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October 14, 2013

Enjoying Your Choco-Ration, Muni Riders? AKA How's that 3 Car Muni Metro Working?

You have to give credit to Muni and the SFMTA for one thing - they sure know how to spin the news media in ways that would make the Ministry of Truth blush in 1984. There are many such examples but I'm going to focus on just one today - the news about "test runs" of three-car Muni Metro trains, as reported in various outlets, including The Examiner.

Now, to hear what's said at SFMTA meetings, the press and whatnot, the MTA did oh so much hard work to make this pilot happen. Why, what a smart idea! Make the trains able to take more passengers when things are busy. What a great idea ! Huzzah for the shopkeep! Huzzah for the Salaries at Muni and the MTA!

There's just one little problem with all of this ballyhoo for this allegedly brilliant idea - that is how the system was supposed to work in the first *&^%! place. Yes, you read that right. When the Muni Metro system was designed, trains were supposed to have the option of three, even four cars as needed. Really.

The only reason we haven't had them since the introduction of the Breda cars in the 1990s? Well, that's because the Breda cars, to put it mildly, suck. You can read about how our esteemed ex-Mayor politicized and screwed up this process, but what's more important is the fallout for you, the rider - you got your services cut, and you didn't even realize it. The Breda cars had serious problems staying stuck together in a more than 2 car configuration, and somehow, only now, has the MTA bothered to even try and fix the problem.

(Or, if they had, despite all the Salaries, they failed for 15 years).

So while I applaud seeing an extension of service, and hope to maybe see a 3 car train on the N Judah line someday, I'm not going to hold my breath, and I'm certainly not going to jump for joy when my choco-ration is "increased" by 10 grams when it's actually been cut by 50.

October 6, 2012

So How Are You Gettting Around On This Busy Weekend?

It's no surprise that we're in the middle of the Weekend of Eleventy Billion People in SF. (If it is, you must have been asleep all this week). There are so many events going on, and about a million visitors expected to stop by in a city of less than a million to begin with, this is a really big test for Muni, BART, Caltrain, cabs, and bikes. The question remains - will this be the most amazing cluster-frak ever? Or will everyone come through?

I decided to go see the Blue Angels over on Beach St. by the Municipal Pier on Friday. It was crowded and there was some traffic, but I never waited too long for a Muni train or bus on my way out there. (Side note: if you can, get an outdoor table at The Pub SF, and you can enjoy a beer or lunch while watching the show).

After the show, we decided to take a long walk back through North Beach, and ended up just walking to Powell Station. The trains were definitely a bit more crowded than normal rush hour, but not much. Also, at Civic Center, the station had really good signage directing people to the special buses for the America's Cup race, and other events.

What's been your experience? Describe tales of wonder or woe in the comments section!

March 20, 2012

Thinking Out Loud: Would Covering Hallidie Plaza Be A Good Idea?

Just this morning I got an update from the SFMTA about some planned maintenance and upgrades to the escalators at Hallidie Plaza, and as I read through the press release, I began to wonder - would covering up the plaza really be so bad?

Despite all the best intentions and efforts, as is, the "plaza" isn't much to look at, and isn't very pleasant. On a rainy day it becomes the world's biggest puddle, and I don't see many people enjoying it, save for the usual band of homeless people, who don't like it either (or so I've been told by said folks). Hence, my thinking out loud - what if instead we kept all the escalators and the elevator, and covered up the whole thing and made a nice park on top instead?

As I Googled around on this issue it seems I'm not the only person who's discussed this in the past. The Chronicle's John King brought up similar issues when the Newsom administration made some moves to try and improve the place. He, like I, called for the City to hit the reset button and start over.

This isn't the most pressing issue in the world, but a better urban infrastructure inevitably leads to more improvements, public and private. If nothing else, it would make the Powell Street station and the Cable Car turnaround a bit more pleasant.

If you had a reset button for Hallidie Plaza, what would you do?

November 17, 2011

Strange Things Are Afoot at the Old Style Muni Shelter at 9th & Irving...

busshelterwrap.JPGWhile waiting for the N last week I noticed that the old-style bus shelter was wrapped with ads for K-Mart, replete with QR codes, wrapping the glass on the shelter. It seems a bit strange the MTA would be doing this now, all the while tearing down these shelters for the new ones, albeit on a slowwwww timetable.

Anyone seen these wraps anywhere else?

August 29, 2011

The Darwin Awards Come to Muni & Caltrain, It Seems...

Recently I was on the N inbound, on my way downtown to do one of several tedious errands one Thursday (side note: Chase Bank sucks, bigtime, avoid them if you can), and was on a packed train. As we entered the tunnel, the operator announced something I never thought I'd hear:

"We have to slow down, folks, because someone is walking on the outbound tracks. Sorry for the delay."

Wait, WHAT?

At first I thought he meant "someone is on the tracks because they are contemplating something horrible etc" but no, he in fact meant that someone decided to take a stroll through Sunset Tunnel in the middle of the day. REALLY.

We sped up slightly as he announced that this Genius of Pedestrianism decided to walk on the outbound tracks, presumably because she realized, oh, I dunno, there was a double train weighing millions of tons right behind her?

As we passed by upon our arrival, our travel time delayed by someone dumb enough to walk through an active train tunnel in the middle of the day, some of us opted to give her a one finger salute, while others just had to stare at someone who is either crazy, dumb, or obnoxious to do such a thing.

Not only did they endanger themselves, had our operator not spotted her in time, he could have easily been involved in an accident that would have consequences for those of us onboard as well as fatal consequences for Ms. Darwin. Of course she had that serene look of "it's all about me, I don't care what I do, screw everyone else" on her face that too many San Franciscans have. And of course if something DID happen, the SF Internet's Band of Commenters would have of course immediately blamed Muni, when in fact it would have been the fault of the idiot walking in the tunnel.

A few days later, I had another Darwin contender. This time I was waiting for the N outbound at Judah and 9th. I watched in astonishment as Ms. iPod crossed the street against the light and RIGHT IN FRONT of an oncoming N. The operator frantically blared the air horn, but of course, she was in her own little world of Justin Bieber and was not paying attention. Even crazier, once she'd crossed she walked on the tracks in front of the train, totally clueless as to how near death she'd been.

I tapped her on the shoulder and said "you should be more careful, we don't wan't you to die by Muni LRV!" in a nice way but she was oblivious. The sound from her iPod was so loud, I doubt she could hear anything. Again, if not for the cosmos looking out for her, she could have easily been killed.

I do not understand how people in a dense urban environment can wander about, be it on foot, by car, or by bike and live in this little fog bank of their own making, completely unaware of what is going on around them and just expect Everyone Else will look out for them. It's crazy, but what's worse, if and when any of these folks are subjected to horrific injuries or death, not only would that be a horrible thing to happen, but Muni (aka all of us ) would be expected to pay the price.

It'd be nice to think there was some solution that The Government could come up with, but at this point you could have neon billboards in 50 languages telling people to do or not do something, and that indefatigable "me me me the rules don't apply to me" mentality of many people these days would render them useless. I just think it's unfortunate we have an unofficial death penalty for dumb behavior, but those can be the consequences when you walk in a tunnel.

PS: Please note that the truly sad situation about the woman who was struck and killed by a Muni bus last week doesn't fall into this category of situation, so don't send in nasty emails saying I think she "deserved" it - she did not.

From all accounts so far that bus was on a street it should not have been - cars have trouble on Hartford as it is - and it sounds more and more like a management/operator failure that resulted in tragedy.

June 16, 2011

If You're Headed Home Tonight to the Westside, You Might Want to Use A Surface Bus!

Based on tweets from various folks I follow on The Twitter, as well as a report from the Examiner, the Muni Metro tunnel is pretty much closed from Embacadero to Castro Station, after an N pulled out cables and concrete from a wall (?!?) in the tunnel. Sure there's a bus bridge, but you know how that ends up.

Right now your best bet is to take a surface bus home to the westside. I guess that N Judah Express Bus is coming in handy today - hopefully it can handle the load as people try to get home. Personally I'd take any one of a number of buses - the 6 Parnassus can take you from downtown to the Inner Sunset, the 71 can take you there too, and to points of interest in the Outer Sunset. If you're headed to the Way Outer Sunset, then the new NX is your best bet.

If you want to get really crazy and are over in the Financial district, you could take a 1 California to the 44 O'Shaughnessy, but that's a bit of a stretch.

Personally, I find this particular catastrophic Muni blowout to be ironic, given how Soon To Be Ex CEO Nat Ford was spending all day today spinning his years in office. Joe Eskenazi at the Weekly, however, expertly called BS on that today.

May 13, 2011

Reader Mail: A Little Help Regarding Bay To Breakers, Please?

Reader Anonymous sent in this note the other day expressing confusion regarding the various transit options as presented by Zazzle and the SFMTA. I took a look at the web pages in question myself and this seems like a case of a lot of options being presented in such a way that to the average reader, they come off as confusing, but that's because I speak "bureaucrat" as a second language. In terms of presenting data to humans, it's not as clear as it could be.

First, Reader Anonymous's letter:

Greg,

Muni is kinda dropping the ball on how to get from the sunset to the starting line.
Was reading and now totally confused. 10$ no matter what from inner sunset?
Do I buy in advance? Can I use my Clipper? Can I get off at Powell?
Each site says something different.
Then no twitter mention of it at all on sfmta or anything. And nothing on mfnta or 511 homepages.

and then this was forwarded to me...
http://www.sfmta.com/cms/malerts/SFMuniBaytoBreakers.htm

how that site was found, I do not know. I could not find it starting on their homepage.

and then this info...

http://www.baytobreakers100.com/BtB2011_transport.html
http://zazzlebaytobreakers.com/index.php?page=transportation-parking

So ten bucks if I hop on at 9th and irving? Do I need to get a sticker before? Can I buy on muni? I guess can't use clipper card?

last year..
http://sfist.com/2010/05/14/bay_to_breakers_pubglic_transit_cha.php
$7

Muni just bumming me out right now.

and on top of that, parking for registered runners is $10 downtown. Not really motivation to take public transit.

Thanks.

See you at B2B

I took a look since I hadn't been paying a lot of attention to Bay To Breakers, aside from just knowing that Sunday's going to be crazy no matter what and I could see where people would get confused. What jumped out at me, however is that it appears to read that if you want to ride the special express buses, you can't use a Clipper card to pay for the service, you have to pay $10 for what amounts to an all day pass good until 5pm on Sunday. Fine, but then I read WHERE to buy these and this is what I came up with via the SFMTA site:

Pre-Race sales locations, 5 to 8 a.m.

Van Ness Station.
Castro Station.
West Portal Station.
Post-Race sales locations, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Fulton @ 30th Avenue.

It would seem to me if these "special event stickers" are a Golden Ticket to Muni fun pre- or post- race, they'd be sold in a few more locations. Put another way, how would an out-of-towner know where to go to buy one of these things? Why can't they just tell people to use their Clipper Card? People can already get a "temp" Clipper Card at BART stations, it would seem that would have been the best way to go, but then again I'm not paid a six figure salary to figure these things out.

I haven't done Bay to Breakers in literally decades, mostly because I don't like crowds that have the potential to become a riot or a zombie apocalypse (but the race is cool and I do like to watch it on TV to see drunk people in costume). But it would seem that when presenting the public with options, spending a little more time putting some thought into presenting that data online would make it easier for people to understand their options.

Best advice I can give is this: Whatever mode you choose (Muni, Bauer, etc) for all that is good in the world DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE AND PARK AT THE START OR FINISH LINES. Just don't. Not because of "the environment" but because you'll be dooming yourself to a world of pain no one should have to endure.

May 9, 2011

An Open Letter To One of The Best N Judah Operators Ever!

Dear Awesome N Judah Operator From Today:

Hi!

You don't know me, but I'm possibly your biggest fan. No, scratch that. I know many people who are regular riders of the N who are your biggest fans, too. No, scratch that, you have a lot of fans out there who when I describe you and know who I'm talking about. And yet I don't know your name or what you look like (since I usually board in the 2nd car).

So, let me tell you why you are the kind of Muni professional that represents what happens when good people do a great job for the owner/riders, based on today's inbound ride from Irving/7th to Duboce/Church. You operated the train at a safe speed, and we never fell forward from a sudden stop.

When we got to stops, you announced in a clear and easy to understand voice connecting trains or other things a passenger might need to know, such as when we approached UCSF. On top of that, you also reinforced the rules regarding senior and disabled seats which I've never heard other operators do (I'm not saying this doesn't happen, I just haven't heard it personally because I dont' ride every train and bus every day).

My only regret was that I could get to the front car in time before you departed Duboce and Church to either take your picture or at least say "good job" before the train had to leave. So instead, I Twittered 311, and later called them as well, because I think people who do a great job deserve a commendation. Too often, I see the bad apples get all the attention while people who actually do the job are left in the dark.

So today, Muni N Operator let me just say, on behalf of all of us who rely on the N, whenever we board and hear your voice, we know we're not riding the failwhale for our ride. Thanks, and please, keep up the good work.

Sincerely,

The N Judah Chronicles

PS: In a related #muniwin, a big high five to the young person who helped the seniors having trouble bording on the outbound N this afternoon. Way to be a helpful owner/rider!

May 2, 2011

Having the Crappiest Monday Ever on Muni and in SF...

nsardinecan.jpgToday had to be the worst Monday in a while. Ok that's a bit of an overstatement. More than once, though, I thought I could hear the theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm playing in the background, though.

Everything started off with an eerie calm - I got up and all of the sudden things got very quiet in the neighborhood - no delivery trucks, no garbage trucks, no cars, no N Judah and a bunch of police officers on my block. Odd. As it turned out, there was a "suspicious package" on Irving around the corner from my place, and they'd cleared the area and were keeping people out of potential harm's way. At least tweeting about it was easy since I could just sit in the bay window and watch, but still, it made a lot of people fairly miserable on their morning commute. Sensing opportunity, Muni used the chaos to invent a new way to screw up West Portal trains, causing more commuting misery.

I had some critical business to take care of today, but a last minute call about a potential job meant I had to stay at home and rush to create a proposal, even though I really needed to get downtown ASAP. OF COURSE this mean the computer began to be uncooperative, etc. etc. I managed to get it out the door quickly, but I always have that lingering worry of "did I proof it enough."

I managed to complete some business at the bank without any trouble because my bank is awesome, but then had a nice long wait for the N Judah with the Operator from Hell. While waiting, I noticed something odd. There was this kid in a brand new white BMW that was double parked in front of Pluto's. I figured he was waiting for someone. While he was there, a DPT officer was handing out tickets. Ironically, he didn't give a ticket to the double parker. He did, however begin to write a ticket for a City car, but the City employee ran out and yelled at him. After a while, the City employee's car wasn't ticketed. Hmm.

It got better. Double Parker did an illegal U-Turn (almost causing an accident) and double parked on the other side of the street. Mind you, by now there were plenty of spaces available- 2 across the street and one 1 car down from where he was double parked on the south side of Irving. He kept doing this little double parking ballet dance until finally a spot opened in front of Pluto's.

By now I could barely contain my laughter at this over privileged kid in his stupid BMW, wasting gas and causing traffic problems, all so he could get a spot right in front of Pluto's and refused to take one one door down from the place. As he walked by I said "something wrong with this spot here?" and he glared at me with all the rage a 20-nothing nerd could do and mumbled something bout "not wanting to waste time walking to his car."

Really?

Continue reading "Having the Crappiest Monday Ever on Muni and in SF..." »

April 8, 2011

Muni's Best at 8th and Irving!

muniwin.JPGJust now I saw an example of Muni doing Something Right. It was a perfect snapshot of what's right, and what's wrong with Our Fair City.

I was all set to cook dinner when I realized I was missing an ingredient, so I decided to head to the corner store and buy it, when I heard sirens. Whenever I hear sirens, I'm always one to look and see if said fire engines and ambulances are headed my way or not. In this case, they were. I also noticed the N inbound stopped and the operator directing traffic around the streetcar. My first guess was that somehow the N had lost power, and that the emergency vehicles would have to pass it to keep going. As it turned out, the N WAS the intended destination, due to a medical emergency on board, and the operator was out there directing traffic and flagging the emergency crew.

Fortunately for those of us in San Francisco, when an emergency happens, the response times in this city are pretty spectacular, and the emergency folks were able to help a passenger in distress who, while not well, wasn't dead or anything. Watching this, all I could think of was how this Muni operator and the owner/riders stepped up and helped a fellow citizen in distress, instead of ignoring it (or worse). All I could think of was how great San Francisco was, and how as always, Muni, the MTA "management," and TWU's "leadership" will never recognize this operator for his good work in helping someone out.

Oh well.

March 5, 2011

Alert! Muni Construction on the N at Duboce and Church March 8th!

N Judah commuters and fans should be aware that there is going to be construction of some sort on March 8th, from 9am-3pm.

Earlier bulletins had indicated this was going to be on March 7th, but it has been changed. It's not clear if this means we have the buses again or not, but I'll email Muni again and see what the deal is. Until then, plan ahead, and perhaps avoid the N that day if you can.

March 1, 2011

What Does It Take To Get People to Stop Plowing Through Passengers at Muni Stops?

The other day I got an email from a Concerned Reader, who noted that while waiting for the N the other day, they noticed several cars plow past a stopped N that was deboarding passengers. When one of the drivers of said cars was stopped by an off-duty Muni employee, who told the car driver what they were doing was both illegal and unsafe. The response? A laugh and a "oh f-you" attitude. Wonderful.

I have to say that in some places, the problem seems particularly acute, despite those stickers on the backs of the trains, a solid percentage of clueless drivers just plow through, stuck in their little haze of cell phone use and/or a clear inability to grasp the concept of driving in a dense urban area. I don't fault the stickers - you could have a giant neon sign pop up in several languages saying "don't pass the train, dimwits, you might hit someone" and they'd still do it. Once I saw a particularly egregious violation and I was seriously tempted to grab a bottle of juice out of my grocery bag and chuck it at the car (who almost ran over a couple of kids) but common sense won the day and I didn't do it.

Maybe the solution is something a bit different - perhaps it's time we make it significantly more difficult to get a driver's license, and require people to actually know something about safety before being allowed to drive their cars on the road. I realize that the concept of teaching people how to drive and issuing a license saying they're able to is completely foreign to Americans, but it's worth looking into. Also: perhaps it's time to stop jerking people around on parking tickets, and instead save the big fines for serious moving violations that put everyone at risk (cars, bikes, people, transit). I think we'd have a safer city fairly quickly, for sure.

PS: And yes, bicyclists can be jerks too, and yes some pedestrians can be jerks too, and yes Muni operators etc. etc. etc. but it's not necessary to go through each of these any time one talks about auto safety. I mean, even the AAA would agree that no one is served by people driving dangerously, right?

February 25, 2011

Rare 3 Car N Spotted In The Wild! Also: Snowpocalypse SF 2011!

I spent all morning running errands downtown, so I took an F-line to Safeway on the way back. While awaiting the N at Church and Duboce, some of the preliminary work for this weekend's Construction Marathon was going on.

First, there was a 1 car N that sped by inbound, PACKED full of people. But next was an actual 3 car N, also going inbound right behind it (but not taking passengers).

This is a rather rare sighting, in fact in my entire time in San Francisco I can't recall ever seeing one (or if I did, those brain cells pushed the memory out to remember some Battlestar Galactica trivia). From what I've been told, 3 car N's (or any LRV line) were supposed to be more common during rush hour, etc. but they had trouble staying together, etc.

I have some notes about this from the article last year, but I'll be damned if I can find them. Hint: don't reorganize your filing system in such a way that everything is where it's supposed to be, and yet you still can't find anything quickly!

Also, this tweet about Snowpocalypse SF 2011 seems to be quite popular arount Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr...

News You Can Use: Critical Mass TONIGHT, Construction at Duboce/Church this Weekend!

There's a few things you should know during NonSnowpacalypse Friday...obviously today is Critical Mass day, so be aware of that as you plan your trip home if you're downtown.

More importantly, there is major construction at Duboce and Church this weekend that will affect both the N and J lines. The MTA sent out this bulletin detailing just what is happening. Read it carefully - when the N is replaced by a bus it is significantly slower because it has to cut through Haight Street (and then you realize WHY they built the Sunset Tunnel!). Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'll just post the bulletin so you'll know what's up?

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates Muni, has scheduled rail maintenance work on Church Street and Duboce Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 26 and Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.

Muni will adjust service on the J Church and the N Judah rail lines for the weekend.

What to expect:

Muni J & N Line Subway Service
· J and N trains will operate in the Muni Metro Tunnel between the Embarcadero Station and Castro Station.
· Train destinations signs will read: Shuttle Train.
· Church Street Station is the transfer point to street level service to the outer terminals for both the J and N lines.

Muni J Line Street Level Service
· J Line customers can continue their trip at the regular outbound stop on Church Street at Market Street.
· J Line trains will service all stops between Church and Market streets and the Balboa Park Station.
· The last inbound stop will be at Church and Market streets, and customers can continue downtown by transferring to the Shuttle Train in the Church Street Station.
· Accessible service for customers with disabilities will be provided by the J Supplemental Shuttle Bus. The northbound Shuttle Bus will depart from 18th and Church streets. The next stop will be at Market and Church. The southbound Shuttle Bus will be at a temporary terminal on Church Street just south of Market. The next stop will be at 18th and Church.
· Transfer locations for the Muni 22 Fillmore bus route are at the Church and Market streets islands.

N Line Street Level Service
· N Judah Line trains will not operate between Church Street Station and Ocean Beach.
· N Line customers can travel by Shuttle Bus between Ocean Beach and Church Street Station, then transfer to inbound subway service. The only missed stop will be at the east portal of Sunset Tunnel.
· Inbound and outbound N Line customers can catch Shuttle Bus service at the temporary terminal at 14th and Church streets

Other Service
· Muni Route 22 Fillmore bus customers should expect delays. Electric trolley coaches will serve the route during the day, and Owl service will be on motor coaches.
· There are no changes to service on K, L, M and T line trains, Muni N Owl Bus and Route 37 Corbett service.
· Look for extra Shuttle Trains running between Embarcadero to Church Street Station.
· Please look for directional signs to temporary bus stops.
· SFMTA Ambassadors will be in the area to provide information and to assist customers in making connections on Muni bus and rail service.

CONSTRUCTION
What to expect:
· Duboce Avenue between Church and Fillmore will be closed to motor vehicles all weekend.
· Vehicular traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction on Church Street between Market and Hermann streets.
· Police officers will be on site directing traffic.
· Some street parking will not be available in or near construction zones, specifically on Church Street between Duboce and south of Market.
· Residents close to construction will be subject to some noise.
· Local access will be granted.
· Local businesses will be open.

So, to sum up-everything's "normal" today (Friday), construction is on Saturday/Sunday, and the N will still work in the subway, it's just that once you get to Duboce/Church, you have to board a bus outbound (and vice versa).

As for snow, if it does snow (which it isn't) just be prepared for assorted unpredictable mayhem, similar to when it's sunny, it rains, it's windy, or there's Giants fever.

February 22, 2011

A Modest Proposal to Help Fund Muni: Fine Nail Clippings!

Friends, hear me out on this one: Earlier today I read Yet Another Tweet about people clipping their nails (fingers and toes) on Muni. Now, for the life of me I can't even begin to understand how this happens, or why.

Seriously. I mean, are people's lives so busy they can't take the time to take care of this part of their personal hygiene at home? REALLY? I mean, I can't even imagine sneezing on a Muni bus (I've literally de-boarded the N when I have a cold or whatnot) because I don't want to annoy my fellow Muni Owner/Riders on the N. And yet, the Nail Clipping Brigade is one of the most constant complaints about Muni, up there with #munifail, short turns at 19th Avenue, a dysfunctional management, and the constant "pay more/get less" frustration that Muni Owner/Riders experience every day.

Our friends at Muni Manners pointed out just how rude this is a while back, and anyone who writes about Muni has confronted this human rights violation. (OK, "human rights violation" may sound a bit trite as people are litereally dying to defend Real Human Rights, so perhaps we can qualify this as a "San Francisco Human Rights Violation" because really, it's not like anyone's dying over this, but it still sucks.)

Earlier today, I posted this mild tweet suggesting that perhaps Muni could raise some cash for the cash-strapped system by issuing a fine to said evil-doers per nail clipped. Needless to say, said tweet generated quite a response.

But let's be serious for a moment - I'm no fan of parking fines to pay Muni, yes, but fining those who make our collective lives miserable, be they traffic scofflaws on various wheeled entities, or those who abuse Our Muni with vile behavior, such as vandalism, urine and nail clippings? I say go for it. Yes, it's Our Muni, but as owners we have responsibilities as well as rights. Maybe if we provided a better carrot/stick approach, everyone would win?

Yes, I'm being a bit satirical, but it's worth considering. I realize this offends people of the "Coddle the Criminal" faction at City Hall, but who cares what they think? Their irrelevance is clear - and our Muni needs some cash. Hey, is it any crazier than selling sodas in the stations? I think not!

January 24, 2011

Teaching ESL on the 18 to the Legion of Honor

Since I knew today was going to be another one of these amazing January days of sun, I got up early and got all my work done as fast as I could so I could go out this afternoon and take some photos and just enjoy the sun (since we may not have any this summer).

I started out taking the N to Ocean Beach, where the N was having a beach party for 3 trains all stacked up waiting to return downtown. On a whim, I decided to take the 18 to the Legion of Honor and take some more photos, so I got on the bus when it showed up.

As we were leaving the Outer Sunset (and I dare anyone at the Times to call it "bleak" today) a woman tapped me on the back and said "excuse me, can you help me with something?" I assumed she was going to ask for directions, as that is the most common thing I tend to be asked, and it looked like she had a map or something in a folder.

Instead, she was asking for help with her ESL homework. Now I have to say, in my entire life, that has to be the most unusual thing anyone has asked me on a bus, or anywhere. So, I figured what the heck and she showed me what she was working on. From what I could tell, the assignment was to read an essay that uses metaphors, and a bit more abstract language, and then write about what it meant.

I took a look at her notes and she had actually done fairly well so far, but there were certain words that she couldn't decipher, and some of the phrases as well. Now, being the writing critic I tend to be, I have to say, whoever wrote this essay should have been edited a bit because some of the sentences, in an attempt to sound big and artistic, just sounded stupid. But I pushed that aside and we went over a couple of words.

For example, one of the words was "instructive." So I asked her "well, do you know the word 'instructor?" and she said yes. One we established that I wrote down the words:

- instructor - someone who tells you what to do

- instruction - something you read that tells you what to do

- instructive - how you describe something that tells you what to do

Obviously these are simplified, but hey we were on the bus! If we had more time I'd explain this is from a Latin word, etc etc etc.

Once she saw that then she got it. I showed how all these words have the same root, and the modifier changes the word ever so slightly. She had that "lightbulb" moment when I explained how many words are like this so it's easier to figure out what they mean.

We did a few more and then I said "you're doing fine, but remember this- English borrows words and grammar from many langauges, and sometimes uses the same words for different meantings, or worse two words that sound the same that have nothing to do with each other. That's why it's not an easy language to learn - every rule has an exception."

She looked at me and said "You said it!"

We then tackled one last thing - a terribly worded sentence about memory and so on. This is when I did something that will blow my high school English teacher's mind, and will be waved around by English teachers (what few that even do this) around the country:

I diagrammed the sentence.

Now this wasn't an according to Hoyle diagram, but I was showing her how the two halves related to create a sort of paradox. It was perhaps more of an equation than anything else, but once we went through it , she got it.

Before the bus got to the Legion she had to get off, but said "Thank you so much! I think you explained this English to me more here on the bus than I learned in class the other day!"

And with that, she was off.

I never really thought of teaching English, but I have to say it was kind of fun in a way, especially when you basically tell people "hey, English is a great language but it has some crazy ass rules" it seems to make them lighten up a little and realize that they're not going insane.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Legion, then took the 18 back, getting off at Balboa. My original plan was to buy a soda and take a 31 to the 44, but it was so nice out and I was feeling great so I ended up walking from way out there to 7th to grab the 44 instead. It was a nice walk, very quiet, and I took some pictures of the more interesting buildings and whatnots out there.

Overall a great way to spend one of these non-blizzard, non-bleak days in Not New York.

