunting hills involved or the size of those blocks. And I guess now they’re offering the rather piss-poor alternative of getting off the Geary at 33rd and waiting for an infrequent 18 bus to show up and take you down Balboa. But change buses to travel 10 blocks, and at midnight no less? No.

I was pleased to see another reader eulogize this line last week, because I figured nobody else cares. I’m well aware that my desire to see it continue is pretty selfish — I was often the only rider left by the time we reached my stop. But nevertheless, I’m going to miss you, 38 Ocean Beach.

Read last week’s eulogy for the 38-Geary Ocean Beach here.

Obituary: 26-Valencia, ‘The Rich Man’s 14-Mission’

Continuing in today’s tradition of honoring the soon-to-be-departed 26-Valencia, here are five more poignant tributes we received:

RIP 26-Valencia by friscolex

O, 26. Your valiant tenure was at its peak in my high school days. Shuttling me to my boyfriend’s house so I could sneak in a smooch session before class, zipping me to the 23-Monterey so I wouldn’t have to walk at all on my way to school, always providing an alternative to the 14-Mission when very important Thrifttown trips were to be made; these are but a few of your to-be-sorely-missed accomplishments.

Could that have been more than ten years ago? Could they really be selling you to the glue factory? Could Muni really be so cruel as to choose you for the guillotine a few months after I moved to within 100 feet of your glorious bus stop? Sadly, the answer is yes. And so, oh 26, rest in peace.

The 26 Valencia by Alyssa

When I was in sixth grade at Everett Middle School on 18th and Church, my parents let me ride the bus home after school by myself. You would think I would be elated to be given this new freedom, but alas, I was terrified. Everett is only one block from Mission High School, and when my friends and I got on the J Church heading south, we knew some sort of bullying and smack-talking was about to go down. Us girls got off a little easier than our male counterparts. Those little blond boys might as well had targets tattooed on their foreheads. But I developed a confident strut to try to dissuade any high-school kids from messing with little me.

My fear made it so I only wanted to ride the bus home when I was accompanied by friends. You know, the ol’ safety-in-numbers theory. But my friends all got off the J before me, as they lived in Noe Valley or Eureka Valley or Bernal Heights. I had to ride the train all the way to the Glen Park stop, which was and still is in the middle of the freeway essentially, on a deserted concrete island between the whizzing cars on San Jose Avenue. If I had to get off at that stop alone, I literally sprinted up the stairs to the safety of the overpass, imagining I was just missing the grasps of Mission High thugs or the people who lived under the freeway.

What does this have to do with the 26, you ask? The 26 was my safety net. I could avoid all the aforementioned stress if I got off the J at 30th and Church, with the safety of Supercuts and the produce market nearby. From there I would wait…and wait…and wait…for the 26 to turn off Mission onto 30th and turn onto Chenery and take me safely and soundly home to the Glen Park of yore, with Diamond Super and Sunset Pizza. The moment I would start walking up Chenery instead because it was taking too long, it of course roared by me…damn 26! I don’t remember the last time I set foot on that bus, but it will always bring to mind that sigh of relief, that last leg of the journey before making it home in one piece.

Ode to the 26 by D@n Shick

I don’t know why I’m so sad about the loss of the 26-Valencia. I haven’t ridden it regularly in well over a decade; when I did ride it, it was unreliable, annoying to the many Valencia St. pedestrians, and frequently detoured; it’s a remarkably redundant route; and I’d much rather ride BART to Glen Park these days anyway.

Yet I am sad. I remember riding it home to my several awesome apartments on and near Valencia during the early &and mid-’90s from my summer temp jobs downtown or in Civic Center. It was my special bus that teleported me home and allowed me to avoid Mission Street. I rode it up and down Valencia when I had a Fast Pass and was too lazy, or needed coffee too badly, to walk to Muddy’s.

When I discovered that it went to the old Mint, it was the moment at which I felt like a real resident of San Francisco, and reading Cometbus on that ride home was imbued with a special magic that I still think of when I see new issues.

I’ll never forget how the 26 made me feel like a grown-up. I’ll miss ya, ya stupid bus.

R.I.P. 26 Valencia by Tony

Here is an outbound morning commute shot of the 26 Valencia approaching the 14th and Valencia Stop. You will be missed eventhough, I ended up walking many times, since the wait was sometimes inexcusable.

2009-12-04 08.41.48

And lastly, 26-Valencia, I didn’t love you enough by Jeff (me)

Could it be that the 26-Valencia was one rider away from being pardoned? Could that rider have been me?

I’ve lived a half-block from Valencia for well more than six years now, yet I can count the number of times I’ve ridden the 26-Valencia on 1.5 hands. It’s almost always a foggy ride, not due to the weather, but more to how much liquor I’ve imbibed. Or sometimes, it was simply the amount of warm pizza in me, and with the wind-chill factor factored in, and the randomness of a 26-Valencia magically showing up to cart my friends and loved ones on down the avenue to the safety and warmth of our homes …

I could cry.

26-Valencia, I did not do you right in our years near each other. For that, I am sorry. I hope that MTA does not close the book on you forever. You deserve resurrection someday, perhaps as a light-rail route.

A boy can dream, can’t he?

