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January 25, 2014

Two VERY Important Meetings That Will DIRECTLY Affect the N and The Neighborhood!

Ok, I know I said I was going to be on hiatus working to FINALLY move this blog off of ancient MovableType and on to Word Press, but there are two meetings that people should know about that will have a direct effect on their commute, both for the short term, and in the years to come.

The first, is a meeting to be held on improvements to Irving Street on January 30th, at the San Francisco County Fair building. This is significant, because Irving Street is due to be repaved in 2015.

The SFMTA is holding a meeting, following up on the outreach done to the public for the Transit Effectiveness Project back in 2007-2008. The changes proposed will have a direct impact on the ability of the SFMTA to speed up the N and make it more efficient, while at the same time ensuring safety for everyone who uses the streets and sidewalks in the Inner Sunset.

You can read the details here. If you cannot attend, you can always send in your comments to the SFMTA directly, as well.

Bear in mind that it's important you speak up now and listen also to the extensive work already done on this - in order to be prepared for the 2015 repaving effort, the changes need to be approved in March 2014. Many changes have been made in other neighborhood with success, and no armageddon for local residents and businesses. Be sure to pay attention to this process as it goes forward.

(Please also note this has absolutely nothing to do with vague proposals about the future of Irving between 9th and 10th. That vague concept is a separate effort, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with improvements between Arguello and Irving/9th).

The second (and third) meetings you should be aware of relate to the Sunset Tunnel Trackway Improvement Project. You can read the details at the SFMTA website, in particular the weekend closures that will be necessary (and oh so fun!) during the project.

This is a big deal, so two meetings are scheduled: one will be held on January 29th at 6pm at the Electrical Workers Union Hall at 55 Fillmore Street.

The second will be held on February 6th at the Park Branch Library Community Room, also at 6pm, at 1833 Page Street.

Be sure to attend if you can, and hopefully we will see some interest from elected officials who represent the N Judah line show up and pay attention as well. Past experience has demonstrated that the SFMTA can always hold a nice meeting, but it's the follow-up and the results that matter more - something that's not always the SFMTA's strong suit.

Remember, you are an owner/rider of Muni, and only you can demand better. You're certainly not going to get any help, from the Mayor on down, without making sure they know you're paying attention this time.

March 21, 2013

Who Wants to Charter a Historic Streetcar This Year?

If you've never been on a "charter" ride on Muni's network of rails, you're really missing out on a fun afternoon. Last year I had the opportunity to participate in a ride via Market Street Railway celebrating Muni's 100th Anniversary, and we managed to tour the entire network (minus the T-Third Line, the subway, and the N-Judah line). Even with those omissions, it was fun, especially when our vintage car would stop, and people would ask what we were doing and take photos of our ride.

There's been discussion that said charter rides could be returning to the N-Judah line this year, and word is that some testing will be done once again late at night to ensure that almost all of the cars can go through (Right now there's only a few that can't make the turn at Arguello by UCSF because they are too wide). This could include...the Blackpool "Boat Tram."

At a meeting earlier this year I had with Ed Reiskin, the SFMTA's CEO, I told him that the moment they "legalize" the boat tram, I'd be down at cash-strapped Muni with a big bag of cash with a dollar sign on it, and sign up for one. I'm serious, and now I would like to gauge if there's interest in such a charter ride. Also, it's not unprecdented to do such a ride - after all there's photos online of people taking the "boat tram" through the Sunset Tunnel and Cole Valley, so technically it's already happened, right?

Setting up one of these is not that difficult - Market Street Railway posted info on how to do so recently (the charters are handled directly by Muni). Personally I think a ride from the Ferry Building to Ocean Beach would be a lot of fun, especially if the weather cooperates.

Lead time is a minimum of 2 months, and I'll need to do some figuring on costs, since while I'm happy to pony up the cash up front, I'm no Rob Conway so I can't afford to pay for everyone to ride for free. For now, I'd be interested in hearing from readers if a) they'd consider riding said charter and b) any suggestions to the route we might take, in the comments section below. AND, if anyone would be interested in helping sponsor said ride, please send me an email and let me know what you think.

This could be a really fun event, and if nothing else, I'll bring the boom box for the music!



April 19, 2012

Weekend Update: A Fix it Fair and Yet More Track Work on the N...

IMG_6260.JPGThis weekend we have a whole host of events going on in and around the N. First off - the fun one: the annual "Free Fix-It" Fair to be held on Saturday, the 21st from 10am-6pm at Irving and 6th. The hosts promise to try and fix anything "except electronics and relationships," and specialize in bike repairs, knife sharpening and the like. If you've never been to an event at the House Formerly Known As Yes We Can House, they are a mix of activities and mingling with neighbors, and are always enjoyable.

This could also be an antidote to the not-so-fun event this weekend - the repair work being done by the MTA on the N Judah tracks. As always, a bus shuttle will run connecting people downtown. If you live in the affected area and have problems, or just want a contact number in case noise or other issues persist, go to the SFMTA page for the project for a list of emails and phone numbers. From what I have heard, progress has remained steady, and best of all once it's done, it's DONE.

March 30, 2012

Due to Weather Conditions N-Judah Track Replacement to Continue This Weekend...Sort Of.

The recent rainy weather has been great for filling our reservoirs and our plant life, but it has caused some delays in recent weeks to the track replacement plan for the N Judah on Carl Street in recent weeks. Rain has been forecast for this weekend, so I contacted the MTA to find out if the work would go forward or not. They sent me this update, which indicates a scaled back work plan, but work, nonetheless.

Here's the latest update from the SFMTA, verbatim. As always, the weather may affect this schedule so if you're not sure what's going on, call the numbers listed below in the update and your questions will be answered.

Construction scheduled for March 30- April 2 has been scaled back due to the weather forecast.

Dear Neighbor/Business Merchant/Muni Customer:

Construction work will still take place and the N Judah Line will be under bus substitution. However, the extent and noise of the work will be at a reduced level. Driveway access will be maintained and there will not be overnight noise.

Work slated for the weekend of Friday, March 30 until Monday, April 2 includes:


  • Potholing work on Carl Street between Cole Street and the Sunset Portal Tunnel area

  • Roadway work on Carl Street between Hillway Avenue and Cole Street


Work hours on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The following measures will be taken for your safety and to minimize inconvenience:

  • Carl Street will remain open with two-way traffic and adjoining streets open as well

  • Street parking will not be available in and around the construction sites

  • Temporary bus stops on Frederick Street (two at Cole, two at Willard, and one at Stanyan) for the N bus shuttles will require parking removal

  • Local access will be granted and all local businesses will remain open


Driveway access will be maintained. However, there may be delays until equipment and/or trucks move out of the driveway area. Please notify a member of the construction crew on-site for assistance in safely accessing your driveway. Please contact Hubert Wong at 415.734.8432, Danielle Des Champs at 925.575.0011 or Jeremiah Kent at 510.815.0031.

Dates and details are subject to change due to weather and other unexpected conditions.

Muni Service

  • Muni buses will provide substitute service for the N Judah Line.

  • N Judah bus shuttles will substitute for N Line rail service and will operate all weekend between Ocean Beach and Church Street.

  • The first outbound stop will be on the northwest corner of Market and Church streets.

  • The first outbound accessible stop will be on 14th Street at Church Street.

  • From La Playa to Arguello the N buses will follow the regular N Line route.

  • East of Arguello the N service will re-route around the construction and street closure.

  • The service will run as an express between Cole and Frederick and Castro and Duboce.

  • N Owl bus service will be rerouted from Carl Street onto Frederick Street.


Project and Contact Information

Please visit the project webpage at www.sfmta.com/carl or contact 311 for service details and updates. If you have any questions or should any issues arise please contact the project team via e-mail at CarlStRail@sfmta.com.

November 8, 2011

Community Meeting Regarding Carl Street Rail Repairs set for Nov. 9th!

Many regular N owner/riders may not be aware that starting in February 2012, the SFMTA will begin significant repairs and upgrades to the N-Judah tracks that run on Carl Street from Cole Street to Arguello Street. This is a much needed repair/improvement to the line, but you can be sure that during the time of the repair work, there will be significant delays on the line once work gets started.