January 13, 2011

Guest Blogger Roundup: What Would YOU Ask Mayor Ed Lee?

Mayor Ed Lee is in fact an interim Mayor until a new one is elected in November 2011. This we all know.

However, it's not like Muni and the MTA are in a holding pattern - things are happening RIGHT NOW that affect your commute and your daily life. Is this the time to allow Muni and the MTA to act on behalf of the few, the bureaucrats and the do nothings?

NO!

That's where you come in. Next week I want to feature short, snappy posts from you, the owner/riders of Muni in addition to the day-to-day posting we have here at the N Judah Chronicles to ask Mayor Lee (whom we've already asked to ride Muni with us!) answers to the questions that vex the Muni Owner/Rider. This isn't the province of the "gotcha" question - instead this is a chance to see what will happen in the next year, and influence whomever becomes the next Mayor after the election in 2011.

So, it's on you, my fellow Muni owner/riders! I'll have my own questions, to be sure, but for now, let's ask Mayor Lee when he'll be riding Muni with us, and what he wants to do to make Muni better NOW!

January 11, 2011

What REALLY Happened At Yesterday's Hearing at the Board of Supervisors

You can read the Chronicle's account of what happened at yesterday's City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee of the Board of Supervisors, but you won't really hear what actually happened there. Yes, you get the party line from Muni management, in particular John Haley, the Director of Transit. You can watch the spectacle online at SFGOVTV.org

What you didn't hear about, however, was the fact that said Director of Transit not only was poorly prepared for the hearing, he often refused to even bother to answer questions of the two supervisors on the committee, Supervisor Carmen Chu (also comittee chair) and Supervisor John Avalos. Several times during the hearing, one or both would have to call BS and demand, more than once that their questions actually be answered.

Also, another typical Muni tactic was employed during the "presentation" - the use of stale facts to reinforce their facade that "everything is ok." In this case, they used only a few months of data from September-December 2010 to somehow gloss over the fact that a) short turns are a problem and b) we've had a ton of meetings and a lot of promises about this problem that Muni has failed keep, and led to this hearing in the first place! Another tactic: using only SF311 calls to count complaints, essentially saying to anyone who used any one of a number of ways to contact Muni (via a Supervsior, etc) "we're stacking the deck against you." Fail, fail fail. And on it went.

Overall, though, what I came away with after sitting through this hearing was a distinct lack of faith in Muni's management. It's very clear that their so-called "policy" of not short turning trains only when there's a train five minutes behind is just words on paper - anyone dumped off late at night who has to walk to La Playa from 19th Avenue knows that. But when even a Supervisor can't get an answer out of Muni management, how the heck can we, as the mere owners of Muni, expect any respect?

However, the meeting also had some highlights, too. For one, we saw what it's like when Supervisors aren't passing useless "non binding resolutions" and headline grabbing BS, and instead working for the good of the City. Supervisor Chu, in particular, deserves praise for staying on top of this issue and not just letting it slip by after past bogus meetings. Supervisor John Avalos also deserves some praise for being ready to get in Muni's face about their promises, their lack of responsiveness and making a basic point - we can't expect people to use a transit system that's unreliable, and then turn around and start talking about things like congestion pricing that would essentially discriminate against those in the west and southwest of the city. Sitting in the audience, I realized THIS is what it's like when City govenrment represents the people for a change, and it sure felt good.

It was also nice to see some members of the public speak out too, many of whom read the blog, and all of whom used a variant of the term "owner/rider" in their comments. I finally got to meet my twitter friend Katie, who gave a concise and eloquent account of the effect short turns have on the disabled. In a bitter, ironic twist, she was short turned at West Portal on the way home from work later that evening. No, really.

Going forward, I think there's a few things we can do to try and keep this issue on the minds of the well-paid folks at Muni management. One is to flood 311 and every email inbox we can find for Muni and the Supervisors and the Mayor every single time this happens. The other is to start asking our new Mayor to consider cleaning house at Muni. We have already passed a difficult proposition that will, over time, bring some sanity to work rules and the like. Now it is time to take a hard look at the well paid management, in particular, Mr. Ford, and evaluate if we're getting value for the money we're spending up there.

No one "hearing" can solve anything, but it's good to know that Sup. Chu will be keeping this issue alive as we go forward in 2011, with a new Mayor, a new Board, and the potential for another new Mayor this fall.

December 22, 2010

Annual "Happy Now" Party at 6th and Irving on December 26th

In what is becoming a sort of annual tradition in the Inner Sunset, the House Formerly Known as Yes We Can on 6th and Irving is hosting another free community event, the Happy "Now" Year party on December 26th from 6-9pm.

They'll be tenting their large back yard and will have heaters, so you don't have to freeze in the rain while watching the live music or meeting your neighbors. Best of all, it's just down the street from one of the best decorated houses in the area right around the corner, which you can view on your way over. Feel free to bring a dessert with you to share!

November 23, 2010

Is the Yahoo Bus Derby Rigged Against Us? Maybe, Maybe Not...

map-yahoo.jpgSo I was reading my daily Google News Alert about all things Muni related, and I found a post at Funcheap SF about something called the Yahoo! Bus Derby, whereby 20 bus shelters are outfitted with 20 giant touch screens where you can play all sorts of games in the rain, and represent your neighborhood while scoring points. The highest scoring neighborhood gets a concert of some sort.

Now, aside from the bemused reaction of some around here ("does this mean 20 touch screens will be for sale at Craigslist later this week?"), it was hard not to notice that not one of these things is set up anywhere on the westside. I mean of all places, wouldn't Carl and Cole or UCSF stops on the N be perfect for this kind of time killer while you're waiting for the N?

That said, from all indications, the Richmond is winning in a landslide, so if you see one of these things, take a few moments and win some points for the Sunset...let's show those east coasters it's not "bleak" out here like they keep saying it is.

October 29, 2010

The Muni Subway System Is Failing Every Week. Who Do You Have to FIRE To Get This Fixed?

It's a well known fact that for every week for the last few weeks, Muni's owner/riders have experienced unbelieveable delays due to the fact the ancient computer running the system has failed. It's happening so often at this point, the only thing you can rely on is that there will be a big ol' failure - you just don't know when.

Now, we have a very well paid CEO, who makes more money than a Supreme Court Justice, and who is supposedly in charge of the MTA and Muni. Given that this system is failing so regularly, you think this dynamic CEO would use all the power he has to un-frak this situation, especially when there's the World Series going on. Instead, Ford and his upper management pals on the MTA board were conspiring to take away free game day tickets intended for front-line Muni workers to keep for himself. What, he can't afford a ticket of his own with that big salary of his? Classy.

At this point, you'd think more people at the MTA board, or even the Board of Supervisors would be hoppin' mad at this and be demanding that an action plan be made a priority to stop talking and start doing something about this. Instead we have our supervisors out of the loop, composing lots of lofty non-binding resolutions, and our downtown gang likewise silent on the issue (you think they would since the fails are DOWNTOWN).

What is the point of paying these big salaries to all these people up and down the pay scale at Muni if they're not going to even tackle basic problems like this? It's not like this is a sudden event - this problem has been going on for years. It's been talked to death, like many problems at Muni. Meanwhile we continue to find money for useless projects.

Seriously, though. Who has to get fired for us to get something moving around here? Clearly the current regime at the MTA Board and Nathaniel Ford aren't doing the job. They are doing a great job of driving down morale and mismanaging the agency at a time when we can't waste our pennies, much less our dollars.

October 7, 2010

Were You Affected by Today's Muni Power Outage Downtown?

I knew SOMETHING was up today when suddenly Irving Street didn't have the usual rhythm of Muni train traffic it does during the day. Then the Twitter was abuzz with reports, first of a "medical emergency," later corrected to a temporary power outage at Muni's Central Control, effectively shutting down all downtown trains.

Fortunately, it was fixed quickly, but the residual delays will be with us for awhile. Were you stuck downtown? What was your experience with the delays today?

September 28, 2010

Meditating on Mass Transit, Literally

entrynowhereinparticular.pngWhenever you have to take a ride on Muni, BART, et al, much of the anxiety and frustration comes from the fact that you really want to be somewhere else: work, school, meeting up with friends, etc. and hence all the angst. However, if you have one of those rare times where you don't have to be anywhere at all, sometimes a long ride on Muni or BART can actually be quite relaxing.

Snicker and snark all you like, but I have found that when the weather's nice and I have a rare Saturday or Sunday afternoon where I don't have anywhere to be or anything (fun) to do, a long ride on a train can actually be quite relaxing. Now, granted, you're not going to get many moments of Zen on some lines (and we all know which ones those are), but there are several lines that an "end to end" ride can be quite nice. Trains also have the benefit of a smoother ride, and often times some sort of air conditioning, which you never get on a bus.

This all started a few years ago, when I was visiting family on the Peninsula and it was an unusually hot, 100 degree day and I wanted to cool off, but I didn't feel like going to a movie theater. So I got on BART at Millbrae station with a Sunday paper, sat in the last train car, and rode it all the way to the end at Pittsburgh/Bay Point. Now, to be sure, once you get off the train there's not a lot in an around Pittsburgh/Bay Point station, but the point wasn't to go there, it was just to have an uninterrupted time with some relative calm, and it worked!

Even though I took the same line to Lafayette to work every day, without the pressure of "omg work teh stresses!" it was actually kind of nice and I noticed a lot of things I ignored previously during my day-to-day use of the line. Plus, I realized just how far away some of those suburban stations are…by the time I got to the end, it felt like I was on Mars or something.

Sometimes I think in all the hullabaloo about "transit" and other obscure ideas, we forget where we live and it's nice to simply take the time to relax, enjoy the ride, and remind ourselves why it is we live chose to move here, or why we stay. I did this again recently on another line and at a time when things have been extremely stressful and not much fun, it was a nice way to relax and it only cost me $5.

Continue reading "Meditating on Mass Transit, Literally " »

August 26, 2010

Two Awesome Muni Drivers That Deserve Some Recognition

IMG_1151.JPGThe other day I was taking the N home on one of those rare hot days we're known to have. We got on at Embarcadero Center and of course there were a lot of people waiting in a steamy station, and we knew that if we didn't get on ANY train that showed up, we'd be waiting forever, given that Muni loves to run empty J Trains and keep the N as crowded and slow as possible.

The fact we even were able to get on the train was a miracle, and soon we were packed to the rafters and off to the Sunset. Needless to say, this kind of unpleasant ride is SOP during rush hour, so complaining about it wasn't worth the trouble. However, little did we know we were about to be on a Muni train run by an actual professional. In this case, we had an operator who CLEARLY announced each stop, AND connecting trains and significant landmarks/destinations as well. Needless to say, it was a welcome sign. I remarked to my colleague how we were lucky to even hear the stops, much less the connecting lines. A toursit from Texas said "It's always nice to have a real person's voice on these things. These days you get the robot on the telephone most of the time." Indeed.

I'm kicking myself for not noting the number of the train they were on, because I wanted to call Muni and tell them to give this person some sort of recognition. It sickens me how the TWU leadership continually rewards the few bad apples, instead of getting recognition for the good people which would encourage excellent service. Then again, you could write a telephone book-sized thesis on just how out of touch the TWU leadership is with its own members, the labor movement, and reality in general. (For fun, read this piece about how the leadership - not the hardworking rank and file - are balking at restoring some service cuts. Really!)

The other story was related to me by a friend who was on the 22 a few days ago. The bus was crowded and he noticed two shifty types who were acting a bit strange. Then, he (as well as many others) noticed these guys were pickpockets, preying primarily on an elderly man and a few others. Now, everyone SAW it, but no one was saying anything, so my friend decided to tell the driver. He didn't know that he was telling the Jules Winnfield of bus drivers, though.

Immediately the driver stopped the bus. He then made sure the doors were locked, got up and said "THERE WILL BE NO PICKPOCKETING ON MY BUS!" then put out the signal to call the cops. The criminals were desperately trying to leave, but no dice. The police came and the elderly man got his wallet back. Needless to say, that is rather cool. But there's also an uncool part of this story - plenty of people clapped at the end and knew what was going on, but didn't do anything to help. Fortunately, we Muni owners had a professional on board that day, and two hoodlums were taken away by the SFPD.

I will repeat this until the day I die that the majority of Muni operators are good people who want to do a good job. The leadership of their union is a clueless aristocracy that is unqualified to be in charge of a two-car parade, much less the leadership of workers critical to making sure our Muni runs on time. The rank and file need to have a coup d'etat and remove these folks. They deserve better and so do we.

August 13, 2010

Friday Roundup: An Event on Irving, Outside Lands, Muni Rider Voter Guide, Etc.

Laundryshowpostcard-1.jpgThere's about half a dozen pieces of blogging detritus hopping around on my Mac's hard drive right now and not enough time to write a separate post for each one, so here's a short roundup on a number of topics.

First, however, is an art show I'd heard about last night at the Inner Sunset meetup at the Little Shamrock. Entitled "Dirty Laundry," it's an art show hosted by ART I.S. at Laundrapalooza (an actual laundromat), on Irving between 23rd and 24th. It's an interesting idea, to say the least and if you're in the neighborhood between 7 and 10 and aren't going to Outside Lands, you should check it out.

- Speaking of Outside Lands, this year's music festival starts tomorrow, August 14th and will last through the weekend. If you're coming out to the festival, don't be a fool and drive. THERE IS NOT GOING TO BE ANY PARKING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND TRAFFIC WILL SUCK. Both the Richmond SF blog and Akit's Complaint Department offer some suggestions on how to enjoy the festival, or at least not have it ruin your life if you live nearby. Personally, I think by only having it on the weekend, and leaving out Friday made it easier for everyone - the Friday commute isn't hosed and it sounds like this time around things will work out better than the first one a few years ago. Plus they have locals providing the food this time. Cool.

- My side project, the Muni Rider Voter Guide, received its first candidate questionnaire returned today. Candidate Jim Meko, running in District 6, sent in his responses just a day after receiving the questionnaire in the e-mail. I was curious to see who would do so, and decided to have a secret prize for the first respondent - a pre December 2009 cuts map of the Muni system which I'd obtained at the end of 2009 from the MTA via then-spokesman Judson True.

Not only is it laminated, in mint condition and easily framed, it is also a reminder that this recent chatter about "restoration of cuts" is not even close to the cuts they made back then - and labeled an "overhaul." Congratulations Mr. Meko and candidates, please send in your questionnaires so voters know how you stand on Muni issues.

-Another update: You may or may not recall a challenge I made to Muni management to actually ride Muni. In June, I marked off Day 42 of the challenge, having heard not a word from said bigwigs. I know, shocking, right?

Well now you can tack on another 45 days to that, bring us to Day 87 of no response from Muni management. You can also tack on 45 days for the long awaited answers regarding the Muni shelters on 9th and Irving as well. Tick tock, MTA!

Finally, this really doesn't have a lot to do with anything, but I collected the "The Social Network" movie trailer (My GOD that movie sounds like it's going to be snoreville) along with all the parodies, which are way more entertaining. Go to the Blog Some People Read, and check it out.

June 26, 2010

Is a Rally for Transit on Tuesday a Rally for YOU, the Muni Owner/Rider, or a Rally for Something Else?

So I got an email from the SF "Transit Rider's Union" the other day, asking me to attend a rally on June 29th at noon at the Federal Building on behalf of "funding transit" with Rev. Jesse Jackson. Sounds great, right? More money for Muni, less cuts, yes?

A closer inspection of the flyer, however, indicates this may not be what it claims to be. Yes, the rally is in support of a bill that would free up federal funds to pay day-to-day costs for a short time, instead of paying for infrastructure. That flies in the face of decades of federal transportation policy, but given how bad things are nationally, some people see it as a solution. However, it's a very short term solution that once again makes our local Muni dependent on outside sources of money, and it's one that won't last long anyway.

Let's take a closer look at the group this group that claims to be pro transit rider - it's the TWU national and local, and ATU locals and nationals (another transit union that mostly represents BART workers). The flyer talks mostly about getting operators paid, and makes only a few concessions to those who ride transit.

Does anyone else see the irony in this?

We had a chance to roll back cuts, acting locally. If the TWU (the only union in the City that doesn't participate in collective bargaining and the only Muni union to avoid any hardship) had agreed to some short term give-backs, we could have rolled back recent service cuts.

If the Mayor could pull the flagpole out of his backside and stop blocking a rational, well-studied expansion of parking meters, we could have rolled back recent cuts. (Both packages ended up being about the same amount of money).

If we'd put aside our locally generated sense of greed and entitlement, and done BOTH, we could roll back even more cuts, or reduce monthly pass costs a little. Or something else sensible. Yes, these too are short term solutions, but it would have helped Muni do that whole "get owner/riders to their destination on time thing" better, and been a decent local stop-gap until a permanent local funding replacement for looted state operating funds could be restored.

Of course that didn't happen. The Mayor threw one of his patented hissy fit+fatwas aimed at anyone who suggestewd "parking meters" as a response to the crisis, and the TWU threw their own temper tantrum and literally said "the budget problems aren't our problem" in response.

Wow. This is the City That Knows How?

I'll repeat once more - driver pay is not the main cause of Muni's problems. But excessive, unplanned overtime is costing the agency millions of dollars it no longer has, and asking Muni operators to engage in collective bargaining is not unreasonable.

Public service unions, and in particular Muni's unions, have to understand that the great majority of us don't have pensions, do not have guaranteed pay and work, and are operating under extreme duress during Great Depression II. We are being forced to sacrifice more and more in the way of taxes, fees, fines, and fares, and get less and less service. Meanwhile, we see others who continue to be able to get paid not to do their jobs, or do them poorly (conduct which would get us fired in a minute) and screaming protests saying "give me more" begin to fall on deaf ears, even progressive ones.

More importantly, we seem to have a group that claims to be for us the Muni owner/rider, but at every opportunity, seems to think "working in coalition" with Muni unions means "do whatever they want because their union president is on our board. That is NOT what it means.

A true, honest, coalition means everyone helping each other in common cause and recognize that a functioning Muni that serves the owner/riders is the end goal - not just helping one pressure group over another for their own selfish ends. I believe it's possible for everyone to find some common cause on making Muni a world-class system, and I'm willing to work with anyone who wants that goal.

I do not, however, believe that the bullying tactics of extremist organizations and unions who tell me I have to accept higher fares and attacks on reasonable reforms serves anyone.

Until San Francisco's alphabet soup of groups and activists realize what true solidarity and coalition building mean, continue to watch as people claiming to be your friend are simply using you to prop up a few loud groups - all at your expense.

June 12, 2010

Why TWU Local 250A's "FU" to Muni Owner/Riders Is a Good Thing! Really!

If you've not heard already, then you should know that a plan to eliminate some of the service cuts imposed by Nate Ford, Gavin Newsom and the MTA with some givebacks by our Muni operators was voted down on Friday.

While I've never bought in to that whole bag of Gate-commenter nonsense that "driver pay" was the only thing crippling Muni's finances (it isn't), the one-time givebacks asked for weren't that bad. At the very least, it'd have been a show of support for both the riders, and for other unions, since other unionized employees have suffered layoffs and pay cuts, all the while TWU Local 250A is getting pay raises and big overtime bonuses.

No other unionized group working for the City has this deal - they also took pay cuts and layoffs during a horrific economic crisis. Plus, Muni runs like crap now, with endless delays and cutbacks that cripple many of the community routes people rely on.

So here was a chance for the much-scrutinzed Muni operators to show a little good faith effort and share the pain and they chose instead to endorse service cuts and a nice, big "f*ck you" to other unions and most importantly, to you, the owner/rider of Muni. "Why," you ask "is this a good thing?"

Simple. We now know where their true loyalties lie, which means now, we also know where the loyalties of so-called "Transit Rider Unions" lie too. Since Muni is the fashionable cause of the year, we have many little groups running around claiming to be All About Muni. But look close and you'll find that one, the SF "Transit Rider's Union," counts in its leadership the head of TWU Local 250A, and another, called "MORE" is nothing more than a front group for the ultra-leftists in town (who never cared about Muni ever) and for TWU.

In other cities, TWU actually IS a friend of the owner/rider of other transit systems (no really, I'm not making this up), but not here. When you see a group use bullying tactics and scream racism because they don't want to negotiate with collective bargaining like EVERY OTHER F*CKING UNION IN THE NATION, and defend an arcane pay system that results in "pay me not to work" rules and endless overtime, you realize these folks simply don't care about Muni, or you, the owner/rider. (Remember, these are the people who told you to "get a damn car" in response to actions that delayed a morning commute).

Their actions also ensure that ballot measures to create new sources of stable revenue for Muni won't pass, because people will look at this and think that Muni is just wasting a lot of money. (It does dumb things, but stealing away a good portion of the budge via work orders and Sacramento really causes the most damage).

As such, they deserve no representation in any group that claims to speak for us. They are free to work with a rider's group, but not dictate to it. They already have a group for them - we need a group that speaks up for the 700,000 owner/riders that have been forced to accept a slow, expensive, poorly managed mass transit system in a city of only 49 square miles.

So while I'm sorry to see that some service cuts won't be healed anytime soon, at least we now have on the record where one group stands - which is not with us. They are entitled to do that. We, however, are entitled to take back our Muni from the politicians and the do-nothings, and fix it.

PS: I'd love to have seen the upper management of Muni, and Prince Gavin do a pay cut too, but of course that never happens.

PS2: A reader noted that out of about 2000 operators only 1200+ voted. I guess that whole "pay me not to work" thing extends to union activities too?

May 20, 2010

Pictures from Today's Accident on the N at Funston and Judah

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0520000905.jpg Reader Scott provides us with some photos and a first-hand account of today's scene, where a minibus and an N Judah train had an accident over by St. Anne's and Funston Avenue. It has not been determined which driver was at fault, but Scott does provide some insight into how these situations can be handled, or not handled:
Coming back from dropping my kids off at school, I came up 14th Ave in front of St. Anne's. The N-Judah was stopped in the middle of the intersection and a paratransit van was blocking the street.

As the on-scene Muni employee was recording information on their accident sheet, some people were getting off of the paratransit bus and walking around, leaving. The bus driver was walking around as well, going into the church at one point. It was hard to tell who was who. I kept hearing the bus driver telling the Muni guy that there were no injuries.

I watched for a minute and realized nobody was watching the folks in the van and that some of them were injured. A quick call to 911 would solve that, right? NOPE. Took 2 calls and almost 10 minutes before the first PD officer arrived. SFFD arrived right afterwards and took over. They calmly started evaluating everyone and found that there were in fact multiple injuries and that the passengers weren't able to evaluate themselves or communicate.

Funniest part? Watching the scene unfold and the calm atmosphere with everyone doing what they needed to UNTIL the lady that was obviously the MUNI manager in charge got there. Took her 5 tries to parallel-park her car before she got out and started barking over the radio. Tension escalated, voices rose, radios chattered and the calm disappeared. Another example of how NOT to manage a scene.

Last I saw, the SFFD was loading the passengers into another bus for a hospital trip for a better checkup.

We need a stop sign at this intersection.

Hopefully no one was seriously hurt. People using roads near any Muni train need to realize that these huge machines can't stop on a dime, and you have to pay attention when driving near any Muni train. That's not a commentary on Muni operators - that's just a simple fact. Even under the best of circumstances, stopping a rolling Muni train takes a while - that's just physics at work. Likewise, Muni operators are challenged with many things going on around them to keep track of as they pilot a bus or train in urban areas.

UPDATE: Examiner coverage, SF Appeal coverage and SFist coverage of the incident.

May 14, 2010

Fare Collection In the Alternate Universe Isn't That Far Fetched...

showme.jpgLast night on the first half of the season finale of FRINGE, we finally got to see the alternate universe we've seen hints of for the last 2 seasons. We saw a United States similar to ours, but not the same, and at least 30-50 years ahead of us in technology.

In addition to such sights as Martin Luther King Jr. on a $20 bill and most of the central coast of Califonia simply gone (or at least not a part of the USA, we're not sure), we also saw a place where fare evasion was almost nil - by way of the use of a national "show me" (the alt-universe's word for national ID card) required to board any bus, anywhere in the country. Yikes.

Compared to what we have (a semi-functioning Translink/Clipper card and fare enforcement that's suspended when successful) and you begin to realize the over-reaching statements about "racism" and "fascism" about San Francisco is a bit far fetched. I mean, a national ID card required to ride the bus? Ouch.

But here's the truly witty rejoinder - this isn't advanced technology from an alternate universe at all. Estonia has a national electronic ID card that's used for all kinds of things: voting online, voting in person, a travel document in the EU, paying bus tickets, etc. Reloading it isn't a pain in the ass, it's more accurate than Clipper, and overall said ID card is way way more useful than a California driver's license, a passport, and a Clipper all in one.

Oh, and what happens if you don't pay? Well, unlike here, where some foul mouthed "f*ck you pig" rhetoric is fashionable amongst the trustafarian, temper tantrum leftists, in Estonia, not only are you issued a fine - you're taken off the bus, put in a police bus, and taken to bus headquarters where you're given a lecture on why not paying is not cool. Needless to say, they're not having the phony debate about "ooh fines aren't a bounty ergo we must stop enforcement of all fares and pay for Muni with unicorn taxes" talk we have here. It's a bit extreme, but that's how they do it in Estonia.

The point? Simply this: A tiny nation like Estonia seems to have figured this basic stuff out. Heck, Third World countries have figured basic things like this out and run better transit systems than we do in larger areas. And yet in San Francisco, the alleged home of "tech innovation" and whatnot, we have an over-politicized, inefficient way of doing things that ensures we get the worst of the worst. And whatever you do, don't expect the owners of Muni to do anything to help - it seems they'd rather leave the system in the hands of a lying incompetent fool like Nathaniel Ford, then wonder why it sucks.

We don't need a national ID card to improve collection of fares. But we do need a sense of duty that we're all in this together, and have everyone (insert list of ways to improve Muni finances here) do their part. If we're not willing to do our part, don't complain when they cut services again, and again, and again.

For more information on the alternate universe in FRINGE, consult your local library or such sites at Fringe TV where you can find out more, and endlessly speculate about said alt-world.

April 4, 2010

Back Online With Some Random Thoughts...

The Really Big Project I was working on is pretty much complete, so I can go back to regular writing. I can't really talk about it just yet, but soon, all will be revealed. I hate to be a blogger cloak and dagger type, but it'll all make sense soon enough.

Anyway, I took a trip to Burlingame today, and while doing so thought a little bit about all the crazy stuff that's been going on here, elsewhere and so on. One thing that's always been an issue is the fact that if you live in San Francisco, but work elsewhere (i.e. San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, etc.) is that once you leave San Francisco, you really don't have a lot of options to get where you're going , unless you have a car. And, with Caltrain's latest announcement that it will be killing most of its service (which will make for a lot of fun at Giants games), it's just going to get worse.

For example, today I wanted to take Caltrain to Burlingame station, and meet my family there, instead of having them pick me up at the BART station. But, because of a) the Sunday schedule and cuts to service on Muni, and b) Caltrain's already abbreviated schedule, I realized there would be a good chance I'd get to Caltrain late, and miss Easter. So I opted for the 44 to Glen Park BART, but that meant annoying my brother to pick me up.

Now yes, there is a SamTrans stop there and yes, it theoretically could take me right to his place, but the problem with that is that SamTrans on a Sunday is almost non existent. I'd end up waiting at least 45 minutes, if not longer, and if it wasn't raining, I'd normally just walk the 2 miles and not even bother. I was lucky that someone could pick me up and all, and I did get there pretty quickly from Glen Park. (and as always I wish I could take a time machine back to the time when they f*cked up BART and/or killed the Interurban and shown them the horrors and wasted money to fix their blunder and come back to an easy way to get to the peninsula, but, alas, no such luck. It's the 21st century WHERE IS MY TIME MACHINE?)

The point is not to talk about my one stupid ride on BART to Burlingame, but to point out that once you leave San Francisco, "mass transit" simply isn't viable for a lot of people who don't work near Caltrain, or have the luxury of taking a Bauer private coach, or one provided by an employer. That means more people will either have to move closer to their jobs (so not easy in a tough economy) or just get a car and make 280 and 101 a parking lot. And, it wasn't that long ago that this didn't have to be a potential day-killer made up of transit f*ck ups, either. (Although, that whole "if you don't live near Caltrain" issue for many workers wouldn't go away. But at least you could take Caltrain to the Giants game and have a beer on the way up.)