For the meantime, 26-Valencia, I wish you the most peaceful passing one can hope for a bus route. You will be missed, especially on those nights when I have no choice but to hoof it all … okay, all nine blocks of Valencia. If MTA leaves any stops or shelters in your wake, I vow to pay homage to them each time I encounter them.

Rest in peace.

There you have it. That’s the last of our obituaries, for now at least. Some more might trickle in, once the loss is realized starting next week. Meantime, check out California Beat’s obituary for the 26-Valencia, which can be found here. Spots Unknown has great photos of the old 26 streetcar. And here’s Mission Loc@l’s shout-out to the Valencia chariot.

Relaxing on the 26
This and top photo by Flickr user Noelster from the photoset Tribute to the 26-Valencia

Obit-lettes: 21-Hayes, 10-Townsend

21 Hayes - Downtown and the Ferry Plaza
Photo by Flickr user kodama (home)

SFMTA’s December 5 service changes include the elimination of portions of bus routes, in addition to the total elimination of some routes, and in other cases, increased service. A few riders wanted to share their thoughts on those parts of routes that will go the way of the dodo come this Saturday. First, here’s Noah, sparing no words for how he really feels about lopping off the Fulton portion of the 21-Hayes:

Good riddance.

Before the death of the Fulton portion of the 21-Hayes, people who lived on Fulton between Stanyan and 8th Ave had the benefit of two buses, the 5 and the 21. People who boarded the 21 on Hayes anywhere East of Divis had the benefit of zero buses during rush hour, because the 21 was always too full to stop.

Now, those of us who ride the 21 in a neighborhood where only the 21 goes by actually have a bus we can ride during rush hour.

SF Appeal has a helpful explanation of what exactly will be happening to the 21.

Next up is Muni Diaries favorite Tara, with a tale of woeful days ahead without her 10-Townsend:

Once BART drops me off at Embarcadero each morning at about 8:50, I scramble frantically, depending on what the NextBus prediction says, to Fremont and Market, awaiting my golden chariot: the 10-Townsend. It, usually reliably, takes me from downtown to the north end of town. It’s quiet, filled with polite folks (except for that one old guy I fought with that time), and rolls through one of the most thriving parts of town at 8:55 a.m. on a weekday. That said, it, um, pretty much empties by the time we pass Sansome and Lombard.

Though some lines are meeting their demise come Dec. 5, others, like the 10, are simply getting rerouted at certain points. Though yuppies like me should be able to deal with a minor glitch in his or her morning bus routine, yuppies like me end up having the biggest shitfits over this very thing. Total White Whine, if you will.

The long and short of it is that the 10 is now turning west on Jackson, instead of taking me all the way north, to my building at North Point and Stockton. I will miss you, that-part-of-the-10. Instead of jamming to my iPod or reading some to-be-a-movie-soon novel from Oprah’s list of recommendations, I usually preferred to stare out the window and watch the hubbub unfold. These are people going to work, bustling around in their businesswear and messenger bags. It actually makes me happy to be going to work, too, like we’re all in some sort of metropolitan club from 9-6 on weekdays. The best part was getting to see it all from my chariot, above the fray. I can still do some of that…but then I’ll have waited 10 minutes for a 10 minute bus ride, only to require another 15 minutes of walking. I might just have to bid adieu to the 10 altogether and walk the whole way, as it might not be worth the hassle when all is said and done.

Ultimately, if it’ll save Muni some cash, I can deal with it. The only thing it does is force me to leave the house about 15 minutes earlier in the morning, allowing me time to walk from downtown to Way Up There. Or, it forces me to hop on a 9x or a 9BX (soon to be rechristened the 8X, etc.), in the event I feel like a nice pushy morning ride or an elbow to the ribs is needed to jolt me awake for the day ahead. Either way, I will deal with it. But it doesn’t stop me from complaining about it here.

We’ll give you a break, Muni, if it’ll save you the cash. But try to cut us some slack next week while we all begrudgingly try to turn the speeding freight train around on our befuddled morning selves.

Check back tomorrow for the last of our Muni obituaries. It will be an all-day tribute to the almost-dearly departed 26-Valencia.

Photo diary: The Passion of the 53-Southern Heights

Photo by Whole Wheat Toast

For those who don’t know, the 53-Southern Heights is one of seven Muni routes scheduled to be completely eliminated on Dec. 5. It served parts of Potrero Hill for many years. And trust me, you don’t wanna walk that hill every day.

There’s some talk of various ways to honor these great urban warriors: flash mobs, wakes, “last rides” (a religious reference for those who haven’t had their coffee yet). How are you going to mark this grievous occasion?

Muni Diaries, being of the written word and all, is asking you to pen an obituary for your most beloved dying Muni route. The deadline passed on Sunday, but you can still sneak one in. We’ll be running them in the upcoming weeks. Details are here. Write a diary here.

*Yes, the title here is an allusion to the story of Jesus. Deal.

74X-Culture Bus Funeral March This Saturday

74X Culture Bus Final Day August 15th
Photo by Steve Rhodes

Eve and Matt over at SF Appeal reminded us of this Saturday’s somber-yet-timely death of the 74X-Culture Bus. So SF Appeal is proposing a ride on the Culture Bus on its last day of service to our fair tourists. Go show this waste of a Muni route your love, and show the world that San Francisco still has a lot of culture, just no need for an overpriced, redundant bus route with no riders.

Read more