If you live along Carl Street, you can likely expect issues regarding parking and access, and even if you don't, this project will directly affect your day-to-day use of the N. The SFMTA is hosing a community meeting on November 9th from 6pm to 730 pm at Grattan Elementary School Auditorium, located at 165 Grattan Street San Francisco, CA, 94117, where MTA and Muni staff will be there to talk about the work, and to answer questions.

If you can't make it to the meeting on time (oh, I don't know, because the N might be delayed during rush hour commute, right?) you can also email comments about the project directly to the folks in charge of the project via this email: CarlStRail@sfmta.com. Additionally, you can contact the PR officer assigned to this project at the following email address/phone number:

Jeannette Sanchez, Public Relations Officer
Phone: 415.701.4790
Fax: 415. 701.4391
E-mail: jeannette.sanchez@sfmta.com

and, if you want to get all specific, the contact information for the project manager of the project is here:


Ha Nguyen, Project Manager
Phone: 415. 701.4296
Fax: 415.701.4208
E-mail: ha.nguyen@sfmta.com

The last meeting was held way back in July, and it's unlikely there will be another before the new year, so you might want to stop by and check it out, or at least email/phone in your questions, so there's no nasty surprises come February.

October 19, 2011

Another Hearing on N/L Turnarounds and More on October 24th!

Tune your Wayback Machine to January of this year, and recall that Supervisor Carmen Chu held a pretty hard hitting hearing on Muni's faiiures with regards to service west of 19th and in other "faraway" places (read not that far unless you're some doofus hipster/downtowner/outoftowner type that gets all cranky if something's not downtown).

Anyway, it seems Supervisor Chu has decided to do this thing called "holding people accountable" and will have another hearing on October 24th, at 10 PM, in Room 263 at City Hall. (That's this upcoming Monday). You can imagine that there will likely again be some disinfo rehab necessary to decode what's real and what's not.

If you can't make the meeting, you can always check it out on SFGOV.tv, or you can send in comments and questions to Supervisor Chu's office online as well. I'll have to likely cover it via cable tv as I'm busy that day, but just remember that the mainstream media is in full spin mode on behalf of certain people and factions within the city, so don't expect much out of them at this point.

It would be interesting to see how many Mayoral candidates showed up, that's for sure. Even more interesting - how many know what they're talking about and how many are content to say one thing in one place and say another elsewhere.

We'll see!

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 16, 2011

Is the End Truly Near for the N Judah? Let's Take a Look! UPDATED:

NJudah-postage copy.jpgNo one would debate the fact that our Mighty N is having a tough time of it these days. If you're downtown you see a conga line of Ms, Js and Ks going by while you wait forever for an N that shows up late, and is often too full to board.

Other times, you are stranded if you're going to the Outer Sunset, kicked to the curb at 19th, and you have to walk 20 blocks to get home. Between these, the traffic, delays when cars double park, and the overall decline of Muni under Nat Ford and crew, well, it's not a great time to be riding the N.

However, examining this proposal to create "express buses" for the N (PowerPoint file here) demonstrates once again that Muni would rather throw away the $3 million Transit Effectiveness Project, which laid out the plan to improve the whole system, and instead implement gimmicky "solutions" to make Muni's owners feel like something's being done, and get the owners' other employees (i.e. the electeds). Just like with plenty of Muni's other gimmicks, it is a "looks great on paper" solution.

Before we get to it, let's take a breather and remember how we got here, since it's clear Muni would like to have you forget that the State of California illegally looted hundreds of millions of dollars from it (and all transit agencies). With the various deals cut by Democrats in the Legislature and the former Governor, the gas tax no longer helps fund roads and transit like it did in the past.

Despite being illegal, that money is gone for good. There has never been a serious proposal by Nat Ford or the MTA to replace this with a new funding source. Instead they've downsized the system, and they've refused to even consider real revenue measures. Instead they want to parking ticket the city to death, and use other "couch cushion" measures. They simply are out of their league at this point. The fact that they're dreaming that "operator pay" is the only reason they have money problems just underscores the fact they don't know what they're doing.

Likewise, there's both a huge backlog of maintenance and assorted outdated work rules that are creating problems too. The fact that the MTA can't hire an out-of-work LRV operator from elsewhere to fill gaps in the workforce is significant too, as is the fact that when Muni wastes money on golden parachutes and big pay for management and big benefits, we then don't have the money to hire good people we need anyway, union rules or not.

Anyway, now that's out of the way, let's look at what is being proposed. As always I have to be a bit suspicious, since Muni's management hasn't been that honest with the public. Basically what we have here is an express bus that would serve the Outer Sunset between 19th and 48th, then use an alternate route to get downtown. They claim it would be 1 minute faster inbound and 2 minutes faster outbound. (This is the part where you can tell this was done based on a spreadsheet, and not on any real studies).

Continue reading "Is the End Truly Near for the N Judah? Let's Take a Look! UPDATED:" »

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!

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

Show Your Support Tomorrow Morning for the Parklet In Person, Or Via Petition!

parklet -3b.jpgRegular readers know that I've been one of the proposed 9th Avenue Parklet's supporters - that's no surprise. As an avid fan of Park(ing) Day, I think this project is a great idea and will be yet another improvement to our neighborhood.

Tomorrow, at 9am, there's a hearing at City Hall, Room 400 where public testimony will be presented on the project. As always, when they schedule these things early in the morning, that excludes anyone who can't have the flexiblity at work to attend (myself included). So, in light of that, you can send an email or sign an online petition indicating your support.

What's nice about this project is that it isn't going to cost the City any money, and if after it's installed, if it doesn't perform as hoped, it can always be moved to a new location (although another permit would be needed).

That's what is nice about this project - and why the handful of negative nabobs's false arguments don't hold up in light of the facts. So join in with the great majority of folks who support the project, and once it's done, I'm sure people will wonder why it didn't happen sooner (which is usually the case in these situations.)

Update: Streetsblog SF reported that the landslide of support for this project was pretty amazing. I'm not surprised, since there was so much outreach done on behalf of the project. It was telling that what little opposition there was didn't obey the rules for public comment, and had arguments so poorly articulated, they were not taken too seriously.

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.

January 19, 2011

Thanks, Scoutmob for Promoting Our Proposed Ride on Muni with Mayor Lee!

SM_email_logo(SF).pngThis week I had a unique opportunity to promote the blog and our proposed "Ride Muni with Mayor Lee" event with Scoutmob, one of the latest iterations of the "really good deal" websites. This was a chance to reach many people who perhaps haven't already seen the blog, and to promote our idea for pushing Muni issues higher up the agenda for the folks at City Hall.

There's no cash involved in this deal, it's more of a light promo kind of thing, but I figured it was a good idea, and I do like Scoutmob over some of the others. For one, they have deals in all parts of San Francisco, not just the Mission and tourist spots. For another, they've had some amazing deals right here in my part of the neighborhood, including a 50% off coupon at Pacific Catch, and others at Cha Cha Cha, Social Brewery, and more. And, unlike other such sites, I'm not getting daily emails about spa treatments and nail salon deals.

So, if you're already a Scoutmob person, note our spot in the daily newsletter this week. If you've not already checked out Scoutmob, please do so. They have apps for all the major smartphones, but even if you don't have a smartphone, you can still use the site's deals!

Anyway, check it out, and if this ride with Mayor Lee thing works out, maybe we should do it with all the candidates for mayor in 2011, or perhaps the new Supervisors. Could be a fun ongoing feature!

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 12, 2011

If You'd Like To Improve Boarding on the N at Carl and Cole, Write the SFMTA

A while back, the MTA announced some proposed improvments at Carl and Cole to improve pedestrian safety and speed up boarding. This is one of those issues I've been following, but not writing about because towards the end of last year Things That Have Nothing To Do With Blogging began to get in the way of me posting things in a timely manner, which for me is very frustrating. (Not being paid full time to do this has its drawbacks.)

Fortunately, Streetsblog SF was on the case, and reports that after some tinkering to alleviate neighbor concerns, a plan is to be voted on next Tuesday by the MTA Board. If you take a look at the proposal, there's nothing radical about it, and it would help safety and improve boarding times at one of the busier stops (inbound and outbound).

Yes, a few parking spots will be lost. But let's be realistic - losing 3 spots is not going to end anyone's business - this is already an area with very little parking to begin with. It is foolish to think that every single patron of every business is driving, parking a block from the business area, and patronizing the businesses. Just the patrons of the Kezar Bar and Restaurant would take up all the parking, and there'd be spillover all over the place. And yet, despite these and other realities, there's a few busybodies who would rather endanger others and decrease efficiency for the entire line, based on nothing more than rhetoric and "beliefs."