It's just silly to think that we can pour way more cars on already crappy freeways (and oh yeah that gas tax that allocated 80% of money to roads? GONE) and somehow think that's going to be "fast" or whatever. With no reasonable way to get to where they need to, though, that is going to happen, and for many people I know, it already has.

If I was paid more, perhaps as much as some overpriced legislator, Supervisor, Governor, Mayor, transit boss dude, or whatever, I'd spend some time figuring out a grand complex solution or something. But I'm not. And sad to say, we are paying a lot of money for a lot of people who allegedly do this sort of thing as part of their job, and well, instead they don't.

Have fun on 101. Bring an iPad with you. It's not like you'll be moving that fast (if at all) to cause any harm, and you can at least look cool while you're taking 3 hours to get to Palo Alto.

PS: No transit drama, I got a ride home because I got a filing cabinet (happy Easter). But driving on 280 sucked royally with all the rain and such, so we took an alternate route home. I really don't miss driving up and down 280 and 101, that's for sure. But then again, carrying a filing cabinet on BART probably isn't a wise idea.

February 25, 2010

Some Scenes From Yesterday's Fail on the N

I just got some video from a Loyal Reader who had shot a little "on the scene" video of yesterday's stall on the N, and for posterity's sake, I thought I'd post the videos here.



February 22, 2010

Irving Street Improvements Started TODAY

Starting today, the Department of Public Works will begin work making several improvements to Irving Street, between 4th and 9th Avenues. The intent is to improve pedestrian safety with "bulb-outs" at several points, and build curb ramps in several locations. I've got a call in to DPW to get a bit more of an idea of exactly how this will all look (They kindly returned my call, but I was unavailable, so we're in "phone tag" mode right now), but I'd heard about this idea for some time, and it's designed to make that busy section of Irving better for everyone.

I did find out one thing - the work, which will last about 2 months or so, shouldn't have much of an impact on the N-Judah or traffic like some were thinking. The only real hassle will be the loss of some street parking as the crews work on each intersection.

When I get more information from DPW, I'll update this post accordingly!

February 4, 2010

The Innovators Keep On Rolling: Google Gadgets/Muni/NextBus Mashup!

googlegadgets.jpgThis morning I got an email from David Sohigian, (on Twitter at @dsohigian), a software developer and transit enthusiast, who developed a "Google Gadgets" application that can automatically update with 3 NextMuni updates for stops of your choosing. If you use iGoogle and have a page there, you simply install it and then you don't have to keep reloading NextMuni if all you want is what's arriving at up to 3 stops.

I tried it out and for what it does, it's remarkably simple. The app helps you figure out your transit stop ID# (courtesy of 511.org) and you're up and running. This sort of thing is useful if you have more than one option from your office or home, and want to quickly see which one is not enveloped in a failwhale delay when you're getting ready to leave.

Mr. Sohigian has also developed similar Google Gadget apps for Portland's TriMet system and the Chicago Transit Authority, and will roll out more for other cities in the future. If you have questions about it, you can find him on Twitter at the address listed above.

January 29, 2010

This Week Was a WTF For the Records. Newsom's Jihad "War on Muni" is in Full Force

madgavin2.jpgThis week was truly one for the record books wasn't it?

What with some pretty major failures every day of the week, with Newsom's "War on Muni" in full effect, and an MTA Board ruthlessly committed to carry out that war on us owners and riders of Muni (with one exception, thank God), this was a week that really shows just what's wrong with the system, and why we need people to change it.

It's clear that the Mayor isn't just indifferent to Muni owner/riders, he and his overpaid political staff are on a jihad to ruin the system as much as possible before he (finally) leaves office next year. The fatwa was issued several times via his shadowy staff and the clerics at the MTA board, with a zeal only a radical could love.

MTA commissioners have been bullied into not even considering revoking all the freebies cars get in the City, and absolutely refuses to consider real revenue replacements for the Sacramento mugging committed by the Governor. Instead they want to drive this system into the ground and make you pay the penalties in time and money. One has to begin to wonder if Newsom gets some sort of personal gratification for this policy of destruction, the kind you can only correct through years of psychotherapy or at kink.com

But all was not lost. The heroes at MuniFail.com gave us a new tool to express our will, although the Mayor's expensive political spokesman basically said "FU" in the Chronicle this morning. Never mind - at least now we can quantify how much the Mayor hates Muni owner riders!

There were a few bright spots. We had a possible chance to end a foolish waste of federal dollars, but in the end, despite the heroics of Chris Daly (!) the project passed, for now. There's still a chance this will end in ether money for all Bay area transit operators or just plain tears, but I give credit to Daly and the others at the MTC who voted "no" for sticking by their beliefs, despite union and politician bullying.

Other bright spots included a new app to catalog your day in Muni, and a break from all that rainy weather. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi took over this week as SFCTA chair, and we got to see some historical photos of what the place known as the Blackthorn today from back in 1950.

I'm taking the rest of the day off, but I'll be posting some new business reviews, and some new features this weekend. Until then, I'm on Twitter at @njudah and the N Judah Chronicles has a Facebook "Fan Page" (!) also. Many times as breaking news comes from multiple sources (be they the Twitteratti of San Francisco, or our friends at SF Appeal, SF Weekly, Streetsblog, and the myriad of transit bloggers out there), I will first break it on Twitter, and write a post later. Have a great weekend!

January 28, 2010

Need to Document Muni Fails, Fights, Wins or Fun? There's An App for That: Muni Diary!

IMG_0118.PNGGod Bless Google News Alerts. Thanks to my daily search, I found this interesting application for the iPhone called Muni Diary. It's a remarkably simple application for you to document what happened and where on your daily Muni ride (or daily Muni Fail, as it were.) It's a simple, easy way to organize your Muni incidents, be they fights or fun, or whatever.

The application is the work of Aaron Tait, a programmer living in West Portal. I have been trying out the application and it's simple, but an easy way to jot down notes in a Muni-specific fashion. I've often used the iPhone's Notepad for short notes but this one is kinda cool.

Plus, I see how one could extend this application, and connect it to other apps some day, etc. If nothing else it's fun to use.

I did a quick email interview with Aaron this afternoon, and asked him a few questions about his latest work, after the jump:

Continue reading "Need to Document Muni Fails, Fights, Wins or Fun? There's An App for That: Muni Diary!" »

Reader Mail: A Loyal N Owner/Rider Expresses What A Lot Of Us Are Thinking + More Cuts via SF Appeal

NJudah-postage copy.jpgThis week has not been a happy one for our Mighty N....what with the chaos from the other day sending N-Judah trains to Church St. Station and so on. Reader Joel writes what a lot of you are thinking (based on the number of people I've seen on Twitter expressing frustration and late-to-work laments), and I posted a little follow up on the day to day fail vs. fantasyland at the MTA:
There has been a delay—some very substantial—EVERY SINGLE DAY THIS WEEK! I don’t even remember it being THAT bad when they introduced the T to the system. What in Willie Brown’s name is going on?!? Monday: stopped still 20 minutes during rush hour in Market Tunnel

Tuesday: nothing dramatic but there was “heavy traffic” and a much much slower than usual

Wednesday: Duboce Tunnel closed during rush hour, N passengers dumped off and left to wander off to Church station, or the F, or the bus, or whatever

Thursday: crash at 18th Ave, watched several packed shuttles, 71s, and 28s go by from 20th Ave before I finally was able to jump on a 28 and catch the L.

Friday: ??? We could be in for a real treat!

I’ve been late every single day this week—from anywhere from 15 minutes to almost 1 ½ hours! Thankfully I have an understanding boss, but this has gone from angering to farcical to angering again. Where is the accountability here?

Anyway, on to other pressing concerns: you wouldn’t happen to have any N Judah Chronicle/Streets of San Francisco-style shirts left for sale, do you? M or L? I’ve gotten really obsessed with Streets the last six months or so (DVR it on KOFY every day) and would love to get one.

Joel.

It is this kind of day-to-day unreliability that the Mayor, the MTA board (with some exceptions, to be sure) , and Supervisors often seem to be completely out of touch with when they talk all things Muni, particularly when it comes to how to pay for it.

The SF Appeal is reporting that more and more cuts and fare increases are coming, but that's because the Mayor and his MTA board are so barren of ideas, and so timid, they don't dare consider real ways to pay for things besides more parking tickets and more half-assed revenue sources. Nor do they bother to consider cutting down on absenteeism or knock out some wasteful 100k+ employees to cut pension and wage costs.

So long as we have people in there that are completely clueless about what it's like to have a job where you don't get paid no matter what, nothing's going to get better. And when you have idiots like the MTC vote for boondoggles over spending precious federal dollars on something of use to us in day to day life.

Why not commemorate this week of FAIL with a Muni Fail Whale Shirt, Mug, or Mousepad? From now until Sunday, you can get 15% off using the code ZAZZLEFORYOU at checkout. Bring your mug to work, spike your coffee with the booze or flavored syrup of your choice, and regale your coworkers with tales of fail.

January 26, 2010

How Cool Is This? MuniFail.com Lets You Tweet Newsom When Muni Makes You Late To Work.

munifailart.jpgTwitter can really give you the important news, fast, sometimes. This morning I turned on Echofon for MacOS, and saw that an enterprising Muni rider has created a rather awesome single serving site called MuniFail.com.

The site is brilliant for its simplicity - if you're late to work because Muni had a big ol' fail, you simply click on the button that says "Tell GAVIN" and you can send a message via Twitter to him (and you can add a little commentary too if you like.) It's so simple, and so brilliant, it has that "why didn't I think of that" feel that means it's a cool idea.

I sent a direct message to the author of the site and will post more later. For now, use it as often as you need to. Perhaps the intern monitoring his Twitter account will be so freaked out they'll go running into the Mayor's office, screaming "make them stop make them stop!" and well, something will happen.

UPDATE:I got in touch with Mike Monteiro, the creator of the site, and did a short email interview with him here:

What is your name, and what Muni routes do you tend to use around SF?

My name is Mike Monteiro. I live around the Church and Market area, where a ton of routes congregate. But mostly it's the N to work. Or the F down Market if I'm looking for a romantic experience of climbing over a passed out meth head on a well-crafted vehicle of yesteryear.

What inspired you to come up with the idea?

Sitting in a tunnel, getting later and later for work, realizing that it was taking me 30 minutes to go 3 miles. Again. I started writing angry tweets to Gavin Newsom. And since this was happening on a regular basis, any good monkey with a tool starts looking for a way to automate a routine task, right? So my friend, David McCreath, and I threw this up in about an hour.

What do you hope will happen as people use your site to express their frustration with Muni?

Honestly, my only goal is for the system to get better. The default tweet it sends out is purposely benign. I'd rather generate volume than vitriol. Hopefully, if enough people let the mayor know how this bad service is affecting them he'll be forced to fly back into town and at least address it.

What's the funniest thing you've seen while riding Muni?

This one was tough, but I'm gonna go with the the old man cutting his toenails next to the metallic painted pier 39 mime eating a sandwich.

Anything else you'd want our readers to know?

Please, for the love of God, let me exit before you try to board. It will end so badly some day. And enjoy our other site: http://hasgavinnewsomresignedyet.com/

December 4, 2009

Let's Not All Get Misty About Tomorrow's Impending Muni Permanent FAIL...

So I guess the thing all the "cool" hipster blogs are doing to discuss the impending Muni Permanent Embedded FAIL that starts tomorrow is to write these f*cking "eulogies" for various bus lines. Oh, how cute.

Me, I'm not having any of it. I think our friend Akit has the right idea, pointing out that we're on the eve of a major meltdown on Monday, and it isn't going to be pretty. This isn't the time for mushy nostalgia pieces best saved for the school paper - this is time to get organized.

We have a Mayor and an MTA boss who celebrate these deep cuts as "efficiencies" with doublespeak that would make Airstrip One's MiniTru blush. We have a compliant press who has mis-represented what's happening tomorrow by repeating said truisms. We have a Board of Supervisors who celebrate big big increases in Fast Pass costs for most of us as "keeping fares low" (thanks for nothing, Sup. Avalos and your so-called "progressive" pals!) that boggle the mind.

And we have a laughable attempt by the head of the Muni driver's union to show solidarity with us owners, only to find he's just as full of shit as he's always been. (Hey buddy, check out how your rampant random absenteeism screwed riders of the 71, mmkay?)

I don't have an exact plan or answer about what to do, but I do know this - rampant bitching on blogs here and elsewhere will only get us so far. It boggles the mind that the bike people pretty much get whatever they want, including city funding for the monthly Critical Mass ride, but those of us who own Muni and rely on it to get around town and do what we want to do are ignored. Mayor Football Bat sucks up and subsidizes car travel and talks big about bikes, but hasn't missed a chance to screw Muni riders since he took office. So-called "progressives" talk mushy mouthed happy talk about green this or that, but have proven rather useless as they always always capitulate to power in a tough fight. (Lookin' at you, Mr. Chiu.)

At some point, I think we're all going to have to take a little responsibility and find a way to retake the power away from the bumbling idiots at City Hall and find a better way to run Muni. I have no idea what form that would take, but then again, I'm just a FastPass payin' owner, not someone being paid 300,000 a year plus lifetime benefits, either. All I know is that this half-assed way the MTA is run is NOT WORKING, and anyone defending it needs their head examined.

In the meantime I'm setting up a post for Monday that will be where you can report any and all massive FAILs for the morning commute...

November 22, 2009

Random Weekend Photo: Buses on the N

Aside from a little rainy weather, this weekend was rather fun. Friday I went and finally tried out Ten Sushi with one of the Loyal Readers, and it was really good! Definitely worth a review soon. Saturday I had a bizarre case of Muni WIN when I took the 44 to Glen Park and made it with just a minute to spare, thus ensuring I made it over to Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley in time. Needless to say that was a good thing!

I was going there because I volunteered to be a juror for a 'Mock Court" case some students were doing. It was kinda fun, but I found out at the last minute I was surrounded by the cast of "Glee" (aka highschoolers in some mock trial thing whose teachers brought them there). It was still interesting but wow, Glee and Degrassi aren't that far off the mark, sometimes.

While waiting for the 44, I took this picture of a lurching N-bus on Saturday. Somehow, it just doesn't feel right to have buses on the N.

I'll be posting a short piece in advance of Sup. Dufty's hearing, and may even "live Twitter" it, but if nothing else I'll watch it on SFGov TV and write a short summary for those that can't make it (which sadly is a lot of people because it, like most hearings, is during the day).

November 17, 2009

Major Muni Meltdown In Progress...AGAIN....

You have got to be kidding me.

I put off turning on the machine for an hour or so, and suddenly on Twitter I read up on a derailment at West Portal (again) and a J-Church/car collision this morning. Reports from our friends indicate the bus replacements for the KLM are insufficient, and that owner/riders are being told that the KLM lines are ending at Van Ness.

Twitter friend @wirelesschunk posted this picture of the chaos at West Portal, and this one as well. Twitterer @albertpoon got a shot of one of the (few) replacement buses.

This isn't the only report we're getting, Twitter friends @tangobaby reported problems with the N this morning and @soleilune reports the N was terminating at Hillway (!) for some unknown reason.

Wow.

Right about now is when I'd insert a "wouldn't it be great if we had a Mayor" wisecrack, but we all know Mayor Newsom has checked out. The problem is, NO ONE is in charge, and NO ONE is paying attention, and the result is you are going to see your Fast Passes and fares go up, and see not only service cut back, but see this kind of disaster on a weekly basis. To which I can only say WTF?

I'll be keeping an eye on Twitter, you can always send me a message at @njudah or email any on the scene pics to gregdewar@gmail.com .

November 16, 2009

Reader Mail: When is "Not My Job" Potentially Fatal?

Yesterday I got this email from Reader C (who wishes to remain anonymous) about a rather troubling incident on the N that raises some serious questions about what a driver can and cannot do.

Dear NJC:

I was walking down Filmore just by the N Judah, when I witnessed an assult on a girl, she was punched pretty hard; I latter saw her face - it was not a nice sight. My cell phone was at home charging and the first person I saw was an N Judah driver getting into his car; he had a blue tooth headset so I knew he had a phone. I asked him to call 911 and he told me it was not his job, I was horrified, and I said you got to be kidding me, we got into a small argument and his supervisor came over. They both repeated it is not part of their job, I said words to the effect of "we live in a society and you have a moral obligation". To which they laughed at me; I left as the couple that hit the girl were getting further away, as it happens I found the police at Safeway and they arrested the pair.

I understand that MUNI have a hard job but am I wrong in thinking that there is a duty to call 911 when some one asks? What sort of people are they?

Anway as this happened 20 minutes ago I am still a little upset and so thought NJudah Chronicles would be the best people to email, was this a good representation of the drivers who take us to and from work everyday?

In a follow up email, he mentioned that the driver in question refused to give their number to him, although he noted the date and time, etc. He also noted that he's a 20 year owner/rider of Muni, and generally likes the service, but is rightfully annoyed when this kind of thing happens. (Muni, this is someone who's a longtime fan and this is how you treat 'em? Brilliant).

This kind of "not my job" attitude, in a situation where a 911 call would not have caused the driver any harm, just pisses people off, and rightfully so. If the driver was being assaulted or robbed, and asked one of us owner/riders to call 911, should we simply say "hey, not my job?"

I don't think so. In this case, it seems the police were able to handle it anyway, but again, would it have killed anyone to make a simple call.

Muni drivers need to take note - yes we understand you have a tough job, and yes we understand you're not all jerks. But so long as you generally treat the owner/riders (we are not customers, dammit) with this kind of disdain, watch what happens when upcoming budget cuts threaten your livelihood.

Those people you show such contempt for might return the favor. And no one wins in the end.

November 13, 2009

Friday "Fun": Jason Voorhees Cuts Muni a New One, This Weekend's Closures, and Site News

friday-the-13th-jason-mask.jpgDays like today make me glad I have the day off. I mean, this morning's massive tunnel freak out was making life miserable for so many of you (who loyally reported via Twitter), but from recent reports, it doesn't sound like things are getting much better. (Insert Jason from the movies slashing Muni with a giant knife reference here).

I'm guessing it's a safe bet that the evening commute is going to be pretty bad, and combined with the impending closure of the N at Duboce and Church for track repairs, well, let's just say I'm glad I took today off. Frankly, they shoulda given EVERYONE a paid day off today...

And, speaking of closures, if you live on Judah Street between 19th and Sunset, and haven't already familiarized yourself with this weekend's schedule and re-routes, you really want to do that now. These track repairs are like getting one's wisdom teeth pulled - painful but necessary. The bus service shouldn't be too bad, but seeing a bus on the N-Judah line is like seeing a bus on a cable car line - sure it does the job, but it's just a little too "alternate universe/FRINGE" for me.

Finally, some site news. I am trying to go on a vacation sometime in the next 6 weeks, and since the Guest Blogger test seemed to work out pretty good, I'm soliciting Guest Bloggers once again. Please email me if you're interested in writing a short post, or want to share some photos, via the blog. If you look at past entries, they can be about pretty much anything Muni or San Francisco related, but nothing too crazy or psycho.

Finally (part II, Electric Boogaloo), I'm still looking for someone who knows how to upgrade MovableType to its latest version, and help me develop a new set of templates compatible with version 4.3. I want to change the layout to something a bit more contemporary, and add several new features, but I'm at the limits of my technical capabilities at this point. There is money involved as well as referrals from the endless stream of people who keep asking me if I know anyone who wants a lot of money to do work. No, really. Plus we may be getting another advertiser, which again, allows me to spend some money to make the site more fun.

(Side note: Yes, Wordpress, blah blah blah. I'm well aware of the fact that I should switch but doing so now, after 4+ years here, would mean losing every single link in Google to the ages, and well, I don't have time to learn an entirely new system. Unless someone can show me a way to avoid this....)

October 27, 2009

First A Muni Bus for Sale on eBay, now a Farebox for Sale on Craigslist!

Pete_TrolleyFarebox_1970s_100509.jpgBy now, you may have heard that there was a Muni bendy bus for sale on eBay which was purchased for a mere $3250 dollars, reported by our esteemed colleagues at SFist. Personally, I considered buying it myself and revamping it into a Culture Bus of my own, but I'm sure my neighbors in the Inner Sunset would not have appreciated me swiping what few parking spots we have on the block for this thing (although DPT would have made a fortune in tickets when I would forget to move it for street cleaning).

However, fret not, if you still want to buy a piece of Muni. It seems there is someone selling a real Muni farebox on Craigslist! Really! The seller claims it's a legit sale, and I'm sure it is.

Think of the possibities. If you have children, you could give it to them for Christmas, and set up the latest in board game fun - "Muni Fare Evader!" Or, bring it along and set up shop in the back and collect fares from unwitting back door boarders. It's definitely more unique than a gumball machine, and it's yours for a mere $325!

October 23, 2009

Muni Rolls A "Hard Six" on the 43 Masonic, Back and Forth...

No, really.

This Thursday a good friend of mine, Carol of Comcast, invited me to a screening of an HBO documentary about the Obama campaign. Prior to our screening at Fort Mason, she and I and her awesome colleagues at Comcast and I hung out in the Marina (!), which all I can say is now I get it when Beth Spotswood makes that joke about getting passports stamped and currency exchanged in a strange land.

What was once familiar to me ages go was a bewildering place, and thanks to SF Weekly's "Bouncer" column I was able to locate the Horseshoe Tavern, probably the only place out there that doesn't offer "roofies" in the bathroom. (Oh and btw, the bartender there was super nice and pours a nice drink.)

But I digress.

That's because, dear readers, Muni rolled a hard six. It's been known to happen before, for sure, but in these days of anarchy and budget cuts, not likely. And yet, I had that moment when sh*t got done the way we expect it.

Really.

So, first off I did some trip planning. The Google and the 511 were telling me to take a batsh!t crazy route that involved the N and the 28, when upon looking at my final destination, I realized the zany 43 Masonic could take me literally from a block away home to the doorstep of my intended destination, Chestnut and Fillmore(!). WTF, computer dudes?

I checked out Nextmuni and OMGWTF? It's actually on time? Holy Frak!

So I got changed and went over to the stop on 7th and Judah and there came my limo/bus. I say that because it was spotless. Now, do recall that the 43 has one of the more interesting routes around town. The fact that late in the afternoon it was this clean and vacant meant...either something was going right or something was gonna go bad soon.

We twisted and turned through Cole Valley, the Haight, through the Tunnel of Death (AKA Masonic via Fell and Oak). We passed the Lucky Store. We turned at the Old Sears Place. We blew through the Presidio.

And then we were There.

Wow. I had door to door service because of ....Muni?

So anyhoo, I had a nice night. I got to see a preview screening of an HBO Documentary about the Obama for President campaign aka "By the People", which was interesting. They had an awesome reception afterwards with all kinds of "Top Chef" like appetizers, including mini corn dogs and mini burgers. (which was fine but the food at Circa was better and they make a decent Old Fashioned).

When we all broke up and everyone drove home from places north (Sacramento), and east (East Bay) and so on, I looked up the NextMuni and OMGWTF? The 43 was either leaving IN THAT MOMENT or in 45 minutes!

Realizing I was looking at a long night getting home at best, and missing the Inner Sunset Neighborhood Group's meetup at the Little Shamrock, I did what anyone would do - I ran.

And lo and behold the Muni driver, noting that there was absolutely no traffic on Fillmore, and seeing me run like an idiot, let me board.

At that moment, the driver could have asked me for a kidney and I'd have been happy, since this meant the indirect 22 to the N/71 home was no more. I was just on the happy bus to home.

While on Le Bus, a passenger boarded and asked "do you go near Irving and 9th?" As the driver had never driven anywhere near there, she was unsure what to say. I shouted "Yes, get on and it's all good!" and our new passenger got on.

We both got off the bus at 9th and Judah. I, headed to the Inner Sunset mixer at the Little Shamrock, my comrade Kim walking to Le Video to return a video. We chatted amiably and then I went to the Shamrock where I and the folks there had a nice time.

All in all, Muni rolled that hard six and all I can say to the drivers of the 43, and Muni in general, THANK YOU! Finally someone at Muni is "doin it rite!" as the LOLCATS might say....

October 19, 2009

Catastrophic Flooding Besets Evening Commute, As Does PHP Fail

2012movieposter.jpgWell today has pretty much sucked for everyone it seems. First a burst of rain shut down Muni, flooded Van Ness Station, and pretty much brought upon 2012 3 years early in some parts of town.

Then, at the same time, because my ISP migrated my site to a new server right in the middle of the busiest time of year for me, and I didn't have a chance to make some changes to the server paths in some of the PHP files and suddenly none of the updates I did were showing up. But after firing off an appeal for help to the Internet, I was able to fix it with a band aid (hey like Muni) for now and will be able to limp through 2 more weeks until I can fix it right.

Anyway, if you have some nightmare stories about the Flood of 2009, or a funny story, or advice on how to get home, feel free to post, and if you get some weird error message, send me an email and lemme know. (I already know about that one "fatal error" thing though).

On an unrelated topic: Our friends at SFist report a retired Muni bending bus is for sale for a mere $2300 (well that's the opening bid). If I had the means to store and maintain it, I'd totally buy it, install a wet bar, DJ, and everything a true party bus needs, and run it around town!

This Kind Of Story Is Frustrating To Read...Dead Guy on the 5 Fulton?

So today, it was reported that a dead body was found on a 5-Fulton, apparently having been on the bus in the bus yard long after the bus was done for the day.

Fine, that's the news so far. But it is also very unclear if this is a situation where a) someone died on a bus, and no one noticed, even after an inspection (required after every shift) should have happened or b) if someone broke into the yard, got in the bus, and then died.

These kinds of stories set off a firestorm of theories, ranging from the mundane to the bizarre, or a rosary-like repeating of whatever mantra people want to repeat to make themselves feel good ("Muni sucks," "frak the unions," "San Francisco sucks," blah blah blah). I'd rather find out about this after some more facts are known. Until then I honestly don't care about random speculation, and I don't think anyone else should until we have more facts and less guesswork. In most of these cases, the facts never match up with the wild speculation found on SFGate and blog comments, and don't even rate a level of drama akin to an episode of "Law and Order."

September 21, 2009

Having a Larry David Day on the 44 Turned Out OK

curbyourenthusiasm2.jpgSo I pulled an all nighter for work last night, and then had a conference call bright and early at 6am, so I decided to just keep working and see how long I'd last. I have found this to be unusually refreshing, and no I didn't smoke any meth or drink a lot of coffee, I'm just awake.

This meant I got a lot of work done way earlier than normal, so I decided to take advantage of the uniqueness of being free in the middle of the day to do some mundane errands. So I decided to take the 44 to Safeway. What could possibly go wrong?

I got to the store and I think everyone else who was buying 10x as much stuff as I was had the same idea, because despite my super-organized shopping, I had to wait forever in line. Fine, it happens. But then I kept watching 44 after 44 fly by on Routesy, and I began to wonder if I'd be stuck waiting for 30 minutes for a bus. Instead it was only 22, but I had a tri-tip and some other perishables like vegetables all sitting in the hot sun.

The 44 finally shows up and it is packed to the rafters, worse than I've ever seen. There was no way I and 4 bags of groceries could get on and the Muni driver even shrugged and said "Man, I apologize but there literally no room at the inn." Well, at least he was nice about it and got all Biblical. The next bus wouldn't even arrive for another 24 minutes.

Yay. And I needed to get home fast because I needed to jump back on a project for a client. Double Yay.

So I decided it was such a nice day, I'd just walk it. This is something I'll do with 1 bag of groceries, but not 4. I figured at the very least, I'd be almost home by the time the 44 would even show up. And it's some exercise.

However, I didn't plan on the fact that here's some goofy guy with his black "I [Skull] LA" t shirt on, walking through the scenic beauty of Golden Gate Park with 4 bags of groceries in tow. I think every old lady and tourist had to stop and stare as I made my way past the bandshell and over to the Science Center on the way home. Right about then all I could think of was the theme from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" playing in the background, and I just kinda said "frak it", smiled, and decided to enjoy the walk outdoors, Muni or not.

I did beat the 44, and I got home and nothing went bad. Overall a nice diversion on what turned out to be a great day, weatherwise (and we all know how much we like to talk and/or freak out about the weather, right?) and now I'm getting back to work.

