Putting the Blog on Autopilot: More Translink Nonsense….

Sometimes you can put this thing on autopilot since it writes itself….It seems that folks at BART are suggesting BART cut ties with Translink, the makers of those useless boxes on MUNI that were supposed to be used to collect fares. For 6 years now, there’s been endless cost overruns, delays, and excuses, but apparently it’s just par for the course with the contractor, the MTA, and everyone else, since no one until now seemed to mind.
Maybe the way to get this project shut down (thus at least cutting our losses) or finally finished and working would be to tell the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors and the MTA and MUNI that if they force these folks to just do what they were paid to do, the resulting increases in revenue could go to things like pay raises, big pay for Mayoral aides, and whatever the Board of Supervisors wants to blow money on. Since they don’t seem to care about asking people getting paid tax money to do the job for us, maybe this would help move the project along.
UPDATE: Friday’s SFist had a hilarious headline along with a 10 year timeline of this epic FAIL.

Oh My God, It’s Finally Here: The Transit Effectiveness Project Report….

For the better part of a year, news of the ongoing Transit Effectiveness Project has been kicked around as meetings, studies and whatnot have been devoted to try and figure out where and what MUNI needs to change in order to be useful to San Francisco’s citizens. I’ve always encouraged people to get involved in the process, mostly because if people just let the geniuses run the show, the result is likely a mess.
The Chronicle has a recap of the report’s release, and you can go to the TEP site itself and download copies of the various reports. There’s so much here that it’s hard to really comment on it without reading it, so for now I’ll hold off any big postings until I read it for myself. If any of you have comments as you check it out, please feel free to discuss in the comments section.
And remember: while some of the report inevitably is a bit of the No Duh Institute variety (gawrsh Mickey, folks want the buses to run on time! We needed a study to tell us that), some of the other parts of the study I saw a while back were kind of interesting in showing how people use the system as of today.
MUNI hasn’t updated its routes in 20+ years, and let’s face it, 20 years ago there were plenty of parts of the City where no one lived, that now house thousands of people, and we still have many “legacy” routes that are the lineal descendants of streetcars (and streetcar companies) long gone.
Enjoy the transit-y goodness, fellow citizens!
UPDATE: The good folks at the Transbay Blog did a nice quick summary of the changes in the TEP. Go check it out!

A Day In the Life of the 44 O’Shaughnessy, Courtesy of the Chronicle

This morning’s Chronicle has an interesting feature about one day in the life of a MUNI Bus, and in particular, one on the 44 O’Shaughnessy (which was recently re-routed to connect better with the T Third line)
The 44 has one of the most circuitous routes in the system, starting out in Bayview/Hunter’s Point, and winding across town and ending in the Richmond. For friends and family who are coming up from the Peninsula to go to the museum, I often tell them to take BART to Glen Park, and catch a 44, as you save a significant amount of time and bypass downtown, and get dropped off at the Museum’s doorstep. Oh and the always awesome Melisa’s Chinese Cuisine is right on the route at 6th and Balboa.
This story is similar (but not the same) as the MUNI Trekker feature I’d planned to do, but canceled, but may revive later this year when the weather gets better. There are all sorts of odd MUNI routes that take you through a real cross section of the city, something most of us don’t see as we go about our day.
In an unrelated piece of news, the folks at Transbay Blog post details about MUNI’s latest showboat, the “Connected Bus.” You would not believe how much press the Mayor, Cisco, and MUNI have drummed up for this thing. I get a Google News Alert for various things related to MUNI and the last few days have been jam-packed with all sorts of PR gold for this wondrous magic bus. So check it out and let us know how the magic bus worked out for you!

O Hai! CW Obvious and I Sort of Agree on the Central Subway….

Well at least someone besides me said it: CW Nevius wrote a couple of pieces in the Chronicle this past week, expressing similar concerns to my own that we’re about to embark on an expensive white elephant of a rail line known as the Central Subway.
The Central Subway is an intersection of petty political promises and half-assed planning that will do nothing to improve transit for anyone, be they those who live in North Beach, Chinatown, downtown, or on the T-Third (!) line, and as a bonus, will need to steal trains from all the other lines to accommodate this short, 3-stop, multi-billion dollar Tunnel of Love.
Mayor Newsom loves to talk about it though, since he can ribbon cut at a ceremony or something. At last year’s “Fake Question Time,” he was able to say in the same sentence that he “wanted to hear what people thought,” but also that “this is a done deal and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And it would seem he’s correct on the latter point – there seems to be this mantra of “if we don’t take the Feds’ money for this project, no matter how lame, we’re ‘losing out” on something” that everyone at MUNI and City hall repeat.
Ah well. I keep forgetting that common sense and reason are in short supply these days, and that “leadership” in San Francisco consists of doing Really Stupid Things to appease future patrons of future campaigns. Epic FAIL.