I wouldn't be behind this if after all the research and reading I've done I thought it would do nothing, or worse, be something that would damage a neighborhood I very much like and whose businesses I patronize and damage the N as a whole. That's why I urge folks to email the MTA board, and ask them to try and do the right thing in this case, and continue the ongoing commitment to safety for pedestrians and owner/riders on the N, as they have done on Irving St.

January 11, 2011

An Open Invitation To Mayor Ed Lee: Let's Take A Ride on Muni! (UPDATED)

January 11, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Mayor Lee:

Congratulations on becoming the new Mayor of San Francisco! You bring decades of public service and hard work on behalf of the people of San Francisco to office, and although the challenges the City faces in 2011 are difficult, I am sure that as many have said on your behalf, you'll work to do what's best for all of San Francisco.

Muni and the SFMTA aren't just political footballs to be kicked around, the way some have done in the past. Instead, it is a transit system and agency that was established with the unique prospect that transit agencies should be run on behalf of those that own it - in this case the people of San Francisco. Thus, Muni's unique in that it has literally hundreds of thousands of "owners" who ride the system daily.

Running a system for such a diverse group of owners isn't easy - but it is also a necessity. It is also an agency with severe, systemic problems that can't be solved overnight.

Therefore, I am extending an invitation to you, as our new Mayor, to carve some time out of your busy schedule to come ride the N-Judah with myself and other transit/urban life bloggers.

However, while we'd be honored with the privilege of speaking with you, I would prefer most of all that you ride with and listen to the people of San Francisco who rely on Muni to go to work, attend school, take care of their families, and enjoy living in the greatest city in America.

I think if we spent some quality time up and down the line, you'd get a chance to hear people's stories about Muni's successes, its failures, and the hope in all of Muni's owner/riders that City Hall can put aside politics and make a functional Muni something everyone can be proud of. Who knows? Perhaps if this works out, we could have a "Mayor on Muni" in other parts of San Francisco too!

Sincerely,

Greg Dewar
The N Judah Chronicles

PS: I noticed this afternoon you've invited China's President, Hu Jintao, for a visit to San Francisco sometime this year. May I humbly suggest that perhaps all of us- you, me, the President, and assorted friends of a great transit system all take a ride together, if possible? It would be a way to showcase the many diverse neighborhoods that the N-Judah line serves, and a chance to showcase our city to the world in a way that's never been done before.

As always, email me and let me know. Thanks!

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.

January 6, 2011

UPDATED: Supervisor Carmen Chu to Hold Hearing on Unannounced Turnarounds on the N-Judah and L-Taraval Lines Monday, Jan. 10th!

Yes, you read that right. Supervisor Carmen Chu is holding a hearing as chair of the Board's City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee to ask the perennial question all riders of the N-Judah and the L-Taraval ask - why the frak does Muni insist on dumping people out at 19th Avenue outbound with no prior warning?

The hearing will be held on Monday, January 10th at 10:30am in Room 250 in City Hall. Because it's during working hours, many people are likely to not be able to attend (I will try but I may have a conference call for work at the same time). Naturally, SFMTA boss Nathaniel Ford won't be there, but John Haley, Director of Transit, will be, to listen and get a talking to from the supervisors.

Now, let's be clear, this issue has been talked about for a long time, and so far, every time we get the MTA bosses to make promises, and nothing happens. For fun shall we review a few past posts?

2007: Reader Mail from Eve Batey (then of the Chronicle, now of the SF Appeal) , Reader Mail from N Rider Jeff, Follow Up to Jeff's Complaint, How a Bad N Judah Line Hurts the Poor, Yet Another Reader Mail complaint, Big Promises Made to Assemblymember Fiona Ma and the Sunset District Neighborhood Coalition (via Reader Mail), More Big Promises Broadcast In the Press

2008: After All Those Promises of Firings, The Turnarounds Continue, And Continue

2009: Reader Warren's Complaints about the Same Operator Doing Turnarounds

You get the idea. This doesn't even include the bazillions of Tweets made by frustrated commuters over the years.

Now, telling tales of how this kind of unreliability is a royal pain in the ass is important, so that perhaps someone at the MTA or Muni might have a Grinch-like heart-growing experience and decide to do something for a change. It goes almost without saying how traumatic this kind of unreliability is for seniors or the disabled living on the west side - but let's face it everyone relying on Muni on the westside is screwed in one way or another and it's unacceptable, period.

Just as important, however, is demanding very specific dates and promises of what will be done to fix the problem once and for all, and what the MTA and Muni need to do so.

Recall that in 2006 at a town hall meeting, Nathaniel Ford made promises to fix the 9th/Irving & 9th/Judah signaling problems that were endangering people. Soon afterward, in 2007, the MTA quietly backed off their promises. It wasn't until a woman had her legs cut off by a train in 2008 that the SFCTA stepped in to pick up the slack and build a system to try and prevent this.

Because the timing of this meeting means you may not be able to attend, I would urge you to please email Supervisor Chu (and CC your own supervisor if you don't live in District 4 since these kinds of FAILs can affect people on all Metro lines) and describe in brief how these turnarounds affect you, and demand that the MTA commit to producing an action plan with specifics. You should also CC your comments to the SFMTA, and/or hit them on Twitter at @sfmta_muni now, and every time they screw up, in the hopes they might one day listen.

There's no magical solution to all of this, but it's time the MTA and Muni be told what to do by the owner/riders, and demand specifics as to what they will do (not plan to do) to fix them. We've talked too much about this already - playtime is over, it's a new year, and it's time to do something.

January 1, 2011

Muni 2011: Same Old, Same Old, Or A New Hope?

Let's face facts, 2010 sucked. Well not completely, because the Giants won the World Series, and a few other good things, but overall things kinda sucked. The economy continued to suck. San Francisco's carnival of lost souls known at City Hall continued to suck. And Muni? Do I even have to go there?

Despite that, I actually have a small bit of hope that things might not be as bad as they could be. Small, minuscule, nano-sized hope, but hope nonetheless. But first, a quick review of 2010 is in order.

Three things characterized Muni's ongoing drama this year: the cynical manipulations of a so=called "Green Clean" Mayor (and the overpaid leadership known as Nathaniel Ford), the ongoing fetish of Soon To Be Ex-Governor "Climate Change" Schwarzenegger and his Democrat allies to defund all transit with shell games, and the treatment of Muni as a political football by So-Called Progressives.

Re-reading the 2010 archives, it's clear that all the hype and PR shenanigans about being "green and clean" by Ex Mayor Newsom didn't match up with his policies in San Francisco, especially when it came to living up to that "transit first" thing everyone says.

Continue reading "Muni 2011: Same Old, Same Old, Or A New Hope? " »

December 12, 2010

O RLY? The Annual Promise to Keep the N From Stopping at 19th And Turning Around...

One of the emptiest promises Muni management and San Francisco politicians can make to those who ride the N-Judah is the golden one known as "we'll finally stop those trains from dumping everyone at 19th and turn around."

This week the Muni PR machine was in full spin mode, with a "report" (because after all, paying someone big cash to write a "report" solves all problems) that Something Would be Done About It. You can read coverage at the SF Weekly, the Examiner, and a short rundown at our nieghbor blog Ocean Beach Bulletin.

Now, to be fair, they're not really promising it will stop doing this, they instead claim they'll tell you in advance (ha!) an advise you of "other buses" you can take if your N dumps you at 19th and you live in the Outer Sunset. In other words, doing what a normal, professionally run agency would have done (aside from that whole "do the job you're paid to do" thing in the first place).

Let's not forget that we hear these promises all the time. This is one of the most common complaints, and you can do a quick search of the archives and find Reader Mail detailing said problems for years, and likewise the empty promises and press conferences that sound wonderful, but do nothing.

I also have to wonder what "buses" one would take to get to Judah and La Playa after being dumped at 19th? Anyone? Worse, how does that work out for those that need disabled access, or for seniors? As usual, the bean counters and bigwigs at Muni have no idea how much of a problem this causes, because they simply do not ride Muni on a regular basis.