Cue credits.

September 11, 2009

One Heck of a Way to Start The Weekend...

Today's not been a good day for Muni. This morning we had a car wreck at 6th and Irving on the N. Then later, a big truck jacknifed at 19th and Judah. Then, it seemed things were ok, but now, we're in the middle of a meltdown once again. UPDATE: Theoretically all is well now. Fingers crossed and wood knocked.

This is one of those Fridays where if you can take your time getting home, do so. Go see a friend for a coffee or a cocktail. Maybe check out some store or park you'd been meaning to. Just don't expect anything to get fixed anytime soon.

As always, I'm retweeting updates at Twitter, when I can. Feel free to tweet or text or email any craziness you see out there, or post away in the comments. Either way, take a breath, relax, and just accept this is the reality of Muni these days....

September 1, 2009

What Was UP with MUNI Yesterday? UPDATED!

Yesterday around rush hour, I started noticing a lot of talk on Twitter that MUNI was having a particularly bad day yesterday, thanks to reports from some of the Loyal Readers and Loyal Twitterfriends. I've been experimenting with relaying these on-the-scene reports exclusively as re-tweets on Twitter to see how well that works, and because it's easier than trying to update entries when I'm away from the computer and on the semi-reliable iPhone.

In particular, Reader Halsted was stuck downtown and provided some pretty interesting observations as about a bazillion KLMs and Js passed by, but Ns, being the most used trains, were nowhere to be found. (Thanks, Halsted!) Others also did as well, and the picture painted (pixelated?) was one of what is becoming far too common - Muni just seizes up at the one time of the day you'd think they'd try and have it work.

Anyway, I'm almost done with the Twitter experiment - you can see updates in the update window to your right here on the site, and you can always follow me on twitter at @njudah for now. I'm still wondering if this is a good thing at getting the word out fast enough for people, or not. So far it seems to work well, but I also know not everyone is thrilled with Twitter, and I don't like leaving anyone out. I'm always open to suggestions on how to better post content as well as I work on redesigning the site (finally!) and want to have ways for people to participate besides commenting.

UPDATE: OMG! Right after I posted this, I got an email from the Mayor's office bragging about how MUNI is on time more than ever. No, really!

This is an example of how stats don't tell the whole story - they can quote all the stats they want but if you can't reasonably expect to get home from work (like what happened to most people on the N yesterday) , all the percentages in the world don't matter because at that moment, you're stranded. Fine if you're single and don't mind, but if you have a family, or are just single and have ANYTHING else to do besides whistle and wait for Muni, you're outta luck.

August 28, 2009

Open Thread Weekend: Outside Lands, Critical Sass, and More...

This weekend has already gotten off to a great start with the SPECTACULAR weather we're having so far. This should be of benefit to all San Franciscans, but it also means that if you're attending Outside Lands, you won't freeze out west. However, we would direct any and all patrons of the MUNI to our longstanding PSA on personal grooming products as a courtesy to other riders.

Also, don't forget, that today is Critical Sass Day, which sucks because it's super hot and a billion people are coming into town for the music festival. If you can, escape downtown as fast as you can, so you're not caught up in this maelstrom of selfishness. (Then again, Burning Man starts on Monday, so perhaps people are starting to leave town for it, thus making it a bit smaller than usual? One can hope).

Finally, since the weather is so great and it's my birthday tomorrow, I'm going to go light on posting this weekend. Barring a major MUNI fail (and not the usual nonsense) or something else of note, I'm going to leave the comments open on this post for people to report on anything particularly good or bad this weekend. I'll of course be on the Twitter armed with my iPhone as well for short posts + pictures.

In particular, if you're taking pictures, post them online and post the URL in the comments - surely with billions of people attending Outside Lands there has to be something of note to take a picture of.

Finally, I wanted to post this video of the always awesome Beth Spotswood's "Weekend What's Up" created by the always awesome VidSF.com folks. Have a great weekend and enjoy a sunny San Francisco!


Oh wait! SF Appeal has this live coverage online of Outside Lands - if you've got something to say about Outside Lands or whatever, go for it.

July 18, 2009

Major Accident At West Portal Station Reported via Twitter, AlertSF

I just got back in the apartment from doing laundry, and courtesy of vigilant Twitter users and AlertSF, I found out about a rather serious accident at West Portal station that is leading to significant delays on the KLM lines and so on.

This looks to be very serious, as reports are coming in that the trains collided resulting in injuries. I'll keep an eye on Twitter and the news and if anything big happens, I'll update via re-tweets on Twitter and so on.

If you happen to be in the area and can post pictures, please do, and post links in the comments. If you're looking to get around between Forest Hill and West Portal, shuttles will be operating but be aware there will be delays. Contact 511 for help with your route, or NextMUNI to plan an alternate route to get around this afternoon and evening while emergency crews are at work.

July 15, 2009

A Great Day At Work, but WOW That Commute Sucked!

One day a week I commute to South San Francisco for work, and often times I'm fortunate enough to rideshare my way down (thanks Tony and Chris!). Today, since I was all the way down there anyway, I decided to take a detour to Burlingame. Who knew this minor decision would end with one of the worst commutes I've had in a while as the transit ghosts decided to make mayhem on Caltrain?

I figured I'd just take Caltrain home from downtown Burlingame, as I've done before, but while waiting for the train to show up, "Mason Powell" noted that the train should have already shown up. Eventually they started announcing delays, that got longer each time...and it was getting late! Eventually we saw the train arriving, very slowly, and with no lights on. This wasn't looking good. Now, normally I'd be Twittering the heck out of this, or at least using my iPhone for its intended use - pure entertainment - but the stupid battery died early in the evening. Sigh.

As it turned out, the train had a serious mechanical failure, and there were no lights on anywhere on the train. Another was behind, and they planned to dump everyone off at Millbrae, and then have them board the second train, but I figured I'd just wait at Burlingame - it didn't make sense to board, get off, and re-board in Millbrae.

Everything seemed to be fine (but VERY slow) and I figured nothing else could go wrong, but upon getting on the N, we had a hippie family get on with extremely loud children. Worse, the hippies were teaching their kids how to evade fares. How cute. By now what energy I had was long since drained by the endless waiting around, and I didn't even have the energy to send bad vibes their way to upset their crystals.

The N didn't disappoint and did plenty of long stops outside the tunnel, the usual stop-start-stop-start that makes the ride annoying, and a gang of hipsters took up all the senior citizen seats, but at least I got home.

Nothing's perfect, and accidents happen, but when you're ready to go home and spend a lot of time waiting around doing nothing because you don't know when you're going to get moving again is really annoying! Although I keep wondering if I took BART if the transit ghosts would have been causing trouble there too.

July 13, 2009

Today's Record-Scratch WTF? Moment With MUNI...

So I was reading the SF Appeal on this sunny day and came across this article, where it seems the City is handing out goodies to Levis to keep them from leaving their own building. Now, how the City can afford to hand out goodies to the well off in times of alleged budget crisis is a mystery best left aside - today's Record Scratch WTF moment was the part, noted by the Appeal, that there's some deal to adjust MUNI schedules to better "accommodate" a few workers at Levi's headquarters.

Eve said it best (i.e. why not fix it for everyone's schedules?) but I'll take it a bit further - maybe we should get UCSF to threaten to move unless they fix the N Judah and 6 Parnassus and the 71. I mean, more people work and use UCSF than Levi's corporate HQ, and I'm sure they'd all love it if the stupid buses ran on time too.

July 3, 2009

Fun Friday: Happy Fourth of July!

american-flag-2a.jpgI'm taking a break from all things Internet this weekend so I can catch up on some other things this weekend. So unless there's a major epic MUNI fail or some other ZOMG type news, I'm going to keep things quiet for a few days. As always, The Twitter will be on my phone for any random bits of retweeting.

But before I go to the movies, a few links and details...

-This weekend you can buy our t-shirts and mugs in the store and get 17.76% off. Simply type in the code ZAZZLEUSAUSA and you'll get the discount!

-If you haven't yet seen this amazing picture of an outbound N, do so now. Whoever this photographer is, they are seriously talented.

-The Facebook Fan Page has a new URL - find it at http://www.facebook.com/njudahchronicles. Unlike certain politicians online, you will not get a bazillion pleas to "get more fans" from it if you "fan" it on Facebook. Seriously. That's just stupid.

-The SF Appeal has been writing about the decline and fall of the CitiAparments empire, and how in their decline they're now illegally keeping people's deposits when they move out. (Word is that they don't have the money to pay them even though you're not supposed to go spend the deposits). It has been suggested that their continued malfeasance warrants having all their ads on Craigslist flagged for violating the TOU. Interesting!

Finally someone shot a video recently of a classical music quartet playing in the Powell St. Station. It is a nice change from the usual blend of Dylan sung badly or the Angry Crazy Guy and Ticket Scammer duet that populates the station often. Enjoy.


June 18, 2009

Alert! N Judah FAIL at Church and Duboce. Again.

photofail2009.jpgBy now you may have heard there's an N Judah FAIL in progress, due to some snapped power lines over at Church and Duboce. I didn't have time to post until just now due to work, but have been re-tweeting live reports as they come in on Twitter

Tom, the bartender at the Blackthorn, sent us the accompanying image for this post. If all of this sounds familiar, well the very same thing happened 5 weeks ago at the very same spot.

Sigh.

June 5, 2009

(not so) Fun Friday: An Open Thread, A Farmer's Market, and More!

IMG_0596.JPGThis morning had a pretty major MUNI FAIL downtown, and it reverberated throughout the N line. This morning, after living the life of the Internet Famous by turning on the new traffic signal at 30th and Lincoln with Sup. Chu, I caught a group of N Buses (!) at the turnaround. I also ran into the awesome Eve of the SF Appeal and her husband , who had just returned from seeing the baby gorilla at the zoo, so that was cool.

Other things: This weekend, of course is the Inner Sunset Farmer's Market. Yay! Read about how it all got started in today's Examiner.

So, to keep things light on (not so) Fun Friday, I figured I'd open up a thread for people to post about today's commute, which seemed to be full of weird MUNI FAIL. Boo FAIL!

And finally, in the "let's plug something my friends did" department, I wanted to post a link to my friend's book, Colin Powell: American Power and Intervention From Vietnam to Iraq, which you can now get at Amazon.com.

Dr. O'Sullivan has been a friend of mine for over 20 years, and has traveled the world on diplomatic missions and so on. He teaches at USF, and his textbook on the United Nations can be found in college bookstores all over the place. So, I figured I'd give him a little promo since he's a friend of mine.

Have a great weekend! Maybe the weather'll give us a break and at least not be so bleary and New Caprica-like for a change!

May 31, 2009

iPhone App Review: Routesy 2.0 Is A Winner

IMG_0010.PNG First in an occaisional series. I hate to be iPhone-centric, but I don't own a Blackberry or an Android device, so I can't review anything on those devices unless someone is willing to let me try it on their device.

One of the first things I investigated once I got an iPhone was how to get the NextMUNI info on my phone. At first I used the standard NextMUNI site, which works fine, and is free. However, I noticed that in my case, with a couple of odd commutes (1 day a week to an office, another day a week on BART, and so on) that flipping back and forth between multiple mobile sites became more trouble than it was worth. I eventually purchased Routesy 1.0 at the Apple iTunes Store.

However, I found that Routesy 1.0 had some limits as well. The long list of routes could be tedious to scroll down in a hurry, and there was no way to "bookmark" commonly used stops. I was ready to look elsewhere ,but got a copy of Routesy 2.0 beta to try out, just before it was released in the Apple Store, where you can download it today. Not only did it make many improvements, it also upgraded many of the features that made 1.0 great to use.

I've posted a Flickr set of screenshots of Routesy, but I'll go over the main features here too. As you can see in the screenshot posted in the entry here, the screen clearly tells you all the upcoming times for the next bus to show up. If there are other routes that stop at the same place, Routesy will tell you those times too. It will also use the Location Services feature to try and find the stop nearest you, if you pick out a line. I find this to be useful if I'm going on MUNI to a part of town I don't normally go to via bus that often, and have a vague idea of where I need to be, but am not sure what stop to pick out.

And, if you're stuck at Powell Station and the N isn't showing up when you need it, you can see all the other trains coming in at that stop, and consider a KLM/44 shuffle instead. (This alone was worth the 2.99 for the app).

Continue reading "iPhone App Review: Routesy 2.0 Is A Winner" »

May 26, 2009

Late Night Highjinks On The N: ANOTHER "Car In The Tunnel" FAIL

phototunnel.jpg Last night I attended Brainstormer's pub trivia game at the Blackthorn after a brief hiatus. It was fun, we won, and our small, 4-person team has managed to stay in the running for the Bay Area-wide tournament coming up. After sticking around for a little bit to talk to some of our friends there I went home.

Later that night I heard my cell phone beeping with SMS messages from Twitter. Tommy, the bartender there took the N home as he always does and reported that apparently 2 women drove a car INTO the downtown tunnel and that all traffic on the Metro lines was backed up. So I re-tweeted his post to whomever in Twitterville might be up at midnight to read such things. He also took a quick photo with his iPhone so I could twit-pic it as well.

Now, this alone would make for an interesting story. However, after the dust had settled a bit from this incident, he sent me a text message. And this is the twist to the story that makes it cool. You see, it seems a MUNI driver, one of those Good Ones I keep insisting exist, made sure he and others got downtown to their connecting buses on time via the J Church. He didn't get a driver number, only that his name was John, that he was an SF native, and was a genuinely Good Guy late at night. So naturally, I wanted to Twitter the heck out of that.

This isn't the first time we've had correspondents relay N Judah related information via SMS and Twitter. A few weeks ago, when a cable snapped at Duboce and Church, various Loyal Readers and Twitteratti relayed real-time updates of the situation, which I re-tweeted (as I was not at home and could not write it all up fast enough on the site). You can follow me at via Twitter if you like, for occasional updates, or just follow along in the Twitter window to the right. Many times when I'm away from the computer it provides an easy way to do updates that aren't always worth a whole blog post.

Anyway, it made for an interesting late night at the very least. And kudos to the MUNI driver who was super awesome to the owner/riders. Can we please get rid of the bad apples and give more recognition to the Good Ones, MUNI? Please?


May 23, 2009

In Case You Missed It: President Obama Rides MUNI to Fisherman's Wharf...

This was in the news earlier in the week but it was only today I saw (via Facebook) the video of "President Roosevelt" and "President Obama" arriving in San Francisco.

Hey, it's kinda fun.


May 19, 2009

Two Notable Reports from the SFPD Taraval Station Crime Report Worth Noting...

If you're a westside resident, and not already subscribed to the Taraval Station's daily crime report, emailed out by Captain Paul Chignell, well, I'll once again recommend it to you. It's a great way to keep tabs on what's going on around your home, and occaisionally provides some really eye-opening information. It also provides information on local events in the community as well.

Today I'm going to highlight two incidents: one of the "OMG crime on MUNI can be really bad" variety, and the other in the "Wow, criminals are stupid" category.

First, our Scary MUNI indicident. All I can say is that I'm glad in this case, when unruly teenagers threatened passenger safety, the police were on hand to administer some justice. Anyway, here's the incident from May 14th.

05/14/09 4:48 pm Holloway and Beverly

Officers Juan Gala, Duane Elzey and Jose Guardado were flagged down by a bus driver who had a large group of unruly teenagers on the bus and who kept opening the emergency windows. One of the suspects then stole a wheel block that the driver had placed against a wheel when he had to park the bus to deal with the suspects. The officers located the suspect with the wheel block walking up the street. The suspect resisted arrest and had to be taken to the ground to be controlled. Eventually, that suspect, who lives on the 1800 block of Great Highway, was cited for malicious mischief, theft and resisting arrest. Two other suspects, who live on Ridge Court and the 700 block of London, were cited for terrorist threats. Case #090502367

I'm glad the SFPD were on the scene here, but this is a more common occurance than one might think, and I would hope with the millions in work orders MUNI pays out, we could see more lawbreakers who threaten harm to passengers and drivers arrested for committing crimes.

This next one is a situation where you really just want to walk up to the person, shake them and say "What the HELL were you thinking???". Read on (emphasis added):

05/16/09 2:45 pm 1300 block of 46th Avenue

Officers Jennifer Fiorello. Scott Biggs and Chris Oshita were inside a 7-11 store when they observed a man take a beverage from a cooler, put it in his pocket and walk past the uniformed officers and out of the store without paying for the merchandise. The officers stopped the man and arrested the resident of the 500 block of 36th Avenue for theft. He was charged with felony theft due to having prior convictions. Case #090509573

So many criminals are caught in this area because they seem to think it's a good idea to speed on neighborhood streets with expired tags, and keep large amounts of drugs in plain sight in their car, or drive under the influence. Which is fine with me, but it's still a bit unnerving.

To subscribe, simply send an email to Captain Chignell and indicate you want to be on the list!

May 14, 2009

Epic MUNI Fail In Progress

If you're wondering why the N or MUNI seems unusually frakked, there was a snapped overhead cable at Duboce and Church. I was made aware of it literally minutes after it happened thanks to my good friend Jack from the Blackthorn!

I have been posting updates and "retweets" on Twitter - follow me at www.twitter.com/njudah for updates as we find out more. And if you're on Twitter send us a message if you see something now or anytime!

April 20, 2009

A Whole Lotta MUNI News This Earth Day: MUNI Cops, MUNI Reports and Whatnot

This Earth Day, there's a bit of news in Ye Olde Chronicle about The MUNI...most interesting has been the splashback on the SFPD's money grab from MUNI, which is resulting MUNI having way more direct control over the traffic division of the SFPD than expected.

Already the SFPD had to back off of $2 million they wanted from MUNI - but now, because of the grab, 80 of their officers are now going to be taking orders from MUNI boss Nate Ford. The Mayor's office is claiming credit for this move, but as always, if they hadn't authorized the looting of MUNI in the first place, this never would have happened. I can't imagine the SFPD is happy to see their traffic division under the control of the MTA/MUNI, and one wonders if perhaps we had better budgeting this all could have been resolved better.

The Examiner reports on the ongoing Budget FAIL at local agencies, caused primarily by local and state leaders. Remember, folks, President Obama and the Feds can dole out "Stimulus Dollars" for capital projects, but they can NOT dole out cash to plug budget holes for operating expenses. Which means you will see that train get fixed or those ticket machines built, but you may not see anyone able to service them. Or fix them. Or you'll see them idled because there's no cash to make 'em work. Sigh.

And finally, if you want to see some transit pr0n, MUNI daily service reports are now available online. This is something that should have happened long ago, but bureaucratic obfuscation kept it offline and whatnot. Anyway, go check it out and then go bug the Supervisors, the MTA, and the Mayor about it.

Finally, we hear that the mayor of Berkeley, the infamous Tom Bates has done away with his car and is now either getting a ride from his spouse (State Seantor Loni Hancock) in a Prius, or taking AC Transit. Naturally, San Francisco's mayor tools around in a pricey, gas guzzling faux-hybrid, but talks big talk about carbon this and offset that. You know things are tough when the mayor of Granolaville is outclassing you on that whole "walk the talk" thing....

UPDATE: An aide to Supervisor Dufty sent us a dispatch from the Mayor's office with more details....word is that Supervisor Dufty (who has emerged as an elected official who actually cares about MUNI) pushed for some changes after that Big Hearing last week where he and Supervisor Chiu (who also seems to like MUNI) raised the issue about the Looting of MUNI.

Because of some behind-the-scenes work by the Supervisor, the whole "pay for transfers" idea (which was silly since it is counter to every piece of advice transit agencies get) is off the table, and now DPT will be handling late night parking issues and 311 won't be looting so much money. Read about it here and make sure the next time you see Supervisor Dufty, tell him "thanks" for trying to help MUNI out.

April 15, 2009

Reader Mail: Blind Man Saved by N Judah Riders

Yesterday was BloggerDay, I think. First, I attended a blogger call with Assemblymember Fiona Ma (with the Examiner's Melissa Griffin and others), then later on attended an event at SPUR which focused on local blogging. Panelists were Burrito Justice, Mission Local, What I'm Seeing and Streetsblog, and I got to meet in person many awesome people, including folks from MUNI Diaries, SF Appeal, SFist, MissionMission my neighbors Julie and Megan, and more!

Little did I know, that while we were listening to speakers discuss blogging and local life, some real-life drama was happening on the N. Reader Jeremy sent me this note which I got last night:

Hi,

I'm not sure who to report this to or how frequent events like this happen, but this evening at about 8pm we had a close call on the N-Judah at Van Ness station when a blind man exited the train and proceeded to fall in the not insignificant space between the 2 cars, and onto the tracks.

I was a passenger at the front of the second car, and was standing on the train near the door. Someone on the platform saw the man fall, and went to try to help rescue him before the train began moving. I hadn't seen the man fall and all I could see was the helper person standing above the space between the 2 cars. I stood in the doorway of the train to prevent the door from closing.

There was a bit of confusion inside the train as one man told me to get out of the doorway (of course he didn't know what was going on). As we began to figure out that someone had fallen, another man radioed up to the conductor. A woman on the platform apparently ran up to the front of the train and banged on the window of the conductor. People on the platform managed to pull the blind man up to the platform.

Eventually the conductor came over, asked the man if he was okay, and then the conductor jumped down between the trains to recover the blind man's walking stick.

Obviously a happy ending, but a close call. Who knows what would have happened if things went a little differently?

I think at a time when the news has been full of the delinquents and criminals and overall Bad People amongst us, it is nice to hear a story of our fellow citizens who are the good people, doing something positive to help out. Bravo to the N riders and MUNI personnel who helped out and prevented a tragedy.

April 13, 2009

MUNI and the SFPD Could Make a Fortune at 9th and Lincoln...So Why Don't They?

So the Chronicle reports today that a big scary No Left Turn sign is to be painted on the street at 9th and Lincoln, in order to ensure traffic safety. Which would be fine if SF's drivers (some of the worst in the country) actually obeyed said traffic signs to begin with.

I've seen too many people get swiped by cars as the drivers, lost in their little fog of cluelessness, make illegal left turns despite the signs. It's dangerous for the crowds leaving and entering the park, and it delays MUNI buses and other cars who are trying to cross Lincoln.

In an age of every department in the City crying "no money no money," why aren't we ticketing people who are committing illegal left turns? If they even caught say, 30% of them, I'm sure it'd be worth it. Not only would it make the intersection safer and better for people, cars, and buses, they might even teach some drivers to follow the rules once in a while. Sounds sensible.

Which is why it will never happen.

PS: The SF Weekly has a good rundown of the foolishness that is the Culture Bus, and why, in this time of budget crisis, we can't pull the plug on a joke bus line invented by some brainiacs at City Hall that no one uses and wastes money. Go check it out.

April 8, 2009

Want to Help MUNI Out? Don't Call 311 - Use 511 Instead!

Ah, internets. Finally up and running at the new place, and once again it took one smart CWA worker just a few minutes to use his expertise to solve the problem (and I mean that I'm not being snarky). AT&T's stumblebum management and customer service (outsourced to God Knows Where) of course had to drag this drama out 20+ days, but hey, we're back online and I can finally catch up with work, etc.

Which brings me to this piece of news, courtesy of the San Francisco Appeal, our City's newest news outlet. By doing this thing called "actual reporting of news" they found out that if you call 311 with a MUNI related question (in most cases a "when is the next bus showing up" one) MUNI gets billed $1.96 per call. Or put another way, $6.2 million a year.

Yeah. $1.96. So some operator can go on NextMUNI and tell you what you could find out for yourself on the site.

The sad part is if you call 511, MUNI doesn't get stuck for $1.96 in charges. Or, you could use your cell phone to dial up www.nextmuni.com. More to the point, if you call 511, you're likely to get better information anyway, and if you really just wanna know when the next bus is showing up, most phones can use mobile web sites.

Or if you're really desperate, call a friend with a computer and have them look it up. They'll be doing the same thing as a 311 operator - but faster and cheaper.

Once again, these "Gavin On The Toilet" ideas, like the Culture Bus, and so on, all made for wonderful press opportunities, but ended up costing too much and providing too little. But, as BeyondChron reports that seems to be S.O.P. for our City Executive.

March 16, 2009

Twitteratti Report: Collision Between T-Third and Truck In Progress

Word over The Twitter indicates a pretty major crash between a T-Third Line train and a Really Big Truck. Intial reports are that the truck was making an illegal turn which caused the crash.

CBS5 has some helicopter footage of the incident.
, and I'm sure we'll here more as various news outlets get on the case. In the meantime, plan your commute accordingly!

March 10, 2009

Quick Hit: Reports of Some Weird Delays on Twitter...

While nothing appeared on MUNI's official "TroubleAlert" RSS feed just yet, a Loyal Reader Twittered this first-hand account of some rather odd delays about 30 minutes ago...if you've got a first hand account, @ me a message on Twitter.

I managed to avoid said ruckus because I'm lucky enough to be working at home this morning, but unlucky in that I have to take more time off of work to go apartment hunting in the Sunset. As always, there's a small reward for anyone who connects me successfully with a new apartment in the Inner Sunset...email me if you know of an opening out there!

February 26, 2009

Crime and Punishment On the N...

If you're not already getting SFPD Captain Paul Chignell's daily email report of crimes on the westside, you really should. It's a rather illuminating document, and occaisionally there are reports of crime on MUNI, mostly related to theft. This account, however, was more detailed. Read on:

02/25/09 3:10 pm 1300 block of 9th Avenue

A woman was riding on the Judah light rail line on the rear train at the back of the vehicle when five suspects boarded the train and started moving about the vehicle with a great deal of noise. The suspects then exited the train but got back on a few blocks later. At 9th Avenue and Judah one of the suspects pushed the woman's coat off the seat and then grabbed her Ipod from her thigh area.

The suspect then grabbed the woman's ear phones and handed the items to a accomplice. The woman struggled with the suspect during the robbery but the group of suspects quickly exited the train. The victim pursued the suspects and alerted Irving Street foot beat officer Ronald Gehrke who observed the suspects running eastbound Irving to southbound 8th Avenue.

A witness observed one of the suspects eschew a backpack and sweatshirt as Officer Gehrke continued to keep the suspects in sight and broadcast a description over the police radio. Numerous officers responded to the area to search for the suspects including Captain Paul Chignell, Sergeant Steve Quon, Sergeant Henry Woo, Officers Ronald Choy, Joseph Everson, Michael Ferraresi, Khang Do, Gregory Pak, Jessica Nantroup and others.

At the corner of 9th Avenue and Lawton, Officers Everson and Ferraresi captured the main suspect who had robbed the victim. The second suspect was arrested on the 1600 block of 10th Avenue by Officers Do and Choy. Both suspects were out of breath and perspiring when arrested. The suspects were positively identified by the victim and linked to two other street robberies. The suspects, who live on the 1000 block of Fitzgerald and the 1300 block of Quesada, were arrested for robbery, conspiracy and assault. Case #090205464

We want to thank our SFPD for being on the case. Now, the question is, will these solid citizens get punished, or get a plea and go free thanks to San Francisco's notoriously pro-criminal justice system? We'll see....

February 19, 2009

A Quick Follow Up to Yesterday's Delays AKA Why Does Kavai Muao-Harris Hate Us So Much?

Although I managed to get a short post out before I headed off to a seminar I was running for the day job, I couldn't do any follow up, as the many Twitter DMs, emails and reactions piled up to yesterdays unauthorized labor action by MUNI employee Kavai Muao-Harris, who decided it would be awesome to screw everyone's commute in the morning by throwing a temper tantrum and blocking the buses from leaving.

From my own observations, as well as that of those attending our seminar, there was a definite ripple effect for a good part of yesterday with delayed and crowded buses, and so on. Reading the news coverage of this little escapade, however, is something that easily gets ones blood to boil.

First, the reason for this chidish act was over some stupid assignment for the day's work. Now, if this person had blocked the buses because they were rolling deathtraps, unsafe for passengers, that would have been ok since that would have been protecting the safety of people who use MUNI.

However, for someone who's job is not only to work for us, the owners and riders of MUNI, but also to act as a union negotiator, to pull a stunt like this over something this small is bullsh*t. In the end it was not MUNI management who got screwed - it was anyone who has to be at work on time in the morning (i.e. the owners and riders of MUNI).