MUNI Showboating Continues: “Connected Bus?” Meet “Superbus!”

The showboating at MUNI continues. First, we had the trial run of the cool Double Decker Bus last month, and this month, we had the rollout of the Connected Bus, a magical bus painted green that’s going to have WiFi. Wow!

Almost makes you forget about that whole “spend MUNI money on Mayoral aides thing, doesn’t it?

Oddly enough, though, when you start to read the info from the Transit Effectiveness Project, and the story in the Chronicle, most people don’t really mind wifi on the bus per se, but would rather see MUNI prioritize little things like:

– Buses that run on time
— Less-surly drivers
— Graffiti removal
— More comfortable seats
— Back doors that open only for people exiting the bus – not fare cheats sneaking in.

Those darn MUNI patrons. They sure do want the sun and the moon, don’t they? Or at least some better service on a rainy day like today.

One wonders if the people who come up with these ideas actually ride a bus. I mean, given the rate of iPod/iPhone thefts in San Francisco, I’m not so sure the place I want to haul out fragile, expensive technology is on a herky-jerky MUNI bus.

Personally I find this latest showboat-y presentation a bit laughable. I mean, doesn’t anyone remember the “Superbus” during Dot Com Boom 1.0? That seemed to have worked well, didn’t it?

PS: The money quote from this story is how this bus is “not my grandmother’s bus.” Well that’s true. My grandmother’s bus wasn’t a bus, it was a reliable streetcar, and MUNI and Market Street Railway served the city with good service back in the day.

Changes Coming to the Site…Watch Out for Nails, Bugs, Etc…UPDATED

I’ve been making some changes to the site that some of you have already noticed (Thanks for reading!)…I’ve updated the “Categories” on the right side of the page so that you can find older content on related subjects much easier. The old categories were an anachronism from when the site was still on Journalspace under the old name, and didn’t really make much sense. I’ve also tagged every single (!) article with tags, which you can’t see now, but probably will in the future.
Thanks to a helpful Loyal Reader, who fixed the problem in like record time (because I missed a setting or 2) the archives are now fully functional! Click away for archivey goodness!
Oddly enough, if you type in a word in the “Search” box in the upper right hand corner you can find any article from 2005 to today. And if you click on the temporary “archives” link way at the bottom of the page, you’ll see everything. But the category links right now are only showing articles from 2007, which is weird. So if you click on “Nightlife on the N” you’ll see recent articles ,but you won’t see the first one, from 2006, reviewing John Colins downtown. Weird.
Anyway, these are the first of what are going to be some more changes to make the site more useful. Also, since the blogroll plugin for MT is not likely to EVER be updated for MT 4, I’m creating at new category for links that will take you to fun sites around town, but also tell you a bit more about said sites so it’s not just a big long boring list (and those that we link to will hopefully get some more traffic).

And Now, a Local Lolcat Offers a PSA on MUNI Fares

Njudahcat offered this PSA as a way to help get the word out about MUNI Fares.

I figured given the latest bad MUNI karma, it was time to lighten the mood!

Enjoy your weekend! For more information on LOLCATS, consult your local library, or go to this site

PS: Oh and for extra fun, why not try and see that spy satellite that’s gonna get shot out of the sky….go to Heaven’s Above, find your location, and see what it says.

From what I can tell tonight (Saturday) is not so great for us in the Inner Sunset, as it may be hard to see at 6:33 tonight, but Monday should be better. Enjoy!