As always, just like the Newsom/Chiu Big Committee on Muni, these fools at City Hall and at Muni miss the point. You can make all the promises you like, but if you simply don't pay for the maintenance needed to keep the fleet running, have a labor force that's dependable and ready to work every day, and keep on raiding the Muni budget at the local level (not to mention state cuts), inevitably you simply do not have the fleet needed to serve Muni's' owner/riders at the level needed to serve the public that pays for the service.

The N's performance has been slipping as of late to begin with, but this "news" isn't really news to people who rely on Muni to get around town. The real news is that once again the media is taken in by this PR nonsense, and can't even read their own archives to be a little more skeptical of Muni's promises.

October 6, 2010

Another Accident at 8th and Irving...And It Wasn't Muni's Fault (again)

carfail.JPGSo there I was, at home reading email when suddenly I heard a loud WHAM! the sound of a car hitting something. I looked out the window and lo and behold, a car crossing Irving at 8th had been hit by a Muni train. This isn't the first time this happened - just about a month or two ago the same thing happened. Car tries to cross street, doesn't pay attention, Muni train hits car, car loses. No one was hurt, fortunately, but the resulting delays on the N, the 44, and traffic on the side streets was rather messy.

To be honest, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often, not because of any problems on Muni's end (in this case, like the other one, the auto was driving in the intersection without paying attention to the traffic), since I see so many near misses. It's as if people driving in cars in SF don't seem to understand basic rules of the road, the concept of a right of way, or the laws of physics. Expecting a multi-ton train to stop on a dime falls somewhere between being dumb and living in Fantasyland.

Even with the traffic calming program which is showing some results, no amount of signage or infrastructure can truly prevent the actions of a driver who's driving around in a fog, not paying attention. And while I cringe at calling cars "death machines," in this case, one bad driver blocked up all traffic in the Inner Sunset at mid day, with repercussions for many others, so perhaps "time and transportation

I often wonder what it would be like if perhaps we had a system of training people how to drive in urban and suburban environments, teach people rules of the road, and then we could perhaps certify them with some sort of documentation that would indicate that person is fit to drive. I realize this will enrage the "tea party" crowd and San Francisco "progressives", but it would seem to be necessary, especially in light of the many accidents and dangerous conditions caused by people who literally do not know how to operate a vehicle.

For now, if you must drive north-south on 8th Avenue at Irving (or similar intersections) , just be sure to look carefully before crossing. You'll be glad you did!

September 1, 2010

Reader Mail: Cryptic Talk of an "Intentional Slowing of Service on Route 1"

questionmark.jpgEarlier today I got two Reader Mails that have to be the oddest things I've heard in a while from people during their morning commute. Read and be prepared to be bewildered. First email is from Reader Margaret:
Hey there, This morning on the N Judah heading downtown, around 8:20am right around the Chruch and Duboce stop, our female driver made an annoucement along these lines (forgive me as I don't remember the specifics): "To my regular riders, they're intentionally trying to slow down service on this Route, Route 1. The management knows about it. If you want to see it fixed, call the media and have them investigate." Have you heard anything about this? Thanks!

And, here's an email from Reader Shari, also on the same train, it seems:

Hi Mr. Dewar,

As a resident of the Outer Sunset I do enjoy your MUNI updates. Today I was taking the N to Civic Center, as I do four days a week, and I got stuck with a driver who is regularly slow and runs late. Today, as we got to Duboce and Noe, she announced that the reason we were having to stop for extended periods involved something called "Run One." She said that it involved intentionally sending more people onto that particular train and slowing it down. She also stated that the media and MUNI were aware of what was going on and that patrons could discover the meaning behind this by seeking out these sources. She said nothing else on the topic.

I've searched online and found nothing. I don't know if she was just acting crazy or if something was going on, but I would like to find out as it made me 10 minutes late to an important law school class and if someone was behind it, I want to know who it was and why they did it.

I figured you might be someone who could confirm or deny the truth of the driver's statement. I'd really appreciate your insight.

Given how the MTA has made swiss cheese out of the Transit Effectiveness Project by half-assedly implementing cuts (but not the associated service increases) and whatnot over the past few years, you could almost imagine some genius that could come up with an idea like this, but that is supposition, not a fact. Without any supporting documentation, we don't know what to make of this cryptic statement via the PA system.

I did a little searching and found nothing either. So, I'm going to attempt to contact Muni on Thursday morning and see if I can get a response. Considering that I never got any of my questions about the bus shelters answered, this may require me to use the amplification of the SF Gate Transit Blog to get some attention.

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.

May 20, 2010

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

0520000907.jpg
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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.

April 16, 2010

Happiness (Foursquare Day) and Sadness (N Judah Delays ) on A Friday...

NJudah-postage copy.jpgThis morning was one of those mornings I woke up early, turned on the computer and suddenly got a zillion messages about today's Sunset Tunnel disaster. My first impulse was to turn off the computer, and literally run out of town when these things happen, just because it's so depressing. If ever you wonder why it is that folks literally celebrated that tunnel as a "God-send," taking the shuttle downtown would remind you why.

There are several reports that the reason the wires were collapsed was because someone decided to steal copper wiring, and thought that stealing it from you was a good idea. I'm still trying to verify this, but I've now heard it twice from 2 sources, and from the accounts of the damage, that would be about right. But I'll still try and find out for sure.

However, some happiness to brighten what looks to be a nice Friday, weather-wise. As you may or may not know, today is Foursquare Day, the first sort-of-holiday for a mobile app. What this means is many places are doing specials on drinks, food, etc. You can find a list of San Francisco events here, most notable are the ones at Pacific Catch in the Marina and in the Inner Sunset, who are attempting to get the "Swarm" badge for all who participate. There's also one at the Ferry Buliding too.

Also, don't forget that tomorrow is Dogfest 2010! Whether you have a dog or just think dogs are awesome, this event, which is a benefit for McKinley Elementary School, is always a fun springtime event and proceeds go to a nice cause. Check it out!

As always, why not celebrate the N's fails with a FailWhale N Judah Shirt, or any one of our offerings. Be the best dressed person on the shuttle bus!

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 6, 2010

You Turn Off the Internets For A Few Hours, and Suddenly There's a Sinkhole On the N?

YIKES!

I turned off The Internet for the evening on Friday to enjoy the beginning of Strong Beer Week at 21st Amendment, and after a few hours looked on Twitter only to find out there's a big sinkhole under the tracks on the N Judah. WTF? Fortunately the SF Appeal was on the case while I took a few hours off from blogging.

This is a particularly bad time for something like this to happen - they're going to have to conduct this repair when they were supposed to be finishing off the L-Taraval upgrades (which were delayed due to rainy weather). And, there is going to be some real pain and suffering on Monday, and for the forseeable future as they round up buses to pick up the slack for the broken train tracks. One can only imagine just how difficult that's going to be, and I don't forsee this getting fixed any time soon.

This all comes right after an announcement that Mun drivers, who have been getting the crap kicked out of them as they've been singled out as The Only Reason Muni Has Problems, are agreeing to some concessions that will reduce service cuts. Hmm.

While I've been no fan of TWU (hey read the archives), the endless amount of driver-baiting (while ignoring the big pay of management and SEIU employees, or the "work orders" and state looting of Muni) isn't exactly helping now that we're going to need more people driving buses on the affected portion of the N for at least 2 weeks. However, I'd suggest this - Muni operators can show San Francisco they're here for us in a time of crisis by knocking off with the "don't show up to work unannounced" BS, and step up and help those living in the affected area get to work at a reasonable time. That action would speak louder than a 1000 words out of a politician or union boss's mouth, and I think we'd all appreciate it.

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

Sigh...ANOTHER Incident On the N...Gavin, MTA, Do You Even Give a Frak? UPDATE!

At about 2:40pm this afternoon there was an incident involving a pedestrian and an N Judah streetcar at 9th and Judah. Details were vague, although the pedestrian was transported to SF General with non-life threatening injuries. Coverage of the event can also be found at SF Appeal.com and CBS5

Although I did pick up on some information, because I didn't get it officially "on the record" and the head Muni guys on the scene couldn't talk for legal reasons, so I couldn't conduct an interview on the scene like I'd hoped. So following journalistic ethics, I'm not going to transcribe what I overheard, since that would not be a good thing to do.