I can't stress this enough. I am tired of being told we are "customers." We are not. We own the system, it is ours, and yes it has problems and sometimes the management needs a kick in the backside to get things right. That does not change the fact that the ultimate responibslity of everyone at MUNI is to work for our benefit, not their own. That's the definition of working in the "public sector."

I guess what's most galling is that of course, this person wasn't fired. Now, imagine if you, at your job, did something equally as dangerous to your company's operations over something equally as trivial. Would you get paid adminstrative leave and a long investigation that may or may not involve some sort of punishment? No, you'd get fired in a minute.

Likewise, in this economy, being late to work is a great way to get fired. If anyone lost their job because of this action taken, frankly, they oughta sue this person for lost wages. I sure would.

Finally, there's this gem from Irwin Lum. You remember him as the guy who fought in court to make sure the public didn't know who the few rotten MUNI drivers were. He's the guy that runs the union that never seems to celebrate the awesome drivers who make our day and make the system run right.

“We are still investigating the situation as to what led to this incident,” Lum said. “We would like to apologize to the public for any inconvenience that they may have incurred.”

"May" have ocurred? Are you frakking kidding me? This is as hollow an apology as one could offer. News flash, Irwin: if you want us to take your side in your disputes with MUNI management, why don't you start by trying to show us why we should? Why instead do you keep on defending bad apples like Kavai Muao Harris and a few bad drivers, and instead try and get MUNI to reward the good ones?

Then of course, in the Chron article he did offer a bit more insight:

(Lum) said there is growing frustration among the ranks of Muni employees that goes way beyond the beef over seniority. Not only are employees feeling that management's treating them with a lack of respect and dignity, he said, but morale is plummeting due to the agency's budget constraints, with funding hits coming from the state and a raid of Muni coffers by other city departments.

Well, duh. We've been talking about these issues for years. Helpful hint: why doesn't your union join with Everyone Else Pissed Off at Green Gavin and Green Arnie who've been sticking it to MUNI and MUNI's owners (us) all this time?

Maybe when Green Gavin asks you to endorse his campaign for governor you say "no"? Or maybe, just maybe, why don't you stop looking at all of us as your adversaries and realize we have more in common than we don't. Better yet, kick people who endanger the system for petty disputes to the curb. None of us needs 'em and the bad will they generate across town.

I'm not holding my breath. I think as the economy and governments circle down the drain, no one really cares about anyone else these days. So, the next time these clowns cry wolf, I won't be rushing to help 'em out, even if a "wolf" is really there that time.

February 18, 2009

So There WAS A Labor-Related Interruption to MUNI Service After All..

While doing the "day job" this morning, I noticed this Twitter alert from SF Breaking News about a situation this morning regarding a MUNI slowdown and a possible labor action at MUNI.

In between emails and "day job" work I did some searching to find out what was going on, but nothing was coming up until this story on SFist (thanks Brock!) about a delay caused by a MUNI employee blocking gates and complaining about alleged assignment irregularities and seniority and such.

As we all know, it's illegal for MUNI drivers to go on strike in San Francisco, but that does not stop TWU members from engaging in other actions that slow down MUNI, such as what we saw here. It's simliar to what happened a while back when, as elected officials were trying to garner support for 2007's Prop. A, some folks decided to have a work slowdown over not getting their raises sooner than planned.

Given the fact we're in an economic tail-spin, and MUNI is going to take some hits, no matter who's in charge, it would seem now is not the best time to be doing things to screw up MUNI any more than it really is. If MUNI management is doing something detrimental to the safety of passengers and drivers, then yes, the union oughta say something.

If they're going to save their powder for helping only the bad drivers (instead of the awesome ones we profiled the other day) and the like, they're going to lose the public's sympathy as we all get laid off from our jobs or see our paychecks cut back, with no guarantees of employment for the forseeable future.

Sigh...

February 16, 2009

Let's Celebrate Some Awesome MUNI Drivers!

We all hear about the "bad apples" at MUNI on the news, and elsewhere. However, when was the last time you heard about the many awesome MUNI drivers who take pride in their work and are doing the job right?

Exactly.

So, in the spirit of President's Day, I wanted to pass along a story of my own, as well as two I found around the Internets reminding us that there are some folks who do a good job, and they deserve a little recognition, for a change.

First off, my own experience on the N Judah inbound last week. I was headed to a party downtown on Wednesday night for Barnes Mosher Whitehurst & Lauter.

Anyway, the N Judah was doing its usual weirdness around the tunnel, but the MUNI operator was super cool. She made sure we knew WHAT was going on, and clearly announced all the transfer points along the way. When we pulled up to UCSF, where there were a lot of people getting ready to go home on a chilly night, she made sure to alert people over the speakers to the fact that if they were paying for a fare in cash, they could get off, and walk to the half empty train in back, thus making the front car less crowded, and did so also at Carl and Cole.

Finally, when we were in the tunnel she made sure to alert anyone who might need to know that the Powell elevator isn't working, and that if anyone needed it to get out early and find another way there.

That last piece of info is important. Sure, the constant rider would "know" this, but what of the tourist who just came in from out of town who would have no idea about said closure? I have talked to people who work with the disabled and this has been a point of contention for some time. So it was nice to see someone doing what they're supposed to. I hastily twittered this, and later called 311 with a compliment as well.

The good folks at SF Citizen also caught a moment of MUNI awesome when they noted that the driver of this bus did their best to avoid splashing the pedestrian with a tsunami, which, if you've ever had this happen know it is no fun.

And finally, we have this interview with a great MUNI veteran (who sadly has been consigned to the empty Culture Bus) who has a great attitude about the job and MUNI in general.

It's easy to be cynical about MUNI employees sometimes, but it is important we recognize those who are doing a good job too. Now if only the City would do more for them, and spend less time protecting the ones that don't care - then we'd be making some progress!

February 8, 2009

Reader Mail and Links of Interest To Start the Week

I've been letting a number of links and emails pile up recently, so I thought I'd start the week on a happy note with some things I've found thanks to Google News Alerts and so on.

First, I realized that I never linked to the interview Brittney Gilbert did with me at KPIX's Eye on Blogs. (I'd written an entry but never hit "publish.") Anyway, if you're curious to the origins story for the site, etc. check it out.

The site also got a mention by by the good folks who created the citizen journalism site Spot.US in response to an article in the LA Times. (Note to Spot.us - I actually took all the journalism classes in school, and have been writing in one form or another since I was 14, with only a short time while I lived in Seattle when I didn't.)

And, I also found a link to a local blogger who'd made some hilarious T-Shirts spoofing MUNI Adama for President site myself). This de facto re-writing of the fair use rules by a couple of hack attorneys sucks - esp. since this blogger has done nothing wrong. (I encouraged him to try his luck at Zazzle.com instead).

And now, some mail. First, Reader Becca writes:

I am a native NYer who can tell you every square inch of the NYC Subway system, where to stand to be near the right set of stairs, etc. All of that is useless now that I am a proud new resident of San Francisco. I can appreciate the confusion visitors and new residents to NYC feel about our subway system because I was so confused and lost about public transit here in San Francisco.

I live near UCSF and the N-Judah is my line. While searching the net for the San Francisco public transportation Rosetta Stone I found your site and have been enjoying it many times per week since I found it last October.

Whenever I see something unusual happen in the Sunset or with the N-Judah I go to your site first because I know I will find pictures and an entertaining story that will tell me all about what I just saw.

I just wanted to take a moment to say Thank You for your site! It's a great place that I enjoy.

After having a rather depressing week, and having a lot of frustration upgrading the site, it was nice to get something like this. Thanks!

Next, we get an "on the N" report from Reader Johnny, of the funcheapsf.com site. He writes:

so i was commuting home today on the N and i'm listening to these two girls blab blab blab...

one of them is complaining about how long it took the day or two before to get home on the N and how they really should train the drivers to also be mechanics as well so they don't have to wait when there's a problem. she said "oh, and like i checked out sfgate and they didn't have anything about the accident.. they suck! but of course that blog.. the N..... uh..... " and the other one says "N Judah Chronicles?" quizzingly "Yea.. the n judah chronicles!! like he had something on it like immediately" " i love that site" and then a bunch of blabbing about her boyfriends haircut or something lame like that.

just thought i'd pass that along in case your ears were burning.. people were talking about you!
keep up the good work!

Wow! It is nice to have a hobby that can boost one's spirits when they need it most....thanks!

January 29, 2009

Who Knew Wednesdays Could Be So Wild in San Francisco?

Well that certainly was an interesting evening!

Loyal Readers and N riders know that last night started off with a rather dramatic car crash (more photos here) that effectively shut down the N at rush hour. I was getting ready to leave the house to attend an event way out by the ballpark, and assumed I'd have enough time to board the Mighty N, but when I checked Next MUNI I saw this delay. I figured it was just a slow day, but then I heard the news copters hovering above our building, and then got a call from a Loyal Reader who had just seen the accident on TV.

So, being the N Judah Guy, I walked over and took some photos. I have to say, I'm astonished at two things. One, that no one was killed or maimed horribly, and two, at the pure stupidity of this accident. I mean, do we need a neon sign that says to folks "hey don't drive on the part of Judah Street you're not supposed to?"

It's even more annoying that the drivers of the N trains were tested for drugs and put on suspension when frankly, they did nothing wrong. If anything, they should be given some thanks for trying to minimize the damage and resist the urge to kick this driver's ass. Reading some of the comments at the Gate, I noticed a lot of people immediately blamed MUNI for this mess, when in fact it was clearly not MUNI's fault at all. People on the scene all agreed the driver was the fool, and to suggest the meltdown was somehow controllable by MUNI is bogus.

I know a lot of people who were stranded last night a result, and the only reason I got to the event I wanted to attend was because Stan the Quizmaster happened to be riding in a cab (which he got because he read the N Judah Chronicles and noticed the alert about the accident!) and shared it with me downtown. Thanks, Stan!

Eventually I got to Pete's Tavern by the ballpark, where I attended an event organized by Melissa Griffin for Dennis Hererra, our City Attorney. City Attorney Hererra was meeting with blog-type folks and answering questions about what his office does, etc. It was a nice event, and Mr. Hererra explained what his office does, which many people don't quite understand, confusing it with the District Attorney's office. I got to meet a few folks in person who I know online, such as Jim Herd (who does the awesome SF Citizen blog) and reconnect with blog pals like Beth Spotswood, the good guys at Calitics and Beyond Chron (who also won Best Local Website in the same Bay Guardian Best of the Bay contest we did!) And by the time the event was over the N drama was done so I headed home.

Little did I know that I'd be exposed to a human rights violation on the train. At Carl and Cole a gang of hippies got on board. Now, I'm not the easily offended type, and I did live in Santa Cruz for a while so I'm not one to judge based on looks or whatever. But this gang smelled bad. And I don't mean "oh they smoked some pot and whatever" I mean "Call the UN, the Geneva Convention is being violated." An elderly Asian couple and I made eye contact as we both couldn't hide our reactions. I mean, this was so bad, I got off the train early to get away from it.

When I did, a group of French (!) tourists got off with me. One of them asked me why I didn't arrest them or something. They assumed I was a cop because I got a haircut earlier that day and was dressed for work (which is when everyone thinks I'm a cop.) Which is fine, I suppose, but alas, I had no powers to enforce to clean up the N train.

Finally, I stopped off at the Blackthorn for a drink and ran in to Jenny, one of my trivia team-mates. I think I spent a little more time there than I planned, but it was fun. Eventually I headed home and went to bed, putting off any posts until now because I had to get up early today to work on something for work.

All in all a wild Wednesday. And usually for me Wednesday just means it's LOST night....

January 27, 2009

A More or Less Joyous Day on the M and the N....

Today I had a business lunch downtown, and got to finally wait in line and try out Taylor's Automatic Refresher at the Ferry Building. I'd always wanted to go there, but never relished waiting in line, so it was nice to finally try it out. Sure you pay like, 12 dollars for a burger (and no fries). But it's a pretty good burger, all said. (Besides, I never finish the fries anyway so I didn't order any).

As my iPhone (aka iPhail, aka iLemon) has been driving me nuts with its horrific number of dead signals and whatnots, I finally called up Apple to find out if perhaps it was a hardware issue, and they set up a time for me to go to the Stonestown Apple Store to get it fixed. (Sure, I could have gone to the crazy one downtown, but the Stonestown store is a bit calmer). So I got on what I thought was an M-Ocean View at Embarcadero and headed out.

Now, there'd been a bunch of trains rushing throug the station and I was thoroughly engrossed in all things Twitter, so I wasn't paying attention when I got on and was in fact on an N. No worries - I was able to get on the intended M at Church St. Station since it wasn't too far behind, and all.

Besides, had I not boarded the N, I would not have seen that rarest of urban sightings - well behaved children on public transit. A group of little preschoolers boarded and you could tell in the faces of some of the riders they were worried they were in for a loud, sugar fueled festival of whimsy.

Absolutely not the case. These kids were polite, said "please" and "excuse me" and sat down quietly and talked amongst themselves. They listened to the teacher and you could tell everyone was just blown away by how orderly and friendly these little ones were.

I don't mean to case on kids or anything, but if you've ever been on the bus with say, a pack of unruly teens who keep pulling the "Stop Requested" cable for EVERY SINGLE STOP, you know what I mean.

Anyway, this was all well and good until I realized I was on the wrong train. But I managed to walk to Church and actually catch the M that was a few minutes behind anyway. I made it to Stonestown where the good people at Apple determined that in fact, I did have a totally frakked iPhone. 10 minutes later I had a brand new one, and since I backed it up before I left the house, all would be well once I got home. Add in a quick visit to Trader Joe's and the PO Box on the way back via the 44, and all was pretty good after all.

Also, thanks to all of you who called Speaker Pelosi's office...I'll be finding out how things went in the House today, but no matter what, it's better to find something one can do to help out a little, since in the end we own MUNI.

January 22, 2009

Looks Like Some Delays on the N and J, Courtesy of the TroubleAlert..

I was browsing through Google Reader during lunch and saw this TroubleAlert from the SFMTA pop up - yet again the beleaguered Church/Duboce intersection is causing some delays.

Hopefully the plan to fix this part of the line will start soon....there's been a lot of work put in to try to make this intersection work better for everyone!

January 12, 2009

Potential Commute Home Disruption: Civic Center Station Protest Planned for 5pm Today...

The MUNI TroubleAlert and SFist report that there is a demonstration planned for 5pm today at the Civic Center Station. It is not clear what the nature of the demonstration will be (i.e. peaceful protest, or riot), but you can expect delays coming home through the downtown tunnel, and well , just about anywhere near Market Street.

This may or may not turn ugly, but your best bet is to try and keep up with the news, and if it starts to turn violent and dangerous, stay away and take another route home. While it is unclear if the intent of the protest is to turn violent or not, this posting, which describes rioting and hurting people as a "party" would indicate some people seem to be glad a person is dead, since it now justifies hurting people, trashing businesses and publicly owned buildings, and making death threats against bloggers. Sigh.

Anyway, if you see anything, or take any pictures, post a link in the comments...

January 10, 2009

MUNI TroubleAlert for January 10th...Unclear, but Read It Anyway

The MUNI TroubleAlert is throwing up warning flags galore about Saturday, January 10th about possible disruptions due to "demonstrations" but as usual doesn't really make it clear what those demonstrations are about, and if they're likely to be violent etc.

I don't think MUNI is referring to the No Pants Subway ride, so whatever is going on , just be careful!

January 9, 2009

Mark Your Calendars....Jan. 10th is the Worldwide "No Pants Subway Ride" in SF...

If you're not already familiar with Improv Everywhere and its local affiliate here in San Francisco you're missing out on some rather entertaining events people can participate in. (One of my all time favorites was this musical, staged at a Southern California food court mall last year.) They also had an event at Dolores Park last fall that was really cool too.

Anyway, this Saturday on BART and MUNI they'll be organizing the 2nd annual "No Pants Subway Ride".

In times like these, it is kind of cool to see some folks willing to do something kinda silly, kinda funny, and provide a little bit of participatory entertainment in an otherwise boring day. I just hope the weather warms up for 'em a little - I can't imagine being without several layers of clothing when it is this cold.

If you happen to run into the event, take a picture and post a link in the comments!

December 3, 2008

Last Night's Crash on the N Judah - Belated Report

Last night we had a crash on the N, and several Loyal Readers emailed in accounts and pics, and others alerted folks via Twitter. Sadly, I was not online with an actual computer (instead all I had was my iPhone) and the lack of "cut and paste" made it almost impossible to reprint everyone's accounts accurately.

But in the interest of record keeping, here's a couple of emails from some folks who were onhand for teh accident which happened at Duboce and Church:

First, Reader Brian wrote:

The accident happened around 7:15 tonight at the cross of Church and Duboce. An N-Judah train going inbound had changed to a J-Church and collided with black passenger car on the turn from Duboce onto Church.

When I walked by at 7:35 there was still a child in the back seat who looked fine, just waiting to be removed from the car. I've attached some photos. Sorry they're not too clear; I didn't want to risk dazzling passing drivers -- who were probably already gawking at the accident -- by using my flash.

I think they were turning the N round at Duboce and running a replacement bus to ocean beach, though I change at Duboce anyway so I'm not sure what happened after this. The accident choked the intersection and caused a backlog of J, N and 22 in all directions.

-Martin

Thanks to all who helped - usually I can post these in real-time but I'm working on a workaround for the iPhone's odd limitations...and as always you can check out our Twitter feed where I can post bulletins from pretty much anywhere, faster.

A Fun Story about the N Judah on KALW....

Thanks to the magic of Google News Alerts, I caught this report on KALW about the N Judah that first aired on December 1st. It's an entertaining tale of a band who jumped on the N at Ocean Beach and played live music for folks on Our N. You can read more about reporter Martina Castro's behind the scenes report about how she produced this piece, and see some photos on her Flickr page here.

Stories like these are fun to hear about....my only regret is that I wasn't on board to see this spontaneous display of fun live!

November 14, 2008

Epic MUNI FAIL in Progress...Along With Major Traffic Jams...Twitteratti Come Through Even If MUNI Won't!

No rest for the wicked, it seems....this evening's commute, on the heels of Bad News About MUNI today, there have been multiple reports of a hellish commute home tonight.

First, thanks to the road construction on Irving Street, there have been delays. But thanks to the Friends of the NJC on Twitter, we've heard about a whole lotta bad going on.

First, @rowenoftc reported a fire incident that was causing traffic mayhem. Then, of course, there's the epic delays on Lincoln due to road construction as well...

THEN...thanks to Loyal Twitteratti @meganallilson we heard about another MUNI FAIL at Cole Street which @RoyalPineapple corroborated as well..

This is not good, folks. MUNI FAIL is not just an option, it seems to be the preferred option.

And where, oh where is our esteemed Green Supervisor, Ross Mirkarimi? Where, oh where, are the "progressives" who emptily promised a "better MUNI" and "encourage mass transit" during the election?

And where, oh where is our Green Gavin?

Oh he's off in Shanghai.

Thanks Gavin. Thanks Nate Ford. Thanks Board of Superivsors and MTA. Thanks everyone for heaping a big dose of FAIL on what should have been a nice night with unseasonably warm weather.

I'm just glad I got home early and am enjoying a cocktail far, far away from the madness. Still, I get no joy out of seeing my brothers and sisters in commuting hell. Not a bit.

UPDATE: Last night, Cormac Brown caught on camera the case of the Moron Driver Who Parked In Front of an N Judah, thus frakking up the commute even more. Good catch!

October 29, 2008

Reader Mail: Yet Another Car Tries To Drive Through The Sunset Tunnel...

Reader Marc writes in with some information I'd not heard about...it didn't appear on the MUNI TroubleAlert (as is the case sometimes with MUNI related mayhem) but once again it seems someone, most likely a tad tipsy, decided it was a Good Idea to drive through the Sunset Tunnel. He writes:

Did you get any pics or reports about the SUV that drove into the east portal of the sunset tunnel last night? I got there right as a police officer started to back the car out - it was a black Ford Expedition, and it made it about 25-30 yards into the tunnel before the driver stopped on the inbound side of the tracks. I didn't see the driver around anywhere, but it was apparently a woman and I heard someone say that she appeared to be drunk (shocking).

Anyone else catch this bit of MUNI drama?

For fun, you can read about past incidents with this post, complete with video or this more recent incident.

I swear, sometimes this blog just writes itself!

September 25, 2008

Reader Mail: MUNI's At It Again With 19th Avenue Turnarounds!

A little over a month ago, there was a flurry of press releases and news stories, promising severe punishment to any driver who shorted the N Judah line by dumping passengers at 19th, and turning around. Remember? Lots of big promises made by MUNI and Our Elected Officials.

This morning I got two emails from Loyal Readers Stan and Joseph:

Greg, I don't remember the official term for it, but tonight, coming home from downtown, I got off at 19th Ave, and walked to my place at 21st Ave, where the train had disembarked everyone, so they were all standing in front of my place. There's no stop there. I asked what happened, and some guy who knew you said they'd been dumped there while the driver turns around. The next train was coming in a few minutes, but still. I tried to get a camera to take a pic, but was too late, catching them when they got back on. I thought they stopped doing this?

-Reader Stan

The good old days are back! Got booted off around 1130-1145. I called 311 to file a complaint and guess I'll call Ken McDonald tomorrow.

You know, the one single awesome thing about Muni is how polite the 311 people are. I genuinely enjoy talking to them.

-Reader Joseph

Upon re-reading the Chronicle article from August 6th, either this was a planned outage by MUNI (late at night) or, the drivers are up to some shenanigans. As always, when you call in these things, you never ever hear back or find out what really happened. You'd think, though, if it was planned in advance they could at least tell passengers sooner, and not as they're on their way home late at night so they could make alternate plans.

September 18, 2008

Getting Caught Up With The News, and Don't Forget: Obama Event at the Blackthorn Tonight!

Unfortunately, having to work for a living to pay the bills means I haven't been able to keep up with the site like I would like. However, there are only 40+ days left until the election is over (thank GOD), and I'm going to try and keep things going in the meantime as best I can. There are some timely bits of MUNI news you may have missed, though, that I wanted to make sure you got a chance to hear about. (Special hat tip to the fine folks at CurbedSF, who've been doing a good job keeping on top of stuff this week, and in general. Yay Curbed!)

First off, there's a pretty important community meeting about the future of the Duboce/Church intersection, often the place where MUNI Fail takes place. The Examiner did a story today about the proposed changes, and the attempt to do all improvements to the area at once, instead of doing projects one-by-one, ensuring an endless string of construction for the next 400 years. There is going to be a community meeting next week - check out the story at the Ex for details. You can also go check out the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association's blog for more information on how to get involved as well.

Next is news of the new MUNI CultureBus. Yes, you read that right. Starting on Saturday, MUNI will have a new line, the 74x, which will charge a special fare ($7, all day), and connect downtown and Golden Gate Park based museums and such. It's an interesting idea, particularly when tourists are often confused as to how to get from their downtown hotel to various museums and the like.

I wonder if perhaps this isn't the start of a trend for new MUNI moneymaking routes? Maybe we'll get some other specialty lines? North Beach, I'm lookin' at you and all your rowdy bars and restaurants and such.

Finally, in the "boring but important" department, MUNI will be opening a new MUNI maintenance yard on the east side of town this week. This is one of those things we as riders/owners of MUNI don't see every day, but affect our commute.

MUNI has always had a problem with train car storage and maintenance (too many cars, and nowhere to put them all), so opening this new facility could make a big difference, especially with all the mechanical problems train cars often have.

Fun fact for westsiders: the site of an apartment building/grocery store at Irving and Funston was once a train yard for the now-discarded train lines that went out to that part of town. Additional fun news: SFist has a proposed map of San Francisco in "the future" that includes a double-wide Sunset/Parkside district out in the bay.

Don't forget - if you're an Obama supporter and want to help the campaign on the westside, the Obama team will be hosting a volunteer event tonight from 6-8pm at the Blackthorn Tavern at Irving and 9th avenue. If Obama's your candidate for president, why not stop by and see how you can help out?

August 28, 2008

O Hai! Sunday Street Closing Day We Haz It....At Least There's Some Free MUNI That Day...

course1.jpg If you haven't heard yet, we can stop global warming simply by hanging out on a large stretch of road from Chinatown to the Bayview on Sunday. You can get a complete map at the official site of this event and find out where you can do yoga, run around, ride a bike, etc. all on the closed streets.

MUNI will be running for free on the K, T and F lines from 8am to 2pm, and the event itself runs from 9am to 1pm. It's unclear how all of this would affect MUNI since unlike the Outside Lands festival, the event is limited to just a few hours on Sunday morning, and the train runs all along through the many events, rather than just dumping off folks at one spot.

I'm not sure exactly how this will stop climate change, but it does seem like it could be fun, and the weather will be cooperating. It'll be a nice end to a week that has included a Burning Man free SF, the Democratic Nerd Prom, Labor Day Weekend, and of course, my birthday (which I share with John McCain, Michael Jackson, Weezy from the Jeffersons, Elliot Gould, and Hurricane Katrina). Woo hoo!

August 25, 2008

MUNI Congratulates Itself on a Job Well Done...No, Really...

For sheer entertainment value, SFist once again brightens up the beginning of a depressing week with this bit of PR fun from MUNI talking about how they rocked the weekend with 117,000 additional passengers. Wow! Neato!

Of course, they don't mention how they totally failed to provide additional 71s to pick up the slack, how packed many of the trains were, preventing fare collection, and so on. It wasn't a total failure, (although plenty would disagree with that assessment) but the total unpredictability of it all made it tough for people to make informed decisions on what to do and when.

At some point they did pile on the N's but that was putting all the transit eggs in one basket, and it had predictable results.

But none of that matters - MUNI did have the time to toot its own horn for a job well done! Wonderful. And a special thanks to the many middle managers who helped make this all happen!

August 21, 2008

Good Grief, Not Another One! - Car/MUNI Collision Reported This Morning...

Ok, this is getting out of control, even for MUNI...while reading the Examiner online this morning it seems there was another accident involving a MUNI train and this time a car today.

After a while, you'd think one of those Real Newspapers would try and do some investigating to find out why this is becoming more common. Likewise, I can't seem to go more than a few days without the MUNI TroubleAlert telling me that there's a Big Problem with the cable cars. At what point do these stories stop being little one-day missives in the Examiner, and become something worth doing some "real" reporting on to find out What's Really Going On?

Discuss.

August 19, 2008

Failwhale Regatta Plans Continue: Will MUNI Do The 19th Ave. 2-Step On Saturday?

As I posted the other day, there's going to be a huge music festival in Golden Gate Park, and the potential for failwhale-on-failwhale action is fairly high. But now I'm really worried for not only the patrons of said music festival, but also those who might want to enjoy a cool block party sponsored by Pirate Cat Radio at the end of the N Judah line at Judah and LaPlaya. (Download a flyer here), and the best way to go would be to take the N, since it ends right there.

Now, we've already been told by the TroubleAlert there's gonna be delays. But if MUNI and their operators start pulling that "Let's Turn Around The Train at 19th Without Telling Anyone" nonsense, well, we're looking at a massive case of FAIL that'll beat July 3rd's Day of Hell.

Let's consider this post an open plea to MUNI managers, operators, and Everyone Else to please try and make this weekend not a Failwhale Regatta so epic we'll be telling our grandkids about it. A lot of people worked hard to create some community events and it'd be nice if MUNI worked as advertised for them.

Oh, and also, it'd be really awesome if MUNI worked as advertised for the citizens of San Francisco who pay for it and technically own it, too.

PS: Does it bother anyone else that we, the people, are the owners of MUNI and yet we have a whole bureaucracy and workforce totally unaccountable to us, as said owners? And, does it bother anyone else that folks are putting a plan on the ballot to create a public power system, with the same sort of lack off accountability MUNI has? Ay caramba!

August 8, 2008

Reader Mail II: An Injured Passenger Is Insulted by a MUNI Driver...

Loyal Reader Jamison, who's been checking in on the NJC since way way back in the day, sends in this tale of woe which speaks to many of the issues we discussed earlier this week. Jamison, who was recovering from an injury that left him in a cast, sent this report in to MUNI and CC'd the N Judah Chronicles:

vehicle: 1544 run: 095 line: T-Third Street direction: Downtown

---

Climbing the ramp to the board the T, which takes some time with my foot in a cast, the driver closed the door and pulled up a few feet.