Injury on a K Outbound Stops MUNI Metro Traffic – Live Report

Loyal Reader and blogger friend Melissa just called me a few minutes ago to report on a rather critical accident on a K-Outbound line that’s stalled MUNI traffic downtown.
According to Melissa, an elderly gentleman got on at Embarcadero on a K-Outbound line, and the train (which as we know in the tunnel is controlled by computer, NOT the operator) made a very sudden stop, just at the moment that said gentleman’s hand was not attached to any handle or bar and he fell down, possibly injuring or breaking his hip. There was a 20 minute wait for the paramedics to show up and move him to safety upstairs. The operator apparently was trying to help as best they could, but got a little grief from patrons, not realizing that machines control the trains in the tunnel (which many people might not be aware of, we’re not all transit nerds like me).
As of right now (7:40pm) paramedics and first responders were just about to get him onto a gurney and to safety. OK as I’m writing this and now as of of 7:43pm I just got a text from Melissa that the trains are moving, but delays should be expected.
I think that as we go about our weekends we should hope that said passenger is OK, and be aware there will be some delays for a while as MUNI gets back up to speed.
Thanks to Melissa for her eyewitness account…it’s just sad that anyone gets injured on public transit, and more sad that writing about SF transit means talking about mayhem and injuries on said system. If this mayhem, death, and crap continues, I’m quitting, because I didn’t start this to write the “let’s all talk about people getting hurt and killed blog.”
PS: You can read the rest of Melissa’s evening, delayed by the K line, over at Beth Spotswood’s awesome blog. It’s quite a small world here in SF blog land.

Calling BS on Fare Increases and Fare Shenanigans in San Francisco

Rather than react to the trial balloon on fare hikes MUNI floated today, I decided to take a look back over the past year at all the rhetoric floated by Our Leaders on MUNI fares. Give credit to MUNI and the MTA on this – they are very good at framing issues, mostly by completely ignoring things like “facts” and “past statements.”
But first, a comment about “money” and “cuts.” I get a bit weary of hearing the “poor us” speech when it comes to money for MUNI. After all, we just voted for Measure A last year which was supposed to bring significant stability to MUNI’s funding. Now, suddenly, we’re told there’s yet another “crisis” and they want us to pay more and get less. Amazing.
Of course, it doesn’t help when San Francisco legislators voted for a state budget that whacked a significant amount of MUNI funding. The federal government isn’t helping matters by possibly taking away a ton of cash for MUNI projects because of opposition from some folks for a Doyle Drive toll. Using MUNI safety money to pay for political aides isn’t exactly good management either, nor is giving the boss a big pay raise in the midst of this “financial crisis.”
But these are big issues for another day. Let’s instead take that trip in the Wayback Machine and see what’s been said about MUNI fares for the last few years.
Way back in February 2006 a report was issued indicating that in many places, 50% of folks weren’t paying the fares owed. After said report, did fare collections increase or get better?
No! Because, flash forward to February 2007 and guess what we were talking about? Yep, you guessed it – MUNI still wasn’t getting its act together and collect the fares it’s supposed to – amazing!
Now you’d think some bright, handsome young Mayor, would seize upon the report and bang his fist on the table saying “Let’s do a better job, MUNI! Collect some more fares like you’re supposed to.” Instead we got some hippie-esque feel-good nonsense from talking about how we should make MUNI “free” (which was thoroughly debunked when the adults studied the idea).
Not to be outdone, Supervisors and other electeds came up with their own notion of a “youth fare”, apparently to be paid for with a tax on unicorns and elves. Fortunately, this half-baked idea died as the folks promoting it turned on each other. Woo hoo.
See the pattern? Everyone keeps saying “no money” and yet a big reason they have a problem is because MUNI’s not bothering to collect money it is supposed to from its passengers. Instead of demanding MUNI get with the program, the politicians come up with crazy notions to take away more money from MUNI, usually to appease folks of a certain political persuasion. Then they start talking about fare increases and service cuts because…well gawrsh Mickey, there’s “no money.”

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The SFCTA Needs You!

Ah, the San Francisco County Transit Agency, described by a sage scribe as MUNI’s successful younger sibling. First we heard the news about work finally beginning on the Irving and 9th/Judah and 9th intersections, and soon afterwards, MUNI Chief Nate Ford started arguing he should be able to drink their milkshakes and take their money. Woo hoo!
This afternoon, I got an email announcing new vacancies for the SFCTA’s Citizens Advisory Committee. It seems that there are quite a few vacancies, esp. in the districts which represent the N-Judah line (and oh yeah, one in District 11 too).
Full details after the jump. If you’ve got the time and want to be able to weigh in on such issues as the Central Subway (!) and the like, well here’s a chance to join up and get involved!

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