One thing I do notice people do often is cross against red "don't walk" signals with a green light, because it's not entirely clear by the signage that one should hold off on walking until they get the actual "walk" signal. The signs are a little bit small, and not like the ones in Chinatown which are clearer and at eye level.

I will say that the number of "near misses" and accidents has gone down, but it's never cool when anyone gets hurt, for any reason at all, and I hope the person who fell down is ok and isn't hurt too bad.

Complete set of photos are here.

UPDATE: As I had suspected from looking at the scene, the train never touched the pedestrian at all. In fact the pedestrian had fallen down, and the train stopped so as to avoid hitting the person. Read all about it at the SF Appeal link at the top of the page.


December 1, 2009

Muni Stabbing Suspect Captured by SFPD on the N Judah

Well if you haven't heard on The Twitter or elsewhere, word via SF Appeal is that the stabbing suspect from yesterday was captured on the N Judah today. The Examiner has also confirmed the story and SFist has more links to coverage also.

Let's be glad no one was stabbed on the N Judah, and that yesterday's victim also makes a full recovery, as well as anyone who's been injured due to Muni crime. We've got a long way to go before this problem goes away, so let's keep the employees accountable.

And those who make jokes about Muni safety (aka "Football Bat" Daly) need to STFU.

UPDATE: Speaking of "Football Bats," Mayor Newsom just issued a press release. Whee.

Hey, Gavin, maybe if you'd cared about this, no one woulda been stabbed in the first place!

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....)

November 5, 2009

The N Judah Gets Its Wisdom Teeth Out: Service Disruptions Coming This Month

Just like when one gets necessary, but painful, dental work, the N Judah line has some necessary, but painful surgery coming up this month. On the weekends of November 13th + 20th, and December 4th, the N will be getting rail replacement done between 19th and Sunset Boulevard. For every weekend that the rail replacement is in effect, service will stop at Church and Duboce at 8pm, and buses will run to the end of the line at La Playa. This will be in effect until the following Monday at 4am.

Needless to say, this isn't a lot of fun, either for riders or for anyone along the line. It is, however, necessary maintenance and the best thing to do is plan ahead. In particular, no cars will be allowed on Judah St. either.

There is also some planned pedestrian improvements coming to 19th and Judah, but as of the time I publish this, I haven't found out when that is. The Sunset Beacon had a front page story that detailed the plan, except for the actual date of WHEN that will happen. (That is part of a separate project to improve pedestrian access at Judah, Taraval, and Sloat along 19th Avenue).

You can read all the details at the SFMTA website, and if you live in the affected area, you may want to give them a call at the number listed below so you can plan your weekends around all of this. Hopefully it'll get done on time and we can then move forward and deal with the cuts to service that will come just a day after this project is planned to be complete.

October 9, 2009

Talking About Muni Safety and Crime with Sup. Chu, the SFMTA, the SFPD and More!

3996792070_0bf64ae05b.jpgThere's no denying that Muni safety and crime are of concern to citizens right now. What with the much-publicized fight on YouTube, the gang-related incident that sent a young person to the hospital on Monday, and the many other incidents we've had lately, people are getting worried. A quick survey of the archives here bears this out. So what's anyone doing about it?

Today we had a few steps in the right direction. Rather than take the cynic's view of "oh f*ck this nothing works Muni sucks blah blah blah" (which never accomplished anything, as far as I can tell), I've decided that we take the SFMTA, the SFPD and Sup. Chu at their word and simply keep a vigilant eye on events as they unfold.

The first part of the press conference (pictures are here) was devoted to LRV passenger safety, with a focus on the N-Judah and Taraval lines. Loyal Readers will recall that a recent incident involving a passenger struck by a car while de-boarding the N sparked a rather spirited discussion here last month.

Sup. Chu's office, working with the SFMTA, came up with a partial plan to increase driver awareness with the yellow stickers (pictured at right) which remind drivers that they need to yield to people de-boarding the train. Sup. Chu talked about her own experience with "near misses" on the L and the number of complaints she'd received from people on this issue. Sam Lau, depty COO of the SFMTA, pointed out that existing signage is off to the right, and that these eye-level signs for drivers on the train itself were designed to increase awareness of the law. However, it was also stressed that passengers need to be careful and be aware of their surroundings when leaving the train, also.

Continue reading "Talking About Muni Safety and Crime with Sup. Chu, the SFMTA, the SFPD and More!" »

September 28, 2009

Ouch! N Judah Rider Hit By Car While Exiting Train....

Because I set my phone to "silent mode" I missed a call from Reader Jennifer, who spotted this accident, which involved a car hitting a passenger departing an N Judah train last night. Fortunately the injured party has no life threatening injuries and is recovering at a nearby hospital.

However, this incident illustrates one of the biggest hazards of riding the N, or any public transportation - the hazards of de-boarding when you're basically being dropped off in traffic. I've had more near-misses and seen too many accidents at 9th and Irving, usually caused by drivers who are driving too fast down Irving and apparently can't wait the few minutes for people to leave the train and have to run over people, just so they can run over MORE people at the crosswalk.

It makes me wonder just how stupid one has to be to get a driver's license in this state anymore. When I was a car-commuter, it would never occur to me to try and clip people walking across the street, no matter how many angry horn honks I got for not taking a right on red. My attitude was that it was my car, and my safety on the line, and I wasn't going to risk killing civilians just so Mr. Horn Honker can make his turn 2 minutes faster.

Likewise, I've seen so many people who apparently don't know the rules on left turns, again, especially at busy intersections like 9th and Irving, I have begun to wonder if they're going to have to ban left turns entirely at the intersection. People making left turns don't seem to understand that they have to yield to oncoming traffic first, then make their turn. Instead they cause traffic jams trying to make turns and cut off oncoming traffic. This is good for no one: drivers or walkers or bikers.

It'd be nice if we had some system whereby people could learn how to driver smarter, and then perhaps have a state agency that had the task to issue some sort of certificate, or license, that would be earned through a test of some sort. As driving is a privilege and not a right, you'd think that maybe, just maybe, we could have a way to better educate people on how to drive. (I'm still amazed at how STUPID some people are when it comes to finding parking - I used to own a car that was tough to fit into SF parking spots, and I found a legal space most of the time.)

I know it's crazy and I'm sure the loud angries in our midst would freak out if we ever did such a thing, but watching how clueless drivers can be, I have to wonder if it's better than having lots of accidents and seeing auto insurance premiums go up. Couldn't hurt.

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....

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 4, 2009

Do We Need to Bring Back The Vigilance Committee? - The "MUNI Humper" is on the N

200px-Committee_of_Vigilance_medallion.jpgFrom our friends at MUNI Diaries, and even NBC11 come reports of some weirdo who apparently has decided that the way to behave on a crowded N Judah train is to push his, ahem, privates on unsuspecting passengers, mostly women.

This isn't the first time that some weirdo has pulled this on the N, for sure, but it's one that has really rattled a lot of folks. Just the other day someone I was talking to at the N stop relayed her horror story. I really don't care what this clown's "problems" are, this kind of behavior is crap, and it needs to stop.

You'd think with the millions and millions of dollars MUNI has handed over to the SFPD via the Mayor's office, we'd have some police presence on MUNI to deter some of this, or at least be around so when some Concerned Citizens corner this guy and get ready to kick his ass, they can show up. But this is San Francisco, and we all know what'll happen if we wait around for someone to show up - our Precious Dear will run away and do it again and again and again.

Maybe we need to bring back the Committe of Vigilance or something to enforce some behavoir modification on MUNI. After all, when you see douchebags like this on the bus, and no one's around to enforce the law, maybe some citizen-administered punishment would get 'em to stop harassing us when we're out and about on MUNI.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

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?


April 30, 2009

Reader Mail: More Unannounced Turnarounds on The N....

A bit belated, for sure, but too important to leave behind: Reader Warren wrote in earlier this week about unannounced turnarounds on the N, and CC'd a complaint he'd filed with MUNI. You'll recall that amidsta lot of hoopla we were told this wasn't going to happen anymore, but that didn't last long.

I urge you to read Reader Warren's complaint in full, because he followed it up with another email to me late tonight detailing yet another incident...by the same operator.

I'm documenting it here so it gets found by The Google and others and it becomes part of the permanent record of MUNI. Given that the mayoral-appointed MTA board has just voted to start the downward spiral of MUNI again, I figure this is a preview of coming attractions from our friends at the MTA.