When I got to the door and pressed the open button it did not respond, as I started to walk away to see about the next N-Judah the driver opened only the front door and I boarded. I proceeded towards the only available seat halfway back and the driver got on the PA system to say in a very condescending tone "You're welcome".

Drivers should not berate passengers for the simple act of boarding a vehicle.

If her goal was to publicly embarrass me in front of a train full of people, I think the other riders had more sympathy towards me (as I was limping my way through the train) rather than the driver who made the ever-so-difficult and demanding out-of-their-way act of opening a door for a passenger at a station.

Wow. Class act, that driver. You really have to wonder how it is an institution can get so infected with a failure mentality, coupled with a sense of entitlement that mandates they get paid big pay with no expectation of doing their jobs properly. These kinds of incidents blot out the many GOOD drivers who do their job and get no reward.

Bad drivers, however, have Local 250A's leadership backing them up. It's almost like an obsession they have with rewarding bad drivers and screwing over the good ones. Maybe Local 250A needs a change in leadership.

Reader Mail: MUNI Fail in Progress?

Reader Alex sent us this note along with a shot of the MUNI tunnel map indicating a potentially failwhale day right now:

IMO, worth posting on the N Judah Chronicles... there's a pretty spectacular frakup in the subway happening now. Pretty serious inbound delays. Trains are running ~15mph from West Portal. Don't know if they're coming in from the Duboce Portal.

Sigh.

But at least they have their track irons back.


Anyone else seeing this? I need to leave the house and go downtown so any advice would be good!

July 31, 2008

Reader Mail: A WTF Moment on MUNI

Reader Stan sent in this MUNI WTF moment to the N Judah Chronicles. There's not a lot one can say, it speaks for itself

I was riding the N-Judah from the Outer Sunset to Powell Street on Tuesday evening. Everything was going well until about 7:15, when we entered the Van Ness station. The doors closed, again, but we sat there for a few minutes. The front door was reopened to let people on and off, including Muni fare inspectors. We sat in the station for about ten minutes. I was in a hurry, so I walked up to ask. Usually the drivers make announcements about what's causing a delay, and how long we might be expected to wait, and what options we might have as riders.

The driver had sealed the partition where one usually remits their fare so no one could talk to her. I then stepped outside the train, and asked through the window of her compartment, "Excuse me, I see that there's a train parked in the Civic Center station in front of us for a while. Do you think it would be better for me to take surface transportation?" She looked at me in indignation, and slammed the window in my face! I just stared at her for a moment, and walked away.

Continue reading "Reader Mail: A WTF Moment on MUNI" »

July 29, 2008

MUNI TroubleAlert Tuesday Wednesday: A Demonstration in the Inner Sunset..

Just saw an announcement on the Muni TroubleAlert advising that there may be "delays" on the 6 and 43 due to a demonstration scheduled from 3:30-5pm. UPDATE: This is actually happening tomorrow, July 30th, not today! This is what happens when you scan the TroubleAlert at work, and don't just sit around goofing off with the computer all day (like some elected officials do).

Apparently it's related to the ongoing labor/management difficulties at the University of California, which have been going on for some time. I don't know all the details - union members or assorted UC workers, feel free to leave a comment and let us know what's up!

July 22, 2008

MUNI TroubleAlert is Ringing...Police Action Delaying All MUNI Trains

Good thing I checked the MUNI TroubleAlert before I left...it seems there's a police action that has cleared out Van Ness Station, and all trains in and out of the tunnels are delayed.

At least I found out BEFORE I made my plan to do the MUNI/BART thing. Plan accordingly and be safe, friends!

Phil Bronstein and Akit Expose a MUNI Fail...Again

So I'm packing my bags and did a quick check on The Twitter, and what do I see but a tweet from Phil Bronstein with a link to his blog about a MUNI Fail caught on tape by intrepid blogger Akit.

Some of you may recall how this MUNI customer was getting screwed by MUNI when he tried to use the 25 cent BART to MUNI discount pass they have in the stations. In true MUNI fashion, big paid mangers and spokesfolk said "we'll fix it" and of course, they didn't and this time it was caught on camera.

I think Phil needs to change his job title from Editor at Large to "MUNI Avenger," and get a costume or something. And Akit, you rock for catching this all on tape!

July 3, 2008

Wow! Today's Commute Just Plain Sucked! - UPDATED With Pics!

Photo courtesy of Reader Christina. Thanks!

And here I thought yesterday's annoyances were bad...this morning I started getting a steady stream of emails about Today's Intergalactic All Star Super Muni FAIL:

Reader Corey writes:

Apparently there were a couple folks on the tracks in the subway this morning between Civic Center and Powell. They managed to shut down the entire metro system. I got to Powell at about 8:10 and there was zero service until almost 8:35, when they started moving trains (slowly) inbound. When I finally got off at Folsom, there were about 5-6 trains sitting idle on the tracks on Embarcadero waiting to enter the tunnel, it looked like there was still no outbound service. Any more news?

and Reader Christina's note came a few moments later with more MUNI drama:

This morning while I was transferring between the 22 and the N Judah, I saw no less than 6 or 7 inbound N Judah trains lined up in a row, waiting to get into the tunnel at Church and Duboce. At first there were only 4, and I was kind of amazed at how ridiculous that was. But then more and more kept showing up! The line stretched all the way back to the park. There was a Not In Service shuttle bus hanging around, and two employees in yellow vests as well, but they didn't seem to be directing traffic or anything. Any idea what's up?

I took a few pictures as well - I'll send them your way in a few minutes if you'd like.

and finally Reader Tangobaby wrote in, live on the scene:

I hate muni. Where is my f'ing unicorn already?!!

If you have any info about the jackass in the tunnel today, let me know because I'll be standing at the corner of church and market for a looong time!

Oddly enough, the MUNI TroubleAlert didn't mention any of this at all. What's the point of a TroubleAlert if it doesn't alert one to trouble?

UPDATE: More reports of another MUNI FAIL today from Reader Brandon who writes:

Hi Greg, Not only was the line backed up at the tunnel, around 8:00am there was a huge backup at 9th and Judah. Apparently the MUNI light wouldn't turn green for whatever reason (I personally think it was because the driver didn't move up enough to activate it but I'm not sure if that's how the light system works.) Anyway, instead of just going through the green light like the train used to, the driver decided to sit. I was stuck on it for at least 10 light cycles before I finally got off and took a bus to Forest Hill, which was also having it's own problem. There were 3 more N's stacked up behind the one I left. So, I ended up being an hour late to work. By far my worst MUNI day since I've moved here a year and a half ago.

Sigh. See, this is why I tell people a blog about MUNI literally writes itself.

UPDATE (again): SFist has some coverage of the Other Side of Today's Day of Fail.

June 18, 2008

Multi-Tiered Epic FAIL on MUNI Today - Or Why a MUNI Blog Writes Itself.

People wonder sometimes how a blog about SF life and MUNI can have enough material to sustain itself. Today I had a lovely commute FAIL that reminded me a) why this thing just writes itself and b) primary source complaining online has a therapeutic value.

I had to get to a meeting over in Pac Heights and planned accordingly, giving myself enough time to do what should have been a fairly easy jump. However, MUNI had other plans, starting with the fact that I found myself more or less stranded in the Inner Sunset in the middle of the day. WTF? Usually mid-day is the most reliable time one can catch an N (which was supposed to be there at 1pm) and instead I had NextMUNI telling me that one wasn't due for at least 30-40 minutes. D'oh!

So, being the MUNI nerd that I am, I quickly looked at my options, none of 'em good: a) take a cab and spend $4000000 on cab fare to Pac Heights b) take the 43, then take another connection to where I was going or c) take the janky 6 to downtown, then either hail a cab (!) or get on the 47.

I chose "c," even though it wasn't necessarily the best choice, but it was the only one I could bet on reliably. However, the 6 Parnassus can also be reliably in disrepair as well. I got on and was regaled with the wit and wisdom of the woman whom I shall call "Troll Lady" as she was rather unkempt, had a voice that sounded like 10 miles of bad road, and was talking VERY loudly to someone about things I just don't need to know about anyone, much less Troll Lady. And of course, we hit every single red light too. O hai!

Continue reading "Multi-Tiered Epic FAIL on MUNI Today - Or Why a MUNI Blog Writes Itself." »

June 16, 2008

Some Sad Days For Our Mighty N, I Think

It's been a rough couple of days for our Mighty N recently, The Chronicle has some follow up on that N/KT crash that happened on Saturday (ironically the day I was out of town). It's still not clear exactly how this happened, so it will be interesting to see what the final outcome of any investigation is. At least no one was killed like the accident on Boston's MBTA system.

This morning I was checking out the Twitterstream and Loyal Reader Eve reported that at about 930 this morning no less than 5 N Judah cars were bottled up at the end of the line. I think that's setting a new record for LRV Rodeo at Ocean Beach.

There was a little good news, of sorts for the site - I got a mention in the Sunday Chronicle which was kinda nice. Also, several other interesting blogs you may or may not have caught in our Links of Interest feature got a nice mention too. Woo hoo!

June 11, 2008

You've Gotta Be Kidding Me: Another Car Was In The Tunnel Today...

This morning, whilst working at my day job, I saw this notice pop up on the MUNI TroubleAlert, indicating (as always) after the fact that "some delay" had been cleared between Castro and West Portal.

Then I read this report, and later this one, about how once again, someone decided to just drive into the West Portal Tunnel. And this isn't the first time this has happened, either.

It does not take a genius to realize that the West Portal Tunnel is not a tunnel for cars. But this incident makes me wonder two things:

1. What is the point of MUNI's RSS feed for "alerts" if they only alert one after said event occurs? It's one thing when it's something like the incident yesterday, but quite another when it's one of these long, drawn out "drag the car out of the tunnel" incidents.

2. Do we need to go all Teutonic on the driver's licenses, and start requiring people to go to school for a year or something to learn how to drive? So often I see people driving around town in this little haze of cluelessness, oblivious to anyone or anything around them. That's fine if you're a pedestrian walking in the park. It is not fine when you're driving your SUV around town to take Zutroy and Hortense to a play date.

Carry on. In the meantime, because some of you asked for it, here's a replay of the Sunset tunnel incident captured on camera by a Loyal Reader just under a year ago. Enjoy!

June 2, 2008

19th Avenue Closures This Week: Commuters Beware!

The Chron reports that due to various road work on 19th Avenue, residents this week can expect some delays as various sections of 19th are closed off. Be sure to check out the article and note the schedule, and plan accordingly!

Since 19th Avenue is often a popular "end stop" for the N-Judah, this might complicate matters even further. If you are having issues with the N (or any other westside line), post your experiences in the comments!

May 23, 2008

Working In A Home Office Has Benefits: What Was Up With the N Today?

Sometimes there IS a benefit to working at home, as I don't have to commute downtown like I do in the fall...but it does make me miss out on what apparently was some MUNI holy Hell this morning...I've got a stack of emails asking me "WTF?" and the MUNI TroubleAlert indicated not a single problem (aside from what seems to be a recurring problem with Cable Cars as of late).

So! Share the pain in the comments....

May 20, 2008

What Was Up With The N Today?

What was up with the N today? I was returning from downtown and somehow, managed to catch an N as I was coming down the stairs at Montgomery Station and thought "Hmm. What a nice surprise."

But on the way outbound I got a sense something was up, and it turns out I was right - of course seeing the double-long bendy bus on Irving Street was a tipoff too.

Now, though, the Muni TroubleAlert indicates a delay at Caltrain was just cleared a few minutes ago and there's residual delays as well.

It seems like lately we've had some sort of mayhem either at Caltrain or somewhere near a tunnel....and don't get me started on the weirdness on Bay To Breakers day....what are you seeing out there?

May 16, 2008

Last Minute Friday Joy Thank to the MUNI RSS Feed: Delays and TEP Love

Two last minute bulletins courtesy of the MUNI TroubleAlert RSS Feed: apparently an accident is delaying outbound N Judah trains from the CalTrain station, so plan ahead for your sweaty commute.

Also, just announced (!) is a planned live webcast of a Transit Effecitiveness Project meeting, tomorrow morning at 10:30am. So for those of you who might be hanging out at home and want to watch something more entertaining than the Fairly OddParents, well, here you go.

Many thanks to the folks at the Blackthorn Tavern, who let me plug in to an outlet I was not aware of, so I could continue the blogging joy this evening....

May 13, 2008

A PSA from the NJC on Hot Weather, and The Bay To Breakers Aftermath

We don't have any celebrities to do those The More You Know - style PSAs like they have on NBC, but as a heat wave approaches San Francisco and the Bay Area, I felt it was time to resurrect an old PSA I did two years ago,:

PLEASE be considerate and use your favorite personal hygiene products before boarding our Mighty N, or other MUNI trains or buses during the heat wave. PLEASE.

And, for those of you who recycle, either to save Mother Earth, or to collect the CRV on the zillions of cans and bottles that will be dumped all over the Bay To Breakers route, please remember the MUNI system is not a trash hauling concern.

There are plenty of fun activities to enjoy around Our Fair City, and you don't always need a car to get to and from them. However, in a crowded MUNI bus or train, especially those sans any sort of air conditioning, conditions can get rough. So have a great week, enjoy the heat wave, and show your consideration to your fellow citizen by using any one of a number of hygiene products that will ensure if someone's smelling up MUNI, at least it isn't you or a loved one. Thank you!

April 28, 2008

O Hai! N Judah Delays Reported Via MUNI RSS Alert...

Looks like there's some damaged power lines that are delaying the N-Judah, in and outbound in the Outer Sunset, and buses are being provided to replace the streetcars....plan accordingly!

UPDATE: A Loyal Reader was kind enough to email me right after the wires broke, and took some pictures:

596qhh.jpeg
at the n-judah turnaround

just heard a sound like trampoline being detonated
somehow the judah screwed up its wires... you know
the big web of them down here at the turnaround.. they're
nicely tangled now :(

happened at ~3:15pm (4/28)

wondering if we'll see something on the RSS feed :)

April 17, 2008

Well I'm Glad I Have the MUNI Alerts on RSS After All...

I put the MUNI Alert RSS Feed into Google Reader to see if it'd be useful...and today it was, as it seems there's a derailed MUNI car at the Caltrain Station. As I need to take Caltrain today, well this helps me know that Things Will Be Delayed.

No details as of yet. If you use an RSS reader, you can cut and paste this URL into Google Reader or whatever you use, and be updated on the latest and greatest in MUNI mayhem:

http://www.sfmta.com/rss/announcements.xml

Enjoy!

April 12, 2008

O Hai! Dumb Driver Of the Week Almost Crashes into Cable Cars!

We had easily one of the stupidest people to get a driver's license barrel down Powell Street, yapping on her cell phone, thus managing to ignore every single sign and light that says "do not enter here, drivers!"
WTF?
Because she was in such a hurry, she also sideswiped the parked cable cars to get wherever it was dumb blondes go on a Friday. The cable car operators frantically (and bravely) tried to flag her down and make her stop, but she did one of those smart ass "I'm waving at you even though I'm probably being a dumbass" waves that drivers do. (I really hate that, esp. when I'm driving and someone cuts me off illegally....)

Eventually she got to the end and made a sudden stop because, as anyone knows, the cable car turnaround is a dead end. That's why they put all those "cars please do not enter" signs. Funny, that.

Not to be content with almost crashing into a cable car or two (she was lucky as she sideswiped the parked ones the outbound car was still loading passengers and not in motion), she backed up and almost ran me and several pedestrians over. Apparently, that whole "steering" thing cars have you do was a bit much for her.

Eventually a cable car operator explained to her just how dumb she really was, and managed to at least make sure she backed out safely.

I really wonder sometimes if we're a bit too lenient on who we give driver's licenses to these days. If nothing else, a hat tip to the Governor for banning cellphone use (well sorta). Too bad our Supervisors and Mayor are too busy protesting stuff overseas - maybe they could show some leadership on auto safety here in San Francisco - you know the city that actually elected 'em and stuff?

Perish the thought!

April 9, 2008

Torchy Goodness Is Making MUNI Hellacious Today - Post your Commute Hassles Here!

All of today's Olympic Torchy Goodness has been making MUNI hellacious today - the N, of course, is blocked over by the ballpark, and there's new chatter that the torch is going to run down Van Ness instead (where no one is around to actually see it) and there's an army of Chinese and American security forces out there today.

All of the MUNI alerts about the old route along Embarcadero may be moot, and now we'll have all sorts of closures and whatnots on this "new" routing that they just announced to psyche out the protestors. They already closed the cable cars this morning (replacing them with...buses..), and the N isn't scheduled to be online to Caltrain station until at least 4pm.

I decided well in advance to avoid having any meetings or work downtown, so I'm sitting here watching the torch goodness on KPIX's Eye on Blogs and SFist.

If you've got a tale of a particularly annoying commute or other tales from the front lines, post 'em in the comments and let the bloggy goodness continue.

UPDATE: MUNI just posted this alert...allegedly the N is back on line all the way to CalTrain...

April 1, 2008

No, Really, It Happened Again: Car Enters MUNI Tunnel!

When I read this headline on my RSS newsreader, I figured it had to be a joke, but it's not - KGO reports that someone found a way to drive all the way into the West Portal Tunnel, until they got to the part where it narrows and got stuck. Fortunately no trains were running so there was no chance for a major accident.

Still, one wonders the logic, or lack of, that would let someone think "O Hai! Tunnelz, I has them!" and just barrel on through.

Then I remember the infamous Judah's Prius Incident captured by one of the Loyal Readers, and realize, in this town, any-thing's possible.

And now, a re-run, of that famous day on the N last year. Enjoy.

March 25, 2008

Memo to MUNI: Please Please Give The N Judah Driver a High Five Today

MEMORANDUM
:

TO: MUNI Bigwigs
CC: MUNI Union Bigwigs, Mayor N, Board of Supes
SUBJECT: Can We Please Take Note Of A Great Driver on the N Judah Line?

Today I was taking the outbound N home around 4pm and for the first time in a while, we had a driver who not only did a great job moving the train along on time, but also actually called out the stops, the connections, and points of interest for each stop along the N-Judah line.

You know, like everyone's supposed to, esp. in light of that whole Americans With Disabilities Act thing.

Since I was in the 2nd car I was unable to get said awesome driver's number, but I did notice the number on the outbound first car was 1492, so if you could somehow determine who this person is and recognize 'em for a job well done, well, we citizens would appreciate it.

Perhaps if we spent more time rewarding good behavior, and putting good service and efficiency first, instead of silly political shenanigans (Mayor, Board, I'm looking at you), maybe we could have that greenie sustainable city we keep claiming to be all the time.

Sincerely,

The NJC.

March 9, 2008

Pictures, Because It Happened: New Signals On Irving and 9th, Hopefully Mayhem and Noise Will Die Down...

2319638529_da343fafe8.jpg Well, it seems the SFCTA meant what they said and said what they meant: as you can see by the picture here (as well as here on Flickr) the process of installing a better traffic signal system has begun.

After hopes were somewhat falsely raised last year, it's hoped that this will not only ensure safety, but perhaps speed things up for both cars AND trains. (And if you're really that curious here's why it makes that turn in the first place)

After a string of accidents, including the tragic accident last month, and other collisions reported in by loyal readers, and a hapless mini crusade, both here and on Mr. Mayor's "blog", it's nice to just see something happen at all. All this effort, just to get someone to acknowledge a promise made back in 2006.

I really hope they make this work, and if it does work out, I think the politicians and the folks at the assorted alphabet soup of agencies need to hear that if they do their jobs and make something work better for everyone (cars, transit, pedestrians, and residents) that's a GOOD thing, and screwing around, spending our money on foolishness isn't.

March 4, 2008

Another Larry David Day On the N-Judah: Apparently I Look Just Like Some Kid's Dad!

Today was a nice day. Great weather, and I got done with work early, which allowed me some time to enjoy a free afternoon at the DeYoung Museum, since it was First Tuesday. Wonderful.

So, after a quick client meeting downtown, I hopped on the Mighty N and started reading The Onion, and the train was not too crowded. Little did I know my Larry David Day was going to be starting up fairly soon.

Sometimes people-watching is part of the MUNI experience, but today was not one of them - I just wanted to go to the museum and avoid any MUNI related mayhem. As such, I did not notice the mom with the two kids get on the train at Duboce and Church.

More people got on the train. And all the while I didn't really pay attention to these folks and this noise a few seats away. Finally one of the kids built up into a crescendo of noise. "MOM! Look over there! MOM! Look over there! MOM! Look over there!"

Jeez, kid, why don't you record it on an MP3 and relax the vocal cords. Whatever. I kept reading The Onion.

"MOM! You SAID Dad was on a business trip, but he's not. He's over THERE!"

Ha ha, I thought. Someone's getting busted. This is some serious MUNI Street Theater! I kept reading, looking around for someone who's apparently in some trouble, maybe in some salacious affair or whatnot.

The mom kept shushing the kids, trying to keep 'em in line. Finally the older one (I have no idea how old kids are and can't tell by looking so who knows) says as loud as he can "MOM! He's wearing a black tshirt, he's sitting in the middle of the train, and he's RIGHT THERE READING THE PAPER!"

Oh. Crap. W.T.F???

I did my best to hide. Clearly, I resemble some child's dad, which, while sad for the child and all, does make me feel a little good, but what in the Hell is the Emily Post etiquette for being mistaken as someone's Not At Home Dad by some kid on the N Judah?

I did my best to hid behind the paper, but it was for naught. Fortunately, "Mom" was cool and said "Kids, that is NOT Dad, and I'll prove it."

Oh. Frak. Me.

The woman came over and smile and said "I'm really sorry about this...you do kind of resemble my husband, but I need to prove it, and, um, well I can't get my kid to settle down."

We were winding down Carl Street at this point and frankly I would have been happy to press a magic button and get an ejector seat out of that frakking N just to avoid this very situation. Give me violent hobos any day.

"Kids...this is NOT dad. He's just some guy on the train. Now cool it!"

Just some guy on the train. Hmm. Not bad. I was worried she was going to say something worse, but hey, all in day's work. I wanted to give her a card and say "hey I'm not just some guy on a train, I'm the guy who blogs about the train," but then I realized just how seriously lame that sounds and went back to reading the interview with Will Farrell.

Cue the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme.

PS: The museum was awesome, as always, and the view from the tower was spectacular!

February 16, 2008

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!

February 15, 2008

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."

Jeez.

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.

February 4, 2008

Victory (For Reals) at Irving and 9th!

The always informative and entertaining MattyMatt at SFist.com caught the latest agenda of the San Francisco County Transit Agency (SFCTA) and at tomorrow's meeting there's some pretty big news - it appears that the much touted, delayed, and awaited for signal improvements to the Irving/9th and Judah/9th intersections are finally being made!

You can go check out the agenda online, and scroll down to Item 13, where you can read more, and download a PDF of the plan also.

From what I'm reading, this has been fast-tracked to be done in 3 months. The upgrades are being made via Prop. K funds, and the N Judah trains will be getting their own signal, so cars won't have to risk getting rammed by a mega-ton train. I'm guessing in light of recent events this is getting a bit of a push, but you know what? I really don't care why they're doing it - I'm just glad they are, since this has the potential of being a win for everyone - cars, MUNI, MUNI riders, and pedestrians.

I'll keep an eye on this tomorrow and try and post something in between work breaks if I can....this is good news, though, and unlike in the past, someone is spending money and has presented a fairly detailed plan, which in government-ese means that they're more likely to be doing something than not (Funny how money has that effect on a situation.)

UPDATE: Rachel Gordon at the Chronicle has a short story on the Gate website now also.

January 25, 2008

MUNI Town Hall Meeting with Supervisor Carmen Chu January 30th!

Reader Jeff, who runs the extremely helpful Sunset District Events Calendar, alerted me to a MUNI Town Hall Meeting with Supervisor Carmen Chu. The meeting will be held on January 30th from 7-9pm at the Sunset Recreation Center at Lawton and 29th.

Supervisor Chu has quickly earned a reputation for paying attention to constituent concerns, particularly on MUNI issues, and trying to prod city government to do something. In other words, she's doing the job of a Supervisor, instead of using the job to get higher office or pull shenanigans. What a novel concept.

I will try and attend the meeting but if nothing else I'll post a reminder and encourage others to attend, for sure. If you attend the meeting, be sure to post your thoughts here afterwards, and if you can't make the meeting, try contacting Sup. Chu's office via the city's website.

I think when we have people trying to do something, anything to do the right thing, good citizens should encourage them to do so, and give 'em the support they need. It's much easier for those in charge to invent new ways to mis-spend money and ignore folks - it's a lot harder to try and do the job like one is supposed to.

Update: I couldn't make it to the meeting as I got a last minute assignment for the paying job and had to get it done immediately...so if anyone attended feel free to post comments on the site!

January 16, 2008

Reader Mail: Another Fatality on the N Judah

Holy guac! We just got word of news about another potential fatality on the N-Judah line this evening. Reader Jeff writes:

Greg:

News helicopters are overhead right now. Judah is closed off 28th Ave - 30th Ave. I just got home, but it looks like it happened about an hour ago.

My neighbor tells me someone was trying to get onto the train and got caught somehow. Passengers tried to alert the driver, but the train didn't stop in time.

I'm guessing the accident will be on the 11:00 news with all the details.

jeff

I got home around 8pm and missed this incident. This sounds pretty bad, though, so if anyone has info or details, please feel free to post in the comments. I'll be up for a few more hours to post details as they come in.

UPDATE: Bay City News has the story so far....

UPDATE 2:, The Chronicle has more information about the incident as well. This is so depressing.

Continue reading "Reader Mail: Another Fatality on the N Judah" »

January 7, 2008

MUNI Bullsh*t Results in Tragedy - Injury at Irving and 9th!

This is one of those times where all the "I told you so's " suck because it means someone got hurt - and I mean really hurt.

While having a pint at the Blackthorn Tavern, awaiting the begining of pub trivia, Bobby, the owner alerted me to a situation just outside the door. It seems that at 5:41 pm (according to sources on the spot) an outbound N-Judah making the potentially hazardous left turn hit and injured a woman who'd had trouble crossing the street. The combination of slick rails owing to the recent rain, combined with the fact that humans, cars and trains have to share a busy intersection have resulted in a needless tragedy.

Loyal readers will recall that we have tried, with marginal success, to try and improve safety at 9th and Irving, both here and at the Mayor's "blog" with mixed results. MUNI, in its imitable bureaucratic style, promised to "study" the "issue" and promised to do something.

Problem is, we were promised a "solution" (scramble signals that would give pedestrians their turn to cross the street, then keep them OFF THE ROAD when cars and LRVs and buses were in the intersection) that should have happened sometime in Spring 2007, but of course, after making promises to fix the problem they since have offered nothing but excuses and bullsh*t.

Now someone has been hurt, potentially fatally, and we can expect to pay out another big settlement because Mayor Newsom, the Board of Supervisors and the Esteemed MTA would rather talk and talk than do and do. (Ironic, since common sense would dictate that fixing the big problem would be cheaper in the long run than payouts for incidents like these, but I suppose in today's San Francsico, the hipper-than-thous can't be bothered.)

It was especially galling to hear some spokes-droid for MUNI pumping out true bullsh*t to the press about "how they continue to study how to make things safer" when they knew exactly what to do - but offered more BS at the time instead of just getting the job done.

Being right sucks in situations like this, because it means someone got hurt, and it was senseless. MUNI, the MTA, and the city of San Francisco should be ashamed of themselves. I don't give a good goddamn how cute the Mayor is or how great the scenery is. If we can't even have the basics of a safe, reliable transit system and a government that gets the things done, none of that means squat.

For shame, City That Once Knew How. For shame.

What Is Going on at 19th Avenue and Ulloa/Vicente? UPDATED

"Mason Powell," one of our loyal corrrespondents, reports that something is blocking 19th around Ulloa and Taraval, necessitating a re-route of the bus he was taking from the Daly City BART to Irving Street.

Trains don't seem to be delayed (too badly), however. Anyone see what happened?

UPDATE: Flickr user DeathByCamera took some pictures of the incident yesterday and posted them to Flickr and SFist's "contribute" section!

December 13, 2007

Early Morning Crash On the N-Judah: Readers Offer Eyewitness Accounts of Tragedy

This morning we had an unfortunate accident on the N-Judah at 7th and Irving today. Several readers posted comments or emails detailing what they saw....for example, Reader Lauren writes:

I was on the inbound train that arrived at the scene of the accident within minutes of it happening. It looked like a white pick-up trunk ran almost straight into the outbound train. There were injuries: I think it was the passenger of the pick-up. The shuttle buses were slow to arrive, so I walked down to Lincoln to try to catch the 71. The buses were so packed that some went by without picking us up. So, it took me about an extra hour to get to work today.

Reader Karolyn also sent in a comment:

This morning at appox 7:25am I arrived at 7th & Irving street saw 2 trains at 9th & Irving there was an outbound & inbound stuck at the corner people were hanging out of the door and the trains were not able to move in either direction. I decided to walk towards 9th but didnot see the car that was apparently hit since I needed to get to work. Decided to catch the 43 or 44 to Forrest Hill Station and there was another inbound N at 9th & Judah the conductor must have informed the people of the accident. Just another messed up day on the N Judah line. So sad when it is something your use to.

If anyone else has cell phone camera photos or other information, please send it in!

November 15, 2007

Reader News Alert: Accident at 9th and Irving Between N-Judah and a Honda?

Reader Patrick sent me an email about an hour ago indicating that there's been a collision between a Honda car and an N-Train at 9th and Irving. As I'm at work I can't just run down the street and check this out, so if any other Loyal Readers have any info to report, please do so in the comments section!

For those of you just joining us, I made safety at the 9th/Irving and 9th/Judah intersections a mini crusade, with mixed results. Any pedestrian, motorist, or mass transit rider, however can witness a host of near-misses and other problems at these intersections on a daily basis.

Maybe this accident will move along MUNI's folks, flush with Measure A money and whatnot, to get off their backsides and make good on a promise they were supposed to have fulfilled almost a year ago!

November 13, 2007

Reader Mail: A MUNI Driver and Our Fellow Citizens Come to the Rescue!

Reader Alexandra writes in with an interesting tale of a blocked entrance at Fillmore and Duboce, a "get it done" MUNI driver, some helpful passengers, and a crabby cabbie. Read on:

On the 9th around 1440 I was on my typical daily commute home...All of a sudden on filmore & duboce the J halts-there's a truck blocking the tracks...driiinnnng drinnnng nothing happens ...by now there's a taxi on the right site blaring his horn.

So the driver gets out with his coffee and it turns out that the truck broke down. The driver then announces over the intercom that he needs some guys to help push the truck out of the way. Oh..and he also tells the obnoxious driver politely to get his ass out of the taxi and help push.

What followed was just this great comical relief. The driver with his coffee, his back against the truck pushing with several guys from the J-Church and then the disgruntled taxi driver. About a second after they push the truck out of the way the muni help truck roars in....and the driver simply tells them that its all done.

When GTD comes to MUNI, everyone wins!

October 30, 2007

The Non Halloween Schedule For MUNI AKA Oh CRAP Was That A Quake????

Holy Crap!

Whilst writing a snarky post about the MUNI's massive frakups for Halloween-That-Is-Not-Is, I just got whacked by a really serious earthquake!

Wow!

Here's the latest from the MTA/MUNI. I am going to find out more about the quake....talk about live blogging....

September 11, 2007

Clang, Clang Clang Went the F*%$king Trolley: Last Night's Commute

Last night's rush hour going home was rather eventful. With a Giants game and a 49ers game at the same time, MUNI was rushing a lot of people to a lot of places, with some odd results. At least this time the signs on the N Judah said quite clearly that it was turning around at 22nd more often than not, which doesn't help much if you had to walk from 22nd to the ocean, but at least they were up front about it.

One of our trivia crew, Anna from Metblogs, was coming into the Inner Sunset via BART and the N, and was amazed at the situation, to which I simply said "Well now you know why there's an N Judah Chronicles!"

Odder still was the train I took to head down to the Blackthorn for Brainstormer pub trivia* which was ringing the warning bell as it rounded the corner from Carl to Irving. Now, this isn't that unusual if the driver is worried about pedestrians and the like. What was weird was that the bell kept on ringing after the turn.

And ringing, and ringing, and ringing, and ringing, and ringing, and ringing....and so on. Apparently the ringer got stuck somewhere early on down the line, and it kept on ringing. Loudly. And after I jumped off the train at Irving/9th, it just kept on ringing loudly, announcing its presence to the entire neighborhood.

Overall, a weird end to a busy day.

*Sadly, our Heroic Team tied for first place, only to end up in 2nd place due to the tiebreaking question about some survey about the number of times the French get it on. D'oh! But we still won enough Schrute Bucks to pay for the drinks next time! And we still had fun! Woo hoo!

August 16, 2007

Sometimes You Wonder What They Put In The Water Around Here....

Ever had one of those days where you finally get a moment to sit down and ask "just what is in the water around here?"

I am in the process of having one right now, and a bit of it seems MUNI related. Today I had a day where I was up early and had a laundry list of errands, work-related and not, all over the place. You know, the kind of day that's just perfect for a rock-solid system like MUNI. So I got out of the house and started down the list.

Eventually, I had to take an N to Church/Duboce. So far so good, everything went fine. In fact, I had time to sit down and get a coffee and watch the infamous J Church cars go by. Well sort of - it seemed like at least 1/2 were out of service for training, and the rest weren't making all their stops. In fact I got to watch a mini-revolt of people who patiently waited for an oncoming J car at a major stop and wave their fists in the air as it sped on by, ignoring them.

After taking care of a personal errand at mid-day, I had a whole host of stupid little work-related errands, all of which had to be done quickly, and, well, you can guess how that went. If anyone wants to know why the J Church line gets delayed so much, the interminable wait I had at the end of the line while all the trains stacked up is one clue.

Finally, I made it back to Duboce and Church to head back home and do more work. As you can see in the pictures I took, for some reason the stairs wouldn't go down on the second car, so they had to uncouple the cars, do something, then hook them back up, all the while more trains (including a second N) stacked up behind it.

Now, fortunately they were able to fix it, but I decided to get on the next N, since I knew it would not be crowded. That's also when things got really weird.

As I and a few other citizens boarded, we were treated to an unitelligble noise on the PA system, presumably from the driver. Since this was a MUNI car, it's not like we could understand much beyond something about "a lot of wrecks" and a general comment about "hiring out of town managers." The others on the N and I looked at each other and once we got through the Sunset Tunnel (where, at one point we actually went backwards), we began to wonder if we should get off, lest this be our ride on the train driven by the person who's decided to "check out" and doesn't care who they take with them.

Eventually I made it back to the Irving/9th intersection, where the lack of response to the safety campaign by MUNI and the Mayor reared its ugly head as both a car and an old lady almost got killed by all the mayhem at the green light. After going to the post office where I got more annoying news, I decided to park it, post a blog entry, and take an hour for myself to just relax, before heading out and doing another 2 dozen stupid errands.

How about you? See any MUNI breakdown drama today? Post in the comments below!

August 8, 2007

Riding One of Those Fancy Hybrid Buses: A Quick Review

By now, you are bound to have seen one of MUNI's fancy new hybrid buses around town. In my neighborhood they've been spotted on the 44 O'Shaughnessy and 29 Sunset lines, but they pop up with more frequency around town as more buses are introduced into the fleet.

I have tried these buses on several occaisions, either going to my favorite Chinese restaurant, Melisa's over in the Richmond.

More recently, I rode several on the 29 Sunset line from beginning to end on a wonderfully sunny day, as part of a new feature that was to have debuted already (MuniTrekker), but sadly I had to shelve the photos since many of them didn't come out as well as I would have liked. D'oh! Thus, I had to postpone the feature's debut. But at least I got this shot of the interior of the bus. Woo hoo.

Generally, I have to say, as buses go, these are a lot better to ride in than your standard, lurchy-jerky-make-you-queasy MUNI bus, as you wind your way around town. These are much more stable, and they are easier to board for most people as they don't have steps at the front and back door. An informal survey of bus drivers indicated that they found the new buses much easier to handle in traffic than the older models, and the view from the seats in the back (which are elevated) is quite nice. And there's the fact that they are a lot quieter, as well.

The one caveat I'd offer, along with that piece of conventional wisdom called "low floor buses will make MUNI perfect" that people chant over and over, is this - yes it's great that it's a "low floor" bus, but the sacrifice is a significant loss in the number of senior and disabled seats at the front, not to mention that some modles of wheelchair may have a harder time getting in the disabled area, even though getting on is much easier without the steps. When there are not a lot of folks on board, this can be mitigated a little, but when it gets crowded it could be trickier.

I've never been one to worship at the temple of Hybrids Are Superior To Everything, but I have to say, given how lousy the ride usually is on a regular MUNI bus, the prospect of a better ride is quite appealing. If it saves some money on the diesel bill and pollution, that's lovely as well.

If you've ridden a hybrid bus and have a comment, please post in the comments section!

July 27, 2007

MUNI Screw Up Brought to You By the Letters K L and M and a Friday Link to Metblogs

Thank the Good Lord I don't have to leave the Sunset until later (to go see the Simpsons Movie if you must know), as once again both MUNI and BART managed a nice blowout this morning, once again delaying people on their way to work.

Frankly, we just have to get used to this. Once again, the politicos in charge of MUNI are inventing new ways to drop the ball on actually fixing MUNI, but do manage to look good when smiling for magazine covers....just like they talk a good game but do nothing to make good on past promises to make the N safer and faster.

On a lighter note, the super-cool Anna at SF Metblogs was kind enough to link to what will probably be our last T Shirt with Goodstorm - our Stop Global Warming - Ban Burning Man shirt.

I have nothing personally against Burning Man per se - if .02% of the city's population has an interest in something and pursue it, more power to them. I just get tired of the intolerant, hipper than thou silliness these supposed purveyors of free expression love to rub in everyone else's face.

Funny how the people who speak loudest about tolernace, diversity, "fun" and whatnot tend to be as smug and exclusive as any frat house or society ball. Meanwhile, more people are at Comic-Con right now, and frankly, it's a lot more relevant to most people's entertainment than some party in a hot desert.

Enjoy your weekend!

July 9, 2007

And Now, Another Crusade: Making Irving and 9th and Judah and 9th More Safe

Hopefully, all of you Loyal Readers had a fun Fourth of July holiday. I went to a party at SF Metroblogging's Anna whose place featured the groovy view you see in the accompanying photo. Thanks, Anna!

However, as I was out and about on all these sunny days we had, a problem which won't go away, despite everyone's attempts to ignore it, reared its ugly head as it does most every day - the unsafe intersections at Irving/9th and Judah/9th.

Right now, the status quo is simple: no one wins. Every day you see plenty of near-misses as N-Judah trains try to make a left turn going outbound, or trains trying desperately to sync with the traffic lights, but can't because of other delays.

Cars are not having much fun - they're often stuck in the middle of the intersection and end up turning as the light changes to red, clashing with pedestrians. And people walking or riding a bike? Well, even for those who can sprint across the street, it's a crapshoot, and for our seniors and disabled citizens, it can be really tough. This is not working for anyone.

The funny thing is, we were promised a fairly obvious solution to this rather serious issue way back in November 2006, when assorted citizens and Sup. Mirkarimi challenged MUNI management on this issue.

Continue reading "And Now, Another Crusade: Making Irving and 9th and Judah and 9th More Safe" »

July 2, 2007

So How Was Your Commute Today?

So how was your commute today?

The Chronicle reports no major dramas, so far, and my own limited experience has been fine. In fact, today was the first time in like, forever, that I went to Safeway on Market, exited the store and a virtually empty N-Judah car pulled up, around 4ish, and was air conditioned quite nicely! I was shocked.

I took a few pics of a very busy Duboce and Church intersection as several J's were changed to N Outbound, one N was changed to a J Outbound, and so on.

How was your day? If nothing else, the weather was really great today! Not a hint of fog, even in the Sunset!

So How Was Your Commute Today?

So how was your commute today?

The Chronicle reports no major dramas, so far, and my own limited experience has been fine. In fact, today was the first time in like, forever, that I went to Safeway on Market, exited the store and a virtually empty N-Judah car pulled up, around 4ish, and was air conditioned quite nicely! I was shocked.

I took a few pics of a very busy Duboce and Church intersection as several J's were changed to N Outbound, one N was changed to a J Outbound, and so on.

And, in a bit of irony, some hapless volunteers were out at the 9th and Irving N Judah stop trying to get signatures to get Mayor Newsom on the ballot. Somehow, I think anyone running for re-election in this town might wanna consider alternate venues....

How was your day? If nothing else, the weather was really great today! Not a hint of fog, even in the Sunset!

May 24, 2007

A Moment of Praise for the Patient 6-Parnassus Driver Today

These days, given the N's foibles, I've been "cheating" on my beloved N and taking the 6-Parnassus when it's convenient. Yeah, I know, but I can't wait for MUNI to figure out how to fix the trains and wait decades to get home during rush hour.

Anyway, today whilst taking the 6, when the bus approached the intersection of Haight and Masonic (always a scene and not in a good way) , it turned out we were arriving as the SFFD and SFPD were cleaning up an accident involving a scooter that was leaking gasoline. In other words, there was going to be a delay.

The bus driver took pains to ask the police involved how long it would be before the accident would be cleared up so she could make the left on to Masonic, and assured passengers that she was doing what she could to get us past said accident. She was professional with both cops and riders and reminded us she couldn't just let us out on a busy street on Haight since there'd be a serious risk of someone getting hit by the 71 or the cars.

Now, this is when some of our fellow citizens on the bus chose to act like a bunch of snotty hipster bitches, and started shouting nonsense at the driver, demanding to be let off the bus immediately. Even after several of us told them to pipe down because the driver was on the case, they kept on acting like jerks. The driver made a good point, saying that the injured scooter guy probably didn't plan on getting in a serious accident during rush hour, and that a little patience while the poor guy was carried out on a stretcher was in order.

Within minutes, we were on our way. Hipster bitches got off the bus. I said a special thank you to the driver when I departed, and thought "Hey, why not post at least some positive news for a change."

It's times like these I wish the MUNI driver's union would do more for the driver of bus 5421 on the 6 Parnassus who was trying to help passengers, instead of defend the top 25 jerks who cause all the problems. Seriously.

May 21, 2007

Argh...A Mini Meltdown At My Own Blog...And A Short Story About BTB Day...

The one time I didn't compose a posting offline, complete with links and whatnots, and that's the one time my ISP decides to pull a MUNI and crap out on me. I cannot communicate just how frustrating this is. Lesson learned - never compose a complex posting online, and follow the rules one sets out for themselves, in this case don't compose online.

I'll reconstruct it and repost it later on. Meanwhile, I will regale you all with an incident that happened after the infamous Bay To Breakers event yesterday, which according to our friends at SFist had some issues Sunday.

So, there I was minding my own business, heading out from the Duboce Park Cafe towards downtown. As you all may or may not have been aware, MUNI was in overdrive (sort of) providing extra trains and buses and 7 dollar fun rides for all those people after the big race.

Anyway, so as I wait for my N to show up, one pulls up and it is packed, sardine-style, with happy people from all over the city. What I did not count on, however, was seeing the N used as a recycling truck. Yes, that's right. You see, two enterprising individuals took it upon themselves to collect nine huge garbage bags worth of plastic water bottles in hopes of getting the CRV for each. So, intelligently, they chose to take an N on the most packed day of the season.

Yeah. That was my reaction too.

Oh, but it gets better. You see, as I watched these two Rhodes Scholars try to get all of these huge bags off the super-crowded N-Judah, I noticed that one bag was starting to snag on the handrail by the exit. Before I could say "Stop, kind gentlemen, you're about to spill f*cking bottles all over the place," it tore open. Suddenly the stop, the train floor and the sidewalk were covered in stupid water bottles. Of course this delayed things even more.

Finally, I managed to get on the train, while everyone else was trying to kick water bottles out the door. The Genius Duo decided to snap every one of them up, and had no problem reaching under the about to start moving train to grab every last one of them. News flash, geniuses - you can still redeem the bottles if they are flat. You cannot, however, get a new hand if your existing one gets chopped off, at the recyclers.

I was glad to get off the train when I did and go about the rest of my day. I did leave MUNI wondering a few things - one was why it is they can have enough trains to run for BTB, but not for the daily commute. The other was how much it costs MUNI to service all these big special events - and how it is that MUNI riders are the ones that end up shouldering the costs for these things (in both actual costs and lost service) and not those who created the added burden in the first place?

April 27, 2007

MUNI Street Theater: Grindhouse Horror Edition AKA Today's Evening Commute

Today we have another potential MUNI Street Theater production, and it's potentially a grindhouse horror film.

Like all horror movies, it starts out just fine - if you look outside the weather promises to be outstanding! The potential victims go about their day as if nothing will go wrong. And like in all grindhouse horror films, that's usually the calm before the storm.

Now, you can almost count on delays at this point, in particular on our Beloved N. If I wrote about every lengthy delay I've had on the line this week I'd fill up the server with endless tales of woe. Despite the assurances from the bureau-bots that "everything is fine", well, it isn't. Reading the comments and e-mails from Loyal Readers is just reinforcing that observation.

Then, of course, the lovely people of "Critical Mass" will be having their taxpayer-sponsored fun today. You all know what I think of these games, and how the City plays favorites with "fun" in this town.

I'm not one to help the Powers That Be fuel tensions, but instead suggest to those of you who work downtown to take off early today. It's a sunny day anyway - why not cut out of work early with some plausible made-up excuse, go meet with friends elsewhere, and enjoy the day as best you can, instead of fighting MUNI, traffic, and 1000s of angry people (who are still mad about a stolen cookie or something) for hours and hours after work?

That's the best way to avoid MUNI Street Theater: Grindhouse Horror Edition, and enjoy a great Friday! Feel free to post your experiences in the comments section this weekend!

SPECIAL NOTE: SF Weekly is taking votes for their "Best Of" issue and if you are so inclined, I'd love it if you voted the N Judah Chronicles "Best Blog." Drinks on the blog if Mason and I win!

April 19, 2007

Thursday Commute: How's It Going So Far?

I took a few days off because frankly, after last week's disaster, and the Cylon-esque T-Third Ceremonies (for which I'll post a short article and photos later), I needed a break.

However I wanted to start an open thread here on today's commute, which according to the Chronicle is potentially a disaster as the Giants have an afternoon game, and they'll be trying to cram as many trains in the tunnel as possible.

Given many of the problems people have been talking about, similar to the one that Metroblogging SF writer Jason DeFillippo reported yesterday, it makes me a bit worried.

Post your observations in the comments. Also, feel free to discuss the latest ratings by citizens of MUNI, which has dropped to a C-. Is that acceptable to you as a MUNI rider? Or perhaps should MUNI shoot a little higher?

PS: If you haven't already seen this absolutely priceless photo by Luke Thomas at Fog City Journal, check it out. It was taken during the big Meltdown of 2007 last week. What captions would you come up with for our Fearless Leaders?

April 12, 2007

Past Apologies, Current Events, and More!

Well these last few days have been rather dramatic, eh?

"Mason Powell" found this apology from a simliar crisis in 1981, which was posted on shelters, buses, etc. so I posted a copy (which originally appeared in the book "Tours of Discovery" by Anthony Perles) on Flickr for everyone's enjoyment.

I also had the chance to talk to NBC 11 today about the recent MUNI follies. If you're near a TV at 5 or 6pm, and you're interested in seeing me look like a goofball on TV, check it out.

After the interview, I took the N-Judah to the Inner Sunset(where a particularly distressed gentleman finally shook his head in disbelief and shouted "WHERE ARE THE N JUDAHS?!?"). Upon departing the train, I ran into Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and the Senior Action Network, who were holding a press conference with the SFPD about pedestrian safety on sidewalks. I took a few quick photos, and once they were finished, took the opportunity to ask Sup. Mirkarimi a few questions.

As some of you may recall, during a town hall meeting on MUNI last fall, scramble signals on Irving and 9th and Judah and 9th were promised to help speed up the trains and improve safety for pedestrians and cars. This promise has not only not been kept, but now MUNI is fighting the effort entirely, and Sup. Mirkarimi was clearly ticked off about it.

He told me that another Town Hall Meeting on MUNI is coming - one where you can ask any question you want and they'll be followed up as before. We'll definitely be keeping you posted on that when a date is set!

Keep sending in your comments about your experiences this week, and don't be shy about sending your comments to all the Supervisors who represent the N-Judah line. The Mayor and the Board can't ignore us if we all make enough noise.

UPDATE: Some have suggested that those upset about the recent follies pay a visit to the MTA, MUNI, and assorted local dignitaries on Saturday. Hmm.....

April 11, 2007

Being MUNI Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry...

Although I still would like to hear your tales of commuting woe, this bit of news merited an entry on its own.

As I mentioned earlier, SFist hero MattyMatt posed some video detailing the dreadful N-Judah performance on Tuesday, and included a link to a pretty sincere apology from MUNI director Nate Ford.

45 minutes later, it was removed, and this error screen appeared in its place.

I have no doubt Nate Ford was trying to be honest about the situation, in particular apologizing for MUNI's seeming inability to communicate with the public, despite paying all those pros all that money.

I also have no doubt that upon seeing such an apology, some MUNI or MTA bureaucrat took it down.

Time to make 'em all accountable: the Mayor, the MTA board, the Board of Supervisors, all of 'em. And someone needs to say they're sorry.

April 10, 2007

Did Today's Commute Suck, or What? - UPDATED

Wow. It seemed like today we had a Commute From Hell Festival today on MUNI. First, we had a derailment this morning which created endless amounts of fun for everyone. This is on the heels of a less-than-stellar opening of the T-Third, and the confusion caused by the switchover from the N to the T for trains headed to Caltrain.

This afternoon was not much better. When I went to the Montgomery Station to catch a much-needed N around 4:30 or so, I (and a lot of my fellow riders) waited for an N to show up.

While talking to everyone on the platform, many people reported that when their commute this morning was delayed, they were told the cause was not just the derailment but the odd "too many trains in the tunnel" line instead. Curious.

I talked to a passenger who'd been waiting in the Montgomery Station since 4:15 waiting for an N,with no luck. We waited, and waited and waited, until an N showed up at 4:55 or so. Sure enough, the N was already crowded, leaving little room for all the passengers getting on at Montgomery Station.

I quickly did some math and realized that frankly, it didn't matter if I got on or not - by the time the N got to my post office, it'd be closed. So I gave up and went back upstairs to meet up with a friend instead and waited out the storm.

I'd like to hear from more of my fellow N-Judah riders about how your commute has improved (or declined) following the changes to the line, and what (if anything) you were told while you waited and waited and waited....

UPDATE: The MTA/MUNI website is a mess, so I found this link where you can send in your complaints. Sure, they may end up going down the MUNI Black Hole of Non-Responsiveness, but try it anyway.

UPDATE 2: MattyMatt of SFist posted this great video, as well as an apology from MUNI director Nate Ford. Check it out.

I think it is great that Nate Ford has chosen to act like a responsible person in this very crappy situation. Too bad the MTA board, the Board of Supervisors, and the Mayor couldn't find the courage to do the same.

Muni Street Theater: High Drama on the N and the T

This weekend, I took the much dreaded N-to-T switchover to catch a Caltrain to the Peninsula on Easter Sunday. While my experience on the T-Third itself seems to have gone more smoothly than it did for others, those of us waiting for the T had plenty of High Drama to watch as Muni Street Theater made a springtime comeback.

Coming Attractions included this array of confusing signs in the Embarcadero. Several tourists who wanted to take Caltrain were clearly confused and asked me which sign was right. I was not at the Embarcadero on Saturday, the first day of the Big Switch, so I can only imagine what it was like when all the Giants fans wanted to go to the game, and MUNI did its usual stellar job of communicating the change.

Then the main act came into full swing. An N car had pulled up and everyone got off the train, except for this one guy who was hunched over, apparently asleep. The MUNI operator politely, but firmly, tried to wake the guy up and send him on his way, but each time he literally did not move.

You could sense the tension as the operator started to wonder if the guy had died on the train, and as this short interlude extended into the main act, another one backed up behind it, then a T-Third that was due to take us all to the train station.

Continue reading "Muni Street Theater: High Drama on the N and the T" »

March 29, 2007

Giants Fans and Media Alert! Changes to the N-Judah Will Affect Your Trip to the Ballpark!

UPDATE JUNE 29th: N-Judah service HAS BEEN RESTORED TO THE BALLPARK! If you found this page on Google, please disregard it and read this update instead!

Giants fans! For years you may have been taking the N-Judah to the ballpark to avoid having to park in an expensive lot, or to enjoy the thrill of mass transit with your fellow baseball fans. Yay!

However, be aware of some changes that are timed in such a way that might make things a bit confusing, so as a public service I'm laying it out for everyone to make sure people can get to the game easily.

If you are going to Opening Day on April 3rd or any game on April 3rd-6th, take the N-Judah like your normally would. The train will still go to the ballpark on those days.

Alternately , if you're an out-of-towner on BART (or just not coming from the Sunset), take your mode of transit to town, switch off at Powell, Montgomery or Embarcadero Stations to the N-Judah, and proceed directly to the ballpark.

Starting April 7th, the N-Judah will NO LONGER GO TO THE BALLPARK. So, if you're going that day to see the Giants play the Dodgers, you will have to get off the N-Judah and and switch to a T-Third or a J-Church train somewhere downtown.

Alternately , if you're an out-of-towner on BART (or just not coming from the J-Church or T-Third lines), take your mode of transit to town, switch off at Powell, Montgomery or Embarcadero Stations to the T-Third or J-Church, and proceed directly to the ballpark!

Be sure to take note of which day you're going to the ballpark and make plans accordingly!

You can download a copy of the Giants schedule and make a note if you like. It's easy to forget after making such a habit of taking the N to the ballpark - heck even I would most likely go on "autopilot" and forget, and I write a freakin' blog about the N-Judah! So there's no shame in not knowing - just try and keep informed ahead of time so you're not late to the game!

After years of telling people to take the N to the park, it will not be easy at first to get fans to realize they need to switch and take the T or J instead, but here's to hoping MUNI will post some extra big signs on the 7th for the big switchover!

March 20, 2007

Hey MUNI! What's Wrong With This Picture?

Ah, NextBus, If you ever want to start something, start talkin' NextBus and you set off a range of emotions, urban legends and angst that can set off people like few other issues can.

Then, of course, there's this little error on 9th, at Irving I spotted this weekend (as did one of our loyal readers from SF State!) Now, my camera phone's shutter speed can't capture a flickering NextBus sign in its entirety, but if you look closely you'll see a NextBus sign freshly installed at a stop that only serves the 44 O'Shaughnessy.

One problem: the sign is a light up sign for....the N-Judah. Another problem: every thing I've read suggests that diesel lines (such as the 44) are going to be the last ones to get a NextBus upgrade.

Hmm...

March 15, 2007

Yes, It's A New NextBus Sign, and YES, it WORKS.

SFist posted some new news regarding the availability of NextBus info for several lines. The saga of NextBus has been one of mythology, facts, and a mashup of the two that have made for some interesting theories, discussion and whatnot.

So in the spirit of posting some hot, new, reliable NextBus info, here is a picture of a brand new NextBus sign at the corner of 16th and Valencia. Due to my cameraphone's lame shutter speed, the light up board is incomplete in this picture. However, I can assure you, yes it works just fine and looks spectacular.

Enjoy!

March 2, 2007

A Moment of Truth, Almost Daily, On the N-Judah

Being the kind of person I am, I think about all sorts of things. One, though that crosses my mind almost daily as I take the N-Judah inbound is what I call the "Moment of Truth" when it passes through the Duboce/Church intersection and into the tunnel.

Almost every time, it needs to stop just before it enters the tunnel to allow for traffic from other underground lines headed for the stations downtown. And every time it does, I begin to wonder what would happen if the power was cut (due to technical delays or a natural disaster) and suddenly, all of us on the N were stuck in the car.

There's no easy way out. The space between the doors and the sides of the tunnel entrance are extremely narrow, and even if one could override the doors and open them up, it's hard to see how you'd evacuate everyone out, esp. seniors, the disabled, etc. And I've yet to see an escape hatch on top (although perhaps it's just camouflaged?) like one has on a bus.

I certainly hope neither I, nor any of my fellow MUNI riders ever get stuck there, but if anyone has an escape plan email me ASAP!

February 25, 2007

Fare Evader Junkie Logic - Celebrity Style

Whenever I listen to the plaintive cries of fare-evaders I wish I could tape the "junkie logic" these folks use to try and explain away why they boarded without paying like the rest of us citizens.

Just the other day I couldn't help but laugh at yet another well-heeled upscale hipster, trying to explain why he didn't have a transfer or a pass in the Van Ness station that utilized such extreme junkie logic, even the MUNI fare inspector had a look on their face of "Oh my God, I've finally heard it all." Trying to remember it properly just gives me a headache.

Then I opened up the Examiner and read junkie logic, boomer celebrity style in the form of Ken Garcia's column in the Examiner. Now, normally I don't spend a lot of time reading Ken's columns since I pretty much know what he's going to say in advance on any issue, but the headline made me curious.

After reading it, it was clear what the problem was - he doesn't mind the MUNI fare inspectors doing their job and applying the rules to Everyone Else, he just doesn't like it applied to his own kid or her friends. While admitting, yes, they screwed up, he feels his kids and their friends should have gotten a mere warning, while you, I, and Everyone Else should get a big ticket and more.

Apparently, fare inspectors are to deduce that kids from the good part of town deserve a pass, while another kid with the same story (and from a part of town Mr. Garcia doesn't like) should get a ticket and a slap upside the head.

After all, shouldn't MUNI inspectors just "know" that "good kids" (i.e. his) deserve a break? And if they don't, that must be because (as he alleges without any statistical evidence) "most" transit inspectors are ex-thugs and not qualified to do their job - simply because, well, they did it "too well." See how junkie logic works? Yeah, my head is spinning too. And not in the good way.

It's not his kid's fault, and it's certainly not his fault as a parent for not buying his kid a bus pass, it's always Someone Else's Fault. (Thank you, baby boomers for that gem of current American life) But if you or I screw up on MUNI, don't look for any sympathy from Mr. Garcia and his band of junkie logic practicioners - it never works that way!

January 26, 2007

Ever Had a Day That Made You Wish You'd Stayed At Home?

Some days make you wish you'd stayed at home. Today was mine. And it wasn't because of the rain. Rather, it was one of those days where doing the simplest tasks took longer than they should have, and the many irritants we have come to know on the N-Judah all got together and had a Rainy Day Party.

Now the rain is fine, it wasn't that big a deal, just a minor annoyance on way out the door from the 150th day of noisy upgrades and repairs at my building. It's an older building and it's groovy the owners are fixing up all sorts of stuff that needs to be done - but the constant noise + random power outages make it hard to do my work. So I escaped, rain be damned.

After heading down to the Civic Center to take care of some business, I had lunch, and took a look at the NextBus listings for the N-Judah line. Why, in only 25 minutes my N Judah train was due to show up at Van Ness! And I was a mere 10 minutes away on foot! How fortuitous!

Not.

Instead, as is the case every time I use the Van Ness Station and am in a rush, the moment I entered the station, the quantum resonance of the universe changed, and I (along with 100 deep of my fellow N-Judah riders) were stuck waiting a lot longer than 25 minutes or 10 minutes or whatever the heck it should have been, and got to watch an unending conga line of Ks, Ls, and Ms, with hardly any passengers. How does this happen?

Continue reading "Ever Had a Day That Made You Wish You'd Stayed At Home?" »

January 19, 2007

There Are No Atheists in Foxholes or on MUNI

A number of readers have been asking me when MUNI would restore nighttime service to the N-Judah line, and one day, whilst leaving the N at the Embarcadero Station downtown, I saw this sign and snapped a photo.

True, it means Really Bad News for the KLM riders - starting soon they're going to have to take a shuttle bus out to West Portal and points beyond. But look carefully and you'll see - N Judah service is restored (complete with the new blue ciricled N in the logo!)

So, that's good news for some of us, anyway. I was really starting to wonder if I'd ever be able to take the N home at night ever again....

Special Note: This posting marks the 100th posting here at the N-Judah Chronicles! Woo hoo!

January 17, 2007

The Most Acrobatic Boarding of an N-Judah Ever

The other day I was walking out of the Safeway on Market Street and saw what I am now thinking is the most intricate and acrobatic boarding of a streetcar yet.

As I was walking across the street, I could hear someone running behind me. I turned around to look and saw this tall guy, probably in his late 50s or early 60s running with at least 6 bags of groceries in hand, and a 12 pack of diet soda.

That's a lot to carry anyways, but what was really impressive was his additional "cargo." I looked and at first I thought he had a feather boa or scarf or something around his neck (hey, it's San Francisco, and stuff like that's no big deal). Then I looked again.

It turned out he had his DOG wrapped around his neck, sitting on his shoulders! And from the looks of it, this seemed like something dog owner and dog had practiced quite a bit, since the little dog was seemingly happy, wagging its tail and looking around like this was no big deal. Which, when you think about it is really something, because this guy is running and the dog could easily fall off, if it wasn't trained properly.

Just another day on the N-Judah line.

January 5, 2007

Happy 2007 From the N Judah Chronicles!

First off, I want to say Happy 2007 to the loyal readers which have made running this site so much fun. I am happy to report that the technical problems that were causing some serious problems at this site have been taken care of (spammers must die) , and I can safely resume a normal schedule this weekend. Hooray!

This year is going to be an interesting one for riders of the N-Judah, and for MUNI riders in general. Starting next week, the T-Third line starts free weekend service, which means eventually some big changes to the N-Judah line as well.

It will be interesting to see how these changes, and more, affect the daily commute. Plus, we have other changes, planned and unplanned, coming to MUNI, which promise to make things fun, both in the 'good' way and the 'grist for the mill' way.

I am also making some changes to the site as well. In particular, I want to increase participation by readers, first via sharing photos of your experiences on MUNI via Flickr, and having people email me their experiences to broaden the reach of the site. I am also going to be rolling out some new features over the next few weeks as well - keep reading and look for them!

Also, thanks to loyal reader Jamison, I have successfully conquered a good portion of the spam that was killing my servers here.

Finally, in the spirit of fun and support for local businesses, I have begun plans to organize a pub crawl on the N-Judah line, time and date TBA. I would very much like your suggestions or ideas to make this event fun for all.

Thanks for your patience and keep reading the blog!

October 13, 2006

Holy Triskadecaphobia! Muni + Cable Cars Melt Down!

Yeah, really. I would have posted sooner, but hey, Battlestar Galactica and an ice-cold beer beckoned to me sooner. No, seriously, I got off of BART and found that the MUNI downtown was out of service.

Determined to get the frak out of Dodge, I figured, "Hey, I have a MUNI pass, let's take that crazy Cable Car" but it was for naught, as it seems there was a 911 call with La Policia y Los Bomberos De San Francisco responding, and blocking the way. Fine.

I took this as a cue to have a drink downtown at a favorite bar and not get all worked up about Friday the 13th. After all, if the worst thing that was happening was a MUNI meltdown that got me a nice cocktail at happy hour, and perhaps a moment to pause and think about things not hyper-work related, well, who's complaining?

Besides, I got home in time to watch Battlestar Galactica, and that's all that matters, right?

September 14, 2006

Mayor Newsom Gets an Earful, and Maggie Lynch Says a Mouthful - The Latest MUNI Blowout!

On Wednesday, I hopped on MUNI, to take a trip downtown to check out the "soft launch" of the Market St. Railway Museum and take a few pictures. Although the "official" opening is not until early October, the Museum is open now and has some great exhibits plus some really nice photos and posters for sale. What could possibly go wrong?

Little did I know we were going to have Yet Another Muni Blowout, and we were also going to get Yet Another Mindbending Quote from Muni Spokesdroid Maggie Lynch. I was amazed.

First, of course, was the meltdown itself, when we were all stuck on the N-Judah waiting to go into the tunnel, only to find out that a train ahead of us was "stuck" and we had to get out. There is nothing as fun as being cooped up in a crowded train, not knowing what's going on - or why you can't leave.

The many rush-hour commuters that morning were just thrilled to get out en masse to try and catch a train on the F-Line, or one at the Church St. Station. The poor station agent just let the masses in, to speed things up for people so they could get to work on time. No one was happy, to say the least.

But the real fun was watching coverage on KPIX News about the latest meltdown, in particular this gem of a quote from our well-paid spokesdroid:

Muni spokesperson Maggie Lynch said, "Unfortunately, what we've had is like Lemony Snicket -- a series of unfortunate events -- and they just came all together, and it makes it seem like there is an overriding problem."

Put aside for a moment the mismanaged cultural reference, and read that statement again. It flies in the face of any reasonable nalysis of the many analyses of MUNI indicating significant systemic perfomance problems with MUNI management and service.

To somehow suggest that there's "no problem" after Yet Another MUNI Folly Day, as MUNI's spokesperson does is simply amazing. I can't fathom how someone could say something like this with a straight face, much less repeat it to the press and expect to be taken seriously.

However, Mayor Newsom does not seem amused by the latest antics. Let's hope he can suggest to the well-heeled managers of MUNI it is in their interest to get things on the move. Something's gotta change soon, or we're all going to be a city of de facto pedestrians, outrunning MUNI.

UPDATE, 9/16: The Chronicle recaps the week in Muni Follies, with a bonus of both an F-line closuer and our famous Cable Cars as well. And we got more silliness from MUNI's spokesdroid.

I wonder if we are at that point in our culture where an agency can routinely screw up and the People In Charge can keep peddling the PR that "nothing's wrong" and still a) be taken seriously by The Media and The Public and b) keep getting paid out of our taxes and fares?

September 8, 2006

MUNI, Nate Ford, Still "On Notice" AKA Friday Follies and Fun!

So this is why the N was running so strangely today. I knew something was up when I saw packed cars full of folks going outbound in the middle of the day, and other strange behavior. Makes me glad I'm not in a rush to get anywhere today. Unfortunately, the folks trying to get home on a Friday probably aren't too happy.

MUNI? Nate Ford? You're still "On Notice..."

UPDATE 9/12/06:Wow! Put the SF weather "on notice' and suddenly it's nice and hot again! If you're not outside already, do so at once! We're getting one of our promised "warm" fall days, so enjoy it!

newon.jpg

More thorough blog fun up and coming once the Internet is restored at the N-Judah Chronicles' headquarters in the scenic Inner Sunset!

August 3, 2006

A "MUNI Survival Guide" I Found Online....

Hopefully the MUNI Mini-Meltdown of Yesterday hasn't ruined your life too much and you're having a better day today than yesterday. Although I work out of my home, I rely on MUNI when I have multiple meetings and errands to run and when I realized what had happened, I just stayed at home and pushed everything over a few days.

I found this unusual "MUNI Survival Guilde" online while doing a Google search. If anyone has any idea who did this, I'd like to know so I can A) give them credit for their work and B) high-five them on the coining of the term "Edgehog." Enjoy.

July 21, 2006

Fare Inspectors - Bringing Balance to the Force

N-Judah Chronicles contributor Mason Powell makes his blogging debut today. He's already been providing us photos, and now provides some commentary on fare inspectors!

It's not often that we get to see karma in action. Sure, we like to tell ourselves that the array of jerks that we encounter will "eventually get theirs", but how many times do we get to see it happen? Not very often. But when you get to see the cosmic forces at work, it can really be fun.

For example, a few weeks ago I was on the N-Judah on a somewhat crowded Thursday. I got on at Powell and headed outbound. Around Church & Duboce, in this fairly crowded car... a voice called out the words hippie wannabes and other deadbeats fear...

"Fast Pass, transfers, or tickets!"

The Fare Inspectors had arrived. And while sometimes it can be hard to shuffle things around to get out your Proof of Payment, everyone did and showed the inspector. Except for one. In a seat a few rows from where I was standing, sat someone who I had no opinion of until he opened his mouth. He was a Yuppie In Training. Let's call him "Chip". He's not quite to the point of having an SUV in the 'burbs with a trophy wife and accessory kids, but he's on the way.

Continue reading "Fare Inspectors - Bringing Balance to the Force" »

June 21, 2006

Ride Free on Muni, Pretty Much Everywhere, On Thursday!

If you didn't have enough to celebrate here in San Francisco, what with the hot, sunny weather we've been having and all sorts of exciting outdoor events downtown, now you have another reason to enjoy the week - and ride for free on Muni!

June 22nd has been declared a Spare the Air Day, due to the combination of heat and lack of wind, and to encourage people to get out of their cars and ride mass transit, you can ride for free on pretty much any mass transit system in the Bay Area!

For a complete list of participating agencies, check out this list at 511.org and if you aren't already a mass transit rider, take a chance tomorrow.

If nothing else, try taking a cable car on one of these sunny days (like I did today). Times like these reaffirm why it's kinda nice to live here. And it makes up for those gloomy days we had during the Haight St. Fair a few weeks ago!

May 25, 2006

When is an "L" Not an "L?" When You Connect From BART to Muni At Embarcadero...

Get this...so lately I've been doing the long-haul commute from SF to far out in the East Bay every day for a client for a while now...every day I dutifully get on the N-Judah very early, connecting with BART, and heading out. Now, in the morning it is pretty smooth and so long as I get up early enough and catch one of two N's, I make it out in time. Since most people on the N that early in the morning are either asleep, listening to music, or reading, there are few incidents on which to report for my faithful readers.

Ok, so that's groovy, but here is the strange part. Every night when I get back into SF, I get off at Embarcadero to catch an N-Judah home. And almost every time, the same thing happens. I get off the BART, walk down to the MUNI platform, and wait. Every time the automated voice announces "outbound trains" and counts off a pile of L's, M's and whatnots, and it seems from the announced times a mighty N-Judah is a ways away.

Then the weird thing happens - within moments, an "N" shows up out of the blue, totally unannounced! Now I'm not complaining per se - not having to wait 20-30 minutes for an N after all those random L's, M's and whatnots is nice. That said, I wonder why this keeps happening, and can imagine how frustrating it is for those taking an L-L, M or whatnot.

At this point I've stopped trying to figure it out and just count the blessing of not having to wait forever for the N to take me home after a long day of work!

April 27, 2006

Going Off The Rails In A Crazy Train (Station)

Muni Street Theater seemed to be on hiatus for a while, but the other day we had a new performance art troupe set up shop at Powell Street.

Recently I took on a client that required me to be on site for a short term basis over in the east bay, which has meant I have to get up rather early to get out to Lafayette by 7:30am. So, I find myself going through at least two downtown BART-to-Muni stations daily, which is great because as we all know, all Bay Area mass transit agencies work together to ensure a seamless travel day and get you on your way. Oh, did I mention the crack they sell on the BART really helps make the ride smoother?

But back to Muni Street Theater. I decided (foolishly) to get off BART on the way home at Powell St. instead of my usual stop for some unknown reason. As I got up the escalator I could hear noise. Then yelling. Then LOTS of noise and yelling. I had to see what was up.

Continue reading "Going Off The Rails In A Crazy Train (Station)" »

April 23, 2006

Who's Your Favorite Muni Driver?

Notable neighbor Craig of Craigslist made a mention of one of the more popular N-Judah Muni drivers on his blog last week, the unnamed driver who reminds us all that "Muni Loves You". Other blogs have noticed our happy driver as well.

I was on the N yesterday on the way home from a medical supplies run to Safeway on Market Street. I'd been sidelined by one of the worst allergy attacks I've had since I was a kid, and graced fellow riders with my red-eyed, runny self on the way and back. I'm sure they loved that.

Anyway, on the way back from said supply run, I had another driver (or maybe it was the same one) who was lightening up the mood by not turning off his microphone right away after announcing each stop. What was really funny was his reaction to a myriad of incompetent double parkers and bad drivers who were driving around like maniacs in front of an oncoming train.

"MOVE OVER RED ROVER!" he boomed at one point, and followed it up with "Please move aside, thank you sir!" and so on. It was one of those "had to be there moments" but it was pretty funny.

This reminded me of a conversation I overhead between two women commuting home one day, also noting the different kinds of drivers on the Muni, and one suggested someone come up with trading cards of popular Muni folks.

Interesting idea, eh? What kinds of trading cards could you come up with for Muni?

April 7, 2006

A Moment of Sun on the N and the 43

As you all know, we've been getting some rain this past month. No, make that a lot of rain. Day after day of dreary skies and wet days. It's been driving me nuts - I'm one of those people who really needs to be in the sun daily, otherwise it starts to affect me a little.

So yesterday, when I got an unexpected call from a friend who was in town, I decided to leave my home office early (around 3pm) and get outside. Plus, thanks to the inventors of this gadget I got way ahead on some work I was doing, so I was out of the office.

Immediately I felt better. So, I decied to meet my friend at USF, which usually calls for a 43 to campus. I got on the N to get to 9th Avenue, but started to wonder...should I get on the 43 at 9th, or should I stay on the famous N to Carl St. and Cole St.?

These are the questions someone who's been inside too long starts to debate in their head.

I decided on the latter, not realizing I was about to participate in a realtime comparitive test of the Muni system. You see, a couple of the more wildly dressed "youths" got off the train at 9th and Irving. The only reason I really noticed was because they were dressed in such a way you couldn't notice them. Longtime SF residents know exactly what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I got off the N at Carl and Cole and waited for a 43. When I finally got on the 43 I walked ot the back and whom did I run in to? The two youths who got off at 9th and Judah to take the 43! So the results of the unintended experiment were in - it made no difference which way I went - the timing was exactly the same!

I met up with my friend at USF, and we ended up stopping off at Tommy's Joynt before he headed off to some diplomatic affair at the German Consulate. If you haven't walked by this place, you really should sometime. Located on Jackson St., It looks like it belongs in a Le Carre novel or a James Bond movie. I kept expecting a clown to crash through the window with secret codes or something.

Anyway.

Thanks to Daylight Saving Time and the sun, I didn't feel like running home right away so I ended up taking a walk and ended up at Kennedy's on Columbus, had a Guinesss ($2!) and took a cable car back to Powell Station and talked to some of the day's tourists, and some natives catching a ride thanks to their Muni Pass. It was fun.

The sunlight and exercise and the Guinness moved me out of winter blahs and into a near euphoria by the time I got home. My roommate probably thinks I'm insane by now since I was so "up" when I got home. But that's what a little bit of sunlight can do for some folks.!

April 6, 2006

Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants....and Dear Mr. Ford...

If you're going to the big game today, be sure to take the N-Judah to the ballpark. It'll drop you off right in front of the stadium so you don't have to worry about parking, etc.

Also, be aware that you can no longer buy a return fare outside the stadium before the game like you could in the past. You're better off just paying at the farebox with your quarters and dollars instead, I think.

And, if you're connecting to BART or other transit don't forget to take advantage of these little incentives that'll shave oh, a quarter or so off your return fare home.

Enjoy the game and this window of good weather we're having...it's supposed to start raining again fairly soon!

PS: Be sure to check out the latest Dear Mr. Ford column at SFist.com for some interesting photos of Muni arrival times...

March 30, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the 44 O'Shaughnessy

So I was on the way to the 44 O'Shaughnessy at 9th and Judah the other day to see if going to the "other" Safeway (i.e. not the Market St. one on the N-Judah line) would be faster than taking my door to door service from home to store.

When I got there a Muni Bus was parked, doors closed. And instead of having a route on its LED board up front, instead it simply read "Nowhere In Particular." I couldn't see if someone was in the driver's seat or not.

I'd never seen such a thing before. But when I mentioned this to my friend "Mason Powell" (the nom de plum of my erstwhile deputy) he said that this is not unheard of, and the tradition started during the streetcar era (i.e. when streetcars went everywhere not just on the J, K, L, M, N and F lines).

Sure enough Google and Flickr, our two best friends, found this shot on Flickr of a bus just like the one I saw, and this reference to the classic streetcar signage of yesteryear.

Things like this make living here rather pleasant. I'll leave the bashing of the city to the naysayers and the choose-up-siders from out of town and elsewhere. And, my bus did come on time....and the trip to Safeway was just fine.

February 25, 2006

You Leave Town for A Couple of Days, And Suddenly...

Wow. I leave town for a few days and come home to hear about all the gas and water drama on the N-Judah I missed, as well as some words of wisdom from new Muni chief Nathaniel Ford.

While it is encouraging to hear a Muni Chief who is willing to buck the naysayers at the MTA who are too busy "balancing budgets" and throwing up their hands at the idea of providing reliable on time service, it's also a bit troubling when you hear noises that sound a lot like "let's make the buses on time by just cutting out more stops." Kinda Soviet-like.

We'll see, and hope for the best....

February 14, 2006

A Valentine from Muni at Rush Hour - Or Why I`m Stuck Downtown!

Quick hit for all you loyal readers - Muni has decided to give out not one but two Valentine's Day gifts to rush hour commuters tonight - slow Muni trains and a switching problem!

Nothing, not even my beloved N-Judah, is working properly, and my backup, the 6 Parnassus was so overloaded I couldn't get on the bus.

Maybe this is God and Muni's way of saying I should stay downtown for a drink instead of go home? Or perhaps just Muni's way of saying to San Francisco "I love you (well your money anyways, not your patronage).

Update: After posting this at the Apple Store on Stockton I got on a 6 Parnassus and had one of the worst bus rides yet on what is traditionally one of Muni's crappiest buses. Woo hoo!

December 27, 2005

A Christmas Gift From The System...or...Muni Rolls a Hard Six

Ever tried to coordinate a trip on Muni with a trip on Caltrain or BART? Although technically with all the schedules and whatnots and websites, and this and that, one SHOULD be able to plan a trip using both or all three systems. It doesn't usually work that way though. Especially on rainy days!

So when I left on Christmas Eve morning to go visit my mom in Burlingame, I just assumed I'd have to wait wait wait, and have the Usual Crazies on board my train, and just hoped for the best. Then, it seems, Muni decided to give me a Christmas present in the form of a flawless ride.

I walked up to the stop, and within a minute, the N-Judah showed up...on time. We made a short stop to add another car....but no matter....everyone on board was polite, friendly, and best of all, not screaming crazy. Even better, there seemed to be at least a dozen good looking women on the train too. What gives?

Even with the (brief) delay adding the 2nd car, and even with a tiny wait at Civic Center BART's ticket vendor machine, I walked down to BART and magically, a Millbrae/SFO train pulled right up. I literally did not stop moving from the time I left my house to the moment I got to my destination in Millbrae/Burlingame.

It was a great Christmas present from MUNI. Now, if only the Christmas Spirit of Muni would continue throughout the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2006 to all, and to all a good ride.

December 2, 2005

Back on the Job + A Free Plug for a New Muni Blog

After a month hiatus, I'm back. Those folks at Muni and the cast of characters on the N-Judah thought they were getting a free pass. No such luck, folks!

But first, before I do anything else I want to tell folks about a new Muni-oriented blog, Municide - which I just read about at the always-righteous SFist website. You gotta love the name - Municide - which I remember someone once using when there were a rash of Muni bus crashes some time ago. No matter - it is great to see someone usin' it and for good purpose.

In particular, I liked this line:

And let's make something perfectly clear: this blog isn't for constructive criticism that the good old folks over at Muni can use to make Muni better. We all know it's too late for that. All we're going to do is bitch.

Right on.

For those of you who took the Muni today, you had the distinct displeasure of contending with delays, lame co-riders, and whatnot, on a day that also featured lots of wind, rain, and overall crap-tacular weather. Now, a week ago, when temps were in the 70s, you can almost put up with a delay because the weather's nice. Not so when it's rainy, crappy, and all those smelly weirdos you couldn't stand before, become wet, grosser smelly weirdos.

The most fun, of course, is having to do something like go grocery shopping on the N-Judah, and have to lug even a few bags onto a newly packed Muni. All those people who walked are now on board, and guess what? They're all wet, and they're all seething at the fact it seems like they were waiting FOREVER for the stupid Muni to show up.

Guess what folks? You were waiting forever. All those abstracts about "balanced" approaches to Muni service matter not a whit, if in the end Muni doesn't realize its mission is to provide mass transit service for people in San Francisco, NOT "balance budgets" and rely on shaky tax structures to pay the bills.

Ah well. I'm sure they're paying top dollar at Muni for the finest execubots money can buy. Too bad corporate types have no clue how to do anything of value anymore. Otherwise we might see an improvement...

August 10, 2005

Iron Yuppie II - Electric Boogaloo

"I hate that Iron Yuppie. He thinks he's so big."
-Homer Simpson

So do I, Homer, so do I.

There's a certain, shared sense of space on the N-Judah streetcar in San Francisco. It's not the biggest streetcar on the planet, and at rush hour Muni finds ways to not put enough cars on the tracks, so like it or not, you're going to be shoved up against each other. No one cares about your station in life - no one has time to even think about it, because there's so damn many people on the train!

Life's rough. People take mass transit at rush hour in the real world.

There's also some decorum involved. That is, if you're a young hip professional with iPods and cell phones, and Blackberries (oh my!) and Elderly Frail Citizen climbs on board, you give up your seat for their use. It's not just courteous - it also happens to be the freakin' law.

However, the class of rider I nickname the "Iron Yuppie" does not think so. Not only do they not give up their seat, they get quite upset when you gently remind them of said rules.

This happened the other morning, a particularly crap-tastic one at that, given that the weather has gone from its usual summer coldfest to a particularly crap-tacular one. No one is happy about going to work anyway, and now they're wearing cold weather clothes. (Those that end up in the warmer parts of town are going to be sweltering later on, and they know it, so they're REALLY not happy).

So we're all on the N-Judah, accomodating each other as best we can. Iron Yuppie is sitting in the elder citizen/disabled citizen seats, reading his paper and listening to some fabulous Dave Matthews Band on his shiny, white iPod. How nice of Apple to make a device that matches its owner's appearance.

Then we stop. A kindly elderly woman makes her way up the steep streetcar stairs to go to wherever it is she's going. All of the seats up front are taken up by equally old and/or disabled folks. She looked around for a seat and people wanted to offer her a seat further in the car, but due to the mass of folks, no one could move out of the way to let her in. It was that packed.

All eyes gazed upon Iron Yuppie. Now, he was a clever one, pretending "not to notice" what was up, but it was clear to me he knew wha was up, and that he was NOT giving up "his" seat. After all, he has a freakin' iPod. Who are we to tell him what to do? Why should he abide by the rules we live by?

Kindly Elderly Lady was too polite to ask him to move. A shared moment amongst us riders was done so, silently, as we telepathically considered our options? A polite tap on the shoulder? A quick yank of the iPod headphones? A swift kick to the goolies? What?

Finally, the glare of one woman was enough to get Iron Yuppie's attention. She asked him to move so the Elderly Lady could sit. The train had arrived in Cole Valley by now and was packed to the rafters. No one was moving much at this point. Iron Yuppie would not be moved, though. He said (in a clipped tone) "Well I'm getting off past Embacadero, she can sit in my seat then."

This was not a good answer. My first thought was to simply say "Hey! Buddy! Get your freakin' ass off the freakin' seat before someone kicks your freakin' ass, motherhumper!" (yes I"m editing the language for the kiddies.)

But I didn't because, well it's crowded and well I'm good at talking smack. Inside my head.

Remember though, this ain't New York or Tokyo. This is San Francisco. If you've been reading you know that in SF, there's always Someone Who Will Speak Up. In this case it was the loud woman with the gold jewlery. She took up the Cause of the Elderly Lady, and gave Mr. Iron Yuppie a dose of 'tude that he would not ignore.

I was silently cheering. The noise of the train made it hard to hear every word, but the words "How dare you disrespect your elders" and "How would you like it if someone treated your mama like that" were loud enough to embarass even the steeliest of Iron Yuppies. When he started raising hackles, she just raised the volume and the 'tude. Thank you, God, for this woman who for now is an instrument of your Divine Will. And thank You for sticking it to the Iron Yuppie. Rat bastard iPod listening f-ck.

He slinked off at the next stop, and Elderly Lady got her seat. The packed train was happy. Justice had been served yet again on Muni, a rare moment when the Forces of Evil did not win this round.

There are plenty of times when Evil wins, but for a crappy morning in August, we had justice. It made the rest of the day just a wee bit better, and Elderly Lady didn't have to stand the whole way on the bus. All in all a nice way to start the day.

Coming up next: More Muni Etiquette and another installment of Muni Theater!

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