Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Muni?

Monday, March 2nd was one Hell of a day for our beleaguered N-Judah line. The fun started in the afternoon just before 3pm, when I happened upon a stalled N on Irving, and smoke! As it turned out, the overhead wire snapped and as such, no trains would be going anywhere. Since I had some time (and all of my errands were within a block or two of the scene), I live Tweeted the fun for those who follow me on Twitter.

snapped overhead wire njudah

Guess those weird plastic things paid off after all.

You can see in this photo the damage, as  well as the parked cars and trucks trapped while they awaited a repair crew.

I have to say the speed and professionalism of the SFMTA repair crew has to be commended. I’ve seen them repair overhead wires and other messes before, and in this case, where the train was still under the break. They fixed the cable in about 30 minutes, and everything seemed ok.


SFMTA repair crews fixing the overhead wire that snapped.

“Seemed” being the operative word here.

That’s because not more than an hour later another N Judah train  going westbound was stalled at 4th and Irving! This, right as rush hour started. To add to the fun, an eastbound N was stalled at 22nd and Judah about 45 minutes later!

I have to say that even for Muni and the SFMTA, this is a bad situation. To have one of the busiest lines in the system have this many failures, either of LRVs or infrastructure, isn’t acceptable. What makes this worse is that to the folks at City Hall, it’s “nbd” (as the kids say these days), and they don’t care.

Instead,  we have a mayor who micromanages traffic and safety decisions on Polk Street to benefit his stupid optometrist, but could care less about doing something useful to fix Muni today. Then again, why should he? He can illegally park his little car anywhere he wants. LOL!

Now, I do realize that when the new Siemens cars come on board, LRV breakdowns will occur less often AND be easier to repair. That said, having this many failures at once at precisely the worst possible time is accepted as SOP way too often. We have many silver tongued folks in City Hall who talk a good  game about “transit” – but you sure didn’t see them talking to riders when the bus shuttles were hauling people around the day’s many “#fails.”




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What Your New N-Judah LRV Is Going to Look Like! (Probably)

Several months ago, the SFMTA conducted a survey, both online and in person, to ask riders their opinions of various options for the new Siemens-built LRV cars that will replace the failing Breda fleet in the near future. While not a final say, the results, along with recommondations from SFMTA staff, make it clear what we will be getting, barring some radical shift in policy.

First off, the LRV body will liekly be the one nicknamed “Skyline.” You can see it in this link to the SFMTA blog – it’s the red one. Regardless of body type, these new cars offer significant advantages over the heavy, loud, disaster-prone Breda cars Mayor Willie Brown saddled us with in the 1990s. They have fewer parts, use less energy, have reliable doors, and are much easier to service. Since they’re being built in Sacramento, they don’t have far to go to get to work here in SF.

The more controversial decision on these new cars is the decision to use what’s called “longitudinal” seating. That’s a fancy way of saying the seats will have riders with their backs to the window, sitting facing inwards to the streetcar. If you’ve ever seen a New York City subway, that’s pretty much the same set up. The “Milan” streetcars on the F-line also have seating like this.

Not everyone surveyed was thrilled about this – interestingly enough people living further from the city center (i.e. L and N riders) as well as seniors preferred a seating setup more or less like we have now (seats facing front or back). Reasons offered for the “longitudinal” seating boiled down to a few main arguments – LRVs would weigh less, save more energy, and allow for more people to board in and out of the LRVs during busy times.

I’ve been on enough transit systems around the US and overseas, and frankly, either one is fine with me. I do find that with the current Bredas, a crowded car is hard to navigate, and it’s easy to get stuck in the middle while a pack of people in the way refuse to yield so one can leave.

If lining up the seats along the sides fixes this, fine. I would be curious to see how seniors/disable seating would be accommodated to ensure that those that need said seats can get to them easily and without a lot of hassle.

Most importantly, with modern, reliable LRVs on the street, we won’t have to listen to the infamous “Godzilla Mating Call” horns ever again.

Read the report and the survey here: SFMTA 14-1201 LRV Design Survey Results w attachments

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The NJC Zazzle Store Closes PERMANENTLY on Jan. 1 2015!

I know I’ve said this before, but this time it’s for real – I will be shutting down the blog’s store at Zazzle for good at the end of the month. I’m tired of fighting with these idiots about what’s a “copyrighted” image, especially when they insist a hand drawn image streetcars by someone somehow violates “copyright” when it does not.

Instead I’m looking for a local producer where we can offer “The N Is Near” and other assorted apparel, etc. at local stores. Not only will this mean an immediate cut in prices, it also means you’ll be suppoprting a local business or two, not some parsitical Internet jerk-factory.

For now, if you’re looking for some fun things to give during the season, check the store out and buy something! Proceeds go towards paying designers to replicate these onto a new system. Thanks and Enjoy!

Browse other gifts from Zazzle.

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An Inexpensive Way to Boost Capacity on the N and all Metro Lines

Ok, I kid. But this video of a guy using a pallet customized to ride the rails in Bratislava is kinda fun to watch:

Pallet © Tomáš Moravec, 2008 from Tomáš Moravec on Vimeo.

I don’t know that I’d want to do this on our Muni’s tracks, but if it was possible, at least on parts of the rail line, it could be fun. Kids, don’t try this at home.

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