Click through to see both letters, in their entirety. Now, wouldn't it be awesome if MUNI or someone acted on all of this? It would be. Doubtful anything will happen, but hey, documenting is the first part of the process...

Continue reading "Reader Mail: More Unannounced Turnarounds on The N...." »

April 15, 2009

Some Fun Events This Weekend: A Dogfest, A Picnic, and A Fix It Day! (UPDATED)

This weekend the wind is supposed to die down and the weather is supposed to warm up a bit. As you plan for what could be some nice springtime weather, check out a few events right here along the N Judah line:

-The Inner Sunset Facebook Group, which has attracted quite a following and has been holding many well-attended events, is planning a picnic this Saturday, April 18th from 10:30-1pm over at the White Crane Springs Community Garden.

-The House Formerly Known as the "Yes We Can" House on Irving and 6th is hosting a "Free Fix It Day", also on Saturday from 10-4pm, in their spacious backyard. As their flyer says "We'll try to fix anything except electronics & relationships ... for free. Bring your wobbly, loose, broken, frayed, splintered, torn, severed item. If we can't fix it, we'll give you twice your money back. Handy volunteers welcome."

-"DogFest 2009" will also be held on Saturday, from 11-3pm at Duboce Park as a benefit fundraiser for McKinley Elementary School. There will be a dog contest with categories created by the students, and a whole array of activities that should be fun for dog lovers and their friends.

All of these events are sort of happening at the same time, but they're all easily accessible by the N, so you can easily check 'em all out!

UPDATE: TwitterNeighbor Laurel has this new blog which highlights events of interest which you should check out as well. The Acme Steakhouse happy hour sounds like quite a bargain!

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 6, 2009

Return to San Francisco and Budget Armageddon...Make Your Voice Heard Now!

I'm back! After a whirlwind tour of Washington DC, New York City (by way of bullet train) and some of the finest layover airports in America, I'm back. While I was able to sort of keep up on The Twitter with many of you and all, consistent Internet access was a hassle, and I wasn't able to post like I wanted. But thanks to the awesome guest bloggers, the site did not go stale. (BTW, there will be plenty of opportunities to guest blog for the site soon so feel free to apply now for a future gig).

Because AT&T fouled up my new home's internet connection, I'm writing this quick post now at a Starbuck's on Irving, mostly to do a quick hit on the impending MUNI budget FAIL we're facing right now.

I've been reading some of the proposals, and they all seem to fall into the "evil or stupid" categories. It's very clear that the SFMTA really doesn't have a clear idea of what they're doing, and are just running the numbers without really thinking about how to maintain the system in a time of economic troubles. Getting rid of N Judah service on weekends to the waterfront? WTF? It was a disaster when they tried it before - who in their right mind would think this is a good idea, especially now that it's baseball season? Ugh.

Nowhere have they even bothered to come up with new, stable revenue sources. Nor do they seem to have any real plan to improve collecting the money they're already owed. They're getting federal stimulus money to build ticket machines, for example, but aren't going to have the people to service them. And there's no talk of giving up the billion-dollar Subway To Nowhere either, or its pricey contract steered to ex-MUNI employees.

And again, we don't see anyone holding Mayor Gavin Newsom (who authorized the illegal looting of the 2007 Measure A money to fill the pockets of city bureaucrats), Green Governor Arnie, and Democrats in the Legislature (who voted to kill MUNI funding every year for 5 years, and cut all transit funding entirely from the bloated state budget) accountable for their role in crippling MUNI - all while wearing green ties and talking happy green talk to a willing audience on the road (usually via SUV).

I'm working on a more detailed article that I'll post once the dust settles from my (busy) trip out east. For now, I wanted to post a link to Jaime Whitaker's blog post at the Examiner, which has the times, dates and places for tomorrow's Armageddon meeting, and other meetings as well. | | Comments (0)

March 12, 2009

Twitteratti Report: Major N Judah Failwhale In Progress

Thanks to Twitter, I've been getting reports of a pretty major MUNI Metro FAIL in progress...@agentnano retweeted a report from @jonsnyder about a stuck N Judah train about 30 minutes ago. Loyal reader @rowenoftc also posted this twitpic of the failwhale bus as well.

So far, there's been nothing throughout this interruption on the official MUNI "TroubleAlert" as yet, and no news aside from what the Twitteratti are reporting. If you're out there and see something, either today, or any day, that might be worth re-tweeting, find me on Twitter at @njudah !

UPDATE: The TroubleAlert just chimed in with some basic info...just expect a lot of delays today. Eric from Transbay Blog just twittered a delay he encountered as well.

Hey, if you're stuck on MUNI and have Twitter, why not twitter your tale of woe, and then direct message one to @gavinnewsom too? Maybe he can help?

UPDATE 2: The SF Appeal did some follow up to the drama that's worth checking out.

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 9, 2009

Victim of Sunday MUNI Accident Identified

As some of you may or may not know, there was an accident involving the N near 2nd and King Street. However, until this morning, as I was going through my mail, did I know who the person was or how they were doing.

Both Reader Allan (he of the awesome Mission Mission blog) and Reader Brian sent in this link and this one indicating that the person injured was in fact Bill Brand, a well known reporter for the Tribune and now a popular writer on beer-related issues with his column "What's on Tap" and wrote for the BottomsUp blog. Word is he's in critical condition.

I can't even imagine how horrific this must have been, and we should all send prayers and good energy his way so he makes it through this. These kinds of stories are just sad.

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 28, 2009

Accident in Progress on N Judah at 10th and Judah

I was wondering why the N outbound was indicating such a long delay, and now I just heard the news helicopters and got several messages..it seems that there's been a serious accident on the N Judah line on 10th and Judah...I am about to leave for an event but will take some pics...follow me on Twitter for updates...hopefully no one was hurt.photo.jpg

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 26, 2009

WWJRD? (What Would Jim Rolph Do?) - Spring N Judah Pub Crawl

For some time now we'd been kicking around the idea of an N Judah Pub Crawl, but it wasn't until Loyal Reader Carla offered a few weeks ago to assist with the preparations (she has Jedi level event planning skills) that I was able to really do it right.

Right now we've tentatively planned it for just after Tax Time in April, when the weather is nice and we won't conflict with too many events. While I've got a few places in mind, I'd be interested in hearing suggestions from you as to places you'd like to see featured. And of course we'll feature a commemorative T shirt designed by Mason Powell, to celebrate. Post your suggestions in the comments or feel free to drop me an email!

It may seem like a long way out, but my experience with events (as well as other things I'm doing for work) made it clear if I didn't give it some lead time, it wouldn't come off with the kind of fun and flair an NJC event should have!

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!

December 9, 2008

Reader Mail: Was There An Accident on The N Last Night? UPDATED!

A Loyal Reader who wishes to remain anonymous sent an email this morning about an accident on the N...did anyone else see this? I was safely elsewhere so I didn't hear of it, so any other "eyewitness" news accounts would be good, as it sounds like a rather scary incident:

Hey there. I was wondering if you'd gotten any good reports on the incident near the Duboce Park tunnel last night. I was riding outbound last night (Tuesday) around 7:30, and just before we were about to enter the tunnel (the one right before Carl/Cole) people started screaming that a woman was trapped and to call 911. I hopped off the train when I heard the ambulance sirens. It looked like a woman had gotten trapped in the doors and dragged, and maybe dragged into the edge of the tunnel. I don't know.

There was a crowd of people around her when I hopped off the train, so I couldn't really see. Don't know if she was seriously hurt or if it was no big deal, but I couldn't find anything about it today on SFGate or SFist or anywhere. Seems like someone should be reporting on the manslaughtering N.

The only MUNI strangeness I noted last night was that apparently the GPS system went down, as I tried to find out when a 44 bus was coming on NextMUNI and it had "no current prediction" up and down the line. Even though other lines seemed to have NextMUNI, the spokesbot at 311 kept repeating "THE GPS IS DOWN THE GPS IS DOWN" even when I happpened to mention it appeared other lines were fine....

UPDATE Reader Eugene posted a comment on Facebook and provided it again for us here:

Yes, there was an accident. I was on the second train and did not see anything that happened. I heard someone in the crowd say a dog was hit. Given the off leash pet park next to the n-judah stop, it's not surprising. I tried to take a picture, but it was too dark for for my cell phone camera. I counted one white muni pickup truck, one fire engine, one police car and one ambulance responded. No announcement from the operator on the train on what happened. I waited for about 10+ minutes, luckily the doors were left open and walked up to Haight St., to try to catch the 71, 7, or 6. When I got off the N-Judah, there were three (double trains) waiting to go through the tunnel to get to Carl and Cole. So that's my observation in a large nutshell.

And, Reader Jason provides another observation:

I was on the muni last night when it stopped @park/duboce. They didn't really say anything, but I saw all the sirens/saw some cops.

When I got off @carl/cole, I heard a woman saying that she saw someone trapped in chains of some sort, but don't have any firsthand accounts except that we did stop for quite some time.

I'll have to poke around next time.

Any way you put this, it sounds sad. Let's hope everyone's ok and all.

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!

Tonight! MUNI Town Hall Meeting with Sup. Mirkarimi and MTA Director Nate Ford!

This week has been quite a week for all things transit talk. First, we had Our Mayor go all Fidel Castro on us with a 7 1/2 hour speech on YouTube, which included this 41 minute piece on transportation issues. At the suggestion of a reporter from the Examiner, I watched it and it was kinda boring, with the usual "yeah things are not perfect but yeah things are great" spin you get out of City Hall.

What was most glaring, however, was absolutely no mention of the tens of millions of dollars in cuts MUNI has been getting clobbered with year after year from the State of California, and how we're ever going to pay for all these wonderful things Our Mayor talks about in his speech. Still, if you've got the time, check it out.

Also, tonight, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is hosting another MUNI town hall meeting at 7pm over at the SF County Fair Building, conveniently located at 9th and Lincoln.

Given all that's going on, from changes to MUNI courtesy of the Transit Effectiveness Project, to budget cuts, to anything else you might have on your mind, it's worth attending. Mirkarimi's past MUNI meetings have actually been somewhat effective - allowing as many questions to be asked "live" with the rest being answered in writing last time around was a nice touch. So if you can, stop by and make your voice heard.

The SF County Building is conveniently located near many bus and train lines, including the N Judah, the 71, the 44, and the 6 and 43 (2 blocks over on Judah Street.).

November 29, 2008

Don't Forget! MUNI Town Hall Meeting December 3rd!

I'm busy working on the N Judah Chronicles Holiday Shopping Guide this weekend, but in the meantime, I wanted to do some promo for the MUNI Town Hall Meeting on December 3rd at the SF County Fair Building at 9th and Lincoln.

There is the cynic's line that these things are showboaty silliness, but if you attend and ask good questions, you can put some folks on the spot and at least get their remarks "on the record" so we can measure future developments against current promises.

To his credit, Sup. Mirkarimi's past efforts with events like these haven't been BS, and it was because of promises made at one of these we were able to push for the signal improvements at 9th / Irving and 9th / Judah.

These things only work if we all take them seriously. It is easy for us all to complain, but here's at chance to at least force the Powers That Be to pay attention, and if nothing else, politely remind them that MUNI is not an abstract of statistics, budgets and bureaucracy, it's something that affects everyone in the City, even if they don't use it themselves every day.

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!

November 11, 2008

Are We In The Midst of A Slow Meltdown Of the N? Maybe!

Nothing is perfect, but as of late our Mighty N has become the Mighty FAIL, more often that usual. Obviously there are many reasons for many failures, but the frequency, and timing is becoming an issue.

Most recently, Reader Joseph (who writes the awesome MUNI Grouch Blog) had a rather disastrous night on the way home, when the N Judah operator decided, without warning to stop at Arguello Street and unceremoniously dump everyone off without a word, late at night.

You can read his entire email to the SF Chronicle and MUNI here at his blog but I thought I'd post an excerpt, since he notes (as we have) that it was not long ago we were promised by Many Important People that operators who did this would face The Consequences:

Dear Ms. Gordon,

If you recall your article of August 6:

Muni operators who shorten runs given warning

I was on an outbound N Judah last night (Nov 10) that made a short turn at Arguello, and it was *25 MINUTES* before another train arrived to pick up my fellow passengers on me. We were left IN THE DARK LATE AT NIGHT ON THE SIDEWALK FOR A HALF HOUR by the operator who said he was "ordered to" do this by control. This is probably complete bullshit; if it isn't then someone in control is equally responsible for this inexcusable action - and the operator should have ignored the instruction anyway. The train was labeled "Ocean Beach" when I boarded it at 4th & King and the roller did not change to Arguello until the operator exited the Market St. subway.

There were plenty of trains returning inbound (no shortage, in fact one passed us while the operator was switching back), and few outbound trains, so this train was needed outbound. Ahead of us some outbound passengers would have been waiting over 30 minutes for a train.

This is totally, spectacularly inexcusable and is the kind of unnecessary stupidity and callousness that creates such a negative perception of Muni customer service - when in reality it is only a small percentage of operators and managers who are responsible.

Now, sure, things happen and all, but it is a bit much when the operator can't use that magic microphone to TELL PEOPLE THIS before dumping them off. Is it so hard to use ancient technology to simply communicate? Anyone who's been on a train with a mumbled announcement can answer that one.

However, this is not the only tale of woe I've received. Reader Karolyn wrote in the other day:

Monday, November 10th I truly wonder what it takes to get good service on the N line? All last week it was the same no trains at 7am going in bound and the next train crowed #1412B with the driver who continually thinks every thought she has must be shared with a crowed in train. You must stand 150 feet away from my window. Ummm your going forwarded what are your worried about. And she will give this unsolicted information for the whole sweaty ride.

BUT this morning a Monday morning the sign at 7th and Irving said train in 4 minutes, then 5 then 3 then arriving. One minute later the train turns off 9th to Irving stops at 8th (there is no stop sign) then continues past the 10 or so people who need to be in their office by 7:30! Then waiting another 7 minutes for Chatty Cathy to pack us into already crowed cars. I know we voted for chickens and pigs to have moving room, but no one thought to put that issue on the ballot for muni. Well I guess it better to know what Muni really thinks of it's passengers.

Thanks
Karolyn

When "Mason Powell" and I were returning from downtown on Election Night, we too were trapped in the vortex that is the Downtown Tunnel. Countless half empty Ks, Ls and Ms whisked by, while we waited forever for an N. Once we realized this was a fool's errand at Powell Station (since any N coming in would be packed to the rafters), we gave up, after waiting for 45 minutes, and took the next KLM to Forest Hill and LUCKILY caught at 43 going to 9th and Judah. Now, an N Judah is not a car service and I don't expect one the moment I walk in the station. But is it too much for them to run just a few more , and not run 1 car Ns?

Perhaps so!

Share your tales of woe by email or in the comments and let's hope things get better soon now that it is Holiday Season.

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!

October 24, 2008

What Happened To Today's Morning On The N? Updated With Pictures! Failwhale on Failwhale Action!

One of the only benefits of having a nice accident at home that requires a billion stitches is that you can't leave the house very much (aside from getting gauze and bandages). Now that's not the best way to avoid a lousy commute (trust me the pain sucks), but apparently I missed a domino effect of N Judah FAIL this morning, according to Reader Joel:

I believe the train in front of ours was disabled (while waiting to get on this morning one went by without letting on passengers, and then our subsequent ride from 22nd to 9th and Irving was slower than molasses, so I assume the problem was prior to that)...after I decided to walk back and try to get to the L or the Geary bus via the 28, I counted six other trains backed up, During rush hour, of course. A mess.

Anyone else see or experience this? Post in the comments!

UPDATE: Reader Karena has a detailed account of today's "clusterfrak" with some pictures! You can see all of them on this set on Flickr.

Read on:

Hi Greg, Here are some photos from this morning's commute. I believe words like clusterfrak (and its non-BG version) were invented for mornings like this.

I was on the 2-car train that suddenly stopped moving in front of PJ's Oysterbed (while the second car was stopped in front of Jamba Juice). We sat and waited for MUNI mechanics to arrive (within 10 minutes; not bad).

They disconnected the 2 cars in an attempt to fix the problem. When that didn't work, they took the entire train out of service and told everyone to wait for the next train.

Picture 1: Reconnecting the first and second cars after separating the cars didn't fix the problem (8:40 to 9:00-ish)

Picture 2: While they were trying to reconnect the disabled cars, the back-up of N-Judah trains starts growing on 9th Avenue, and presumably down Judah, too. (9:00 to 9:10)

Picture 3: For some reason, they decide to take car 1 of the next train out of service. They work on connect car 1 to the other disabled cars, so now they have to tow a 3-car train all the way to Duboce and Church. See all the people on the sidewalk and crosswalk compared to the previous picture? (9:10 to 9:20-ish)

Picture 4: MUNI employees are telling people they don't know when they will resolve this, so they start directing people to the 71 line to get downtown. (9:20-ish)

Right after I took the last picture, they start directing people back onto the one-car N-Judah. I get on that train.

We follow the 3-car out-of-service train. All...the...way...to...Duboce...and...Church...at...this...pace.

I got to work at 9:50.

Yikes!

October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mighty N-Judah!

Today is October 21st and that means today is the birthday of our N-Judah Streetcar line! Woo hoo!

For 80 years the N has taken people to downtown and back (and sometimes past 19th Avenue), and has always been a constant for Sunset District neighbors. Now, let's hope there's 80 more, and that those 80 years from now will be celebrating a happy ride too.

If you go to the (always awesome) Western Neighborhoods Project's page about the N you can see some photos from the inaugural run, piloted by none other than Mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph.

Otherwise, why not celebrate with a new commemorative T Shirt, or just think of all the people who had the same commute you do as you're waiting for the N to show up.

PS: Special thanks to Brock at SFist for this special mention today. Brock, you rock!

Also, the always coolk MUNI Diaries threw us a link too. Thanks!

October 13, 2008

80th Anniversary of the N Judah Shirts Now Available!

On October 21, 1928, the N Judah streetcar entered service. The inaugural ride was conducted by Mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph himself as it sped through the newly constructed Sunset Tunnel and out towards Ocean Beach.

"Mason Powell," who has designed all of the shirts sold here, now has a new design celebrating 80 years of our Mighty N. Featured are N Judahs from throughout the years. Buy one and show some N Judah pride today!


October 1, 2008

UPDATED: Derailment at Church and Duboce! Use Alternate Routes Instead!

I just got a short email from one of our Loyal Readers who spotted a derailment of a MUNI LRV at Church and Duboce just 5 minutes ago (10:51am). I'm at home working so I can't see for myself...if any Loyal Readers have eyewitness accounts or photos, send 'em in and we'll post them (with credit given, of course!).

Another Loyal Reader, Brendan, posted this photo on TwitPic of the accident. Brendan posted on Twitter:

MUNI is handling this situation quite gracefully. Employees are out directing riders from Church to awaiting OB trains at Duboce.

Be sure to take alternate routes while this is fixed and stay safe out there! It seems the urgency of fixing up Duboce and Church's rail lines and so on is more urgent than we thought. Too bad those big cuts from the state will delay maintenance projects like this.

UPDATE: More reports from the scene...Reader Thomas writes:

Greg, I don't know if this is the way you normally get reports of problems, but I just got off the N at Duboce (being told to take alternative transportation to downtown), to see 3 muni white trucks surrounding a broken train parked across the tracks from the downtown entrance track to the entry to the parking yard there.

Ns and Js were turning around at Duboce above ground, and Ns were making the trip to Casto to turn around once in the tunnel.

As ever, 511.org and the nextbus predictions gave no info on the problems...

Fail again.

UPDATE 2 (Electric Boogaloo): The Muni TroubleAlert is now alerting riders to the accident.

UPDATE 3: KGO TV news has some coverage, and SFist is covering it too, along with Curbed.

UPDATE 4: Two Loyal Readers provide some pictures and commentary of their experience. First, Reader David:

Hi,

Thanks for serving all us (often disgruntled) N riders. I was on the N right behind the one that derailed -- at about 10:15am this morning.

I snapped an iPhone pic and i was running to Church St. Station. It's attached.

If I wasn't late for work, I would have gotten a closer pic (this photo doesn't do it justice). At the time it happened, the operator of the train I was on said "we'll be here for just a few minutes; if you're in a rush, take the subway." They may be handling the situation well now, but when it happened, as usual, there was zero communication or awareness of what was going on. When I got to Church street, scores of people were leaving the station with the impression there was no inbound service from there either (there was in fact in-bound service).

It looked like the train was coming either outbound from the subway or from the storage track on the side. I don't know if it was switching tracks, but it had was PAST the inbound track and had hit the railing. The front was open, broken glass, almost off its hinges. I'm hoping it was an out of service train, because it would have been pretty bad for people on the train.

And here's his photo:

photo.jpg

Another "Reader David," David Stafford, also submits these photos

em_1.jpg

UPDATE 5: Reader Michael sends us this note with more developments:

As of 2:15 pm, the derailed 2-car train is still across both tracks and the tunnel is closed.

There is one J train running as a Castro shuttle. There are 4 or so 2-car N-Judah trains running between Caltrain and Castro. However, some drivers will not let you stay on the train between Church and Castro (which is my stop). Grrrrr.

There is a lot of confusion at Church Station. Unfortunately, some people who only speak Chinese are not understanding the announcements. While there seem to be a number of operators, fare inspectors, etc, none seems to be able to help those who don’t understand English go upstairs and walk to Duboce to catch the outbound N trains.

I think today illustrates how many people only know the one or two routes that they take regularly. Many people seem to have absolutely no idea where Church Station is in relation to the N Judah line.

Meanwhile, Reader Joseph (who writes the awesome MUNI Grouch blog) has been twittering pictures at his twitter account and has an N Judah car in the Church Street Station!

FINAL UPDATE: The Chronicle reports the N is back to its old self - but I would imagine that there's still going to be some delays...good luck with the commute home, everyone! Fingers crossed for a safe ride for everyone!

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 15, 2008

Uh Oh - Delays Expected for Monday Commute On The N!

Heads up, gang: the MUNI TroubleAlert indicates some damage to the N Judah overhead lines, meaning the N will stop at Hillway, pick up people on a bus, then drop them off at 19th until the wires are fixed. Try another route home if you can.

And I'll try and get some more "real" posts up soon - work + other things have interrupted my blogging, which is too bad since there's a lot to talk about, esp. in light of another week of Cable Car Fail, and the changes to MUNI service due soon. Oh and there's that Train to Nowhere too...

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

MUNI Survival Guide For the Outside Lands Music Festival and the LaPlaya Block Party

Update: I just took a look at the NextMuni/GoogleMaps mashup, and it seems like there's a ton of N's in and outbound...good luck and get home safe everyone!

For those of you headed to the Outside Lands Music Festival this Friday-Sunday, and for those headed to the LaPlaya Block Party on Saturday, heads up: we may be looking at an epic MUNI failwhale festival, as we've previously discussed. However, the N Judah Chronicles does not exist simply to complain, but to try and assist our fellow citizens as they try and enjoy a nice weekend. Thus, I've come up with a list of things you might wanna do to try and avoid too much mayhem as you head to the various festivals this weekend. UPDATE: MUNI has also posted some guides, including "preferred" places to board the N, 71, et al.

1. Don't drive to the festival! - This may seem a bit counter-intuitive given that MUNI may be on the verge of collapse, but trust me - parking really sucks near Speedway Meadow anyway, but with zillions of music fans all trying to drive there, it will only get worse. And you can bet that DPT will be out there in an "Apocalypse Now" kind of deployment to write tickets (insert "Flight of the Valkyries" music here).

Continue reading "MUNI Survival Guide For the Outside Lands Music Festival and the LaPlaya Block Party" »

August 20, 2008

Did Anyone See the Accident This Morning?

So I was working this morning and the emails started trickling in about the accident this morning which saw an N train hitting a pedestrian in the Outer Sunset.

Today I worked from home so I didn't see the delays....did anyone see what happened? I'm not much of a looky loo myself, but right now news reports are rather limited and as always, there's no indication of what actually happened, so any news would be good!

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 18, 2008

Two Ways to Read the MUNI TroubleAlert for the Outside Lands Music Festival 8/22-8/24

Subscribing to the RSS Feed for the MUNI TroubleAlert is a mixed bag. While it is often good at alerting you to a potential problem or whatever, when you read it in RSS, you only get the headline, and none of the message. And of course there's the problem of any BART alerts, which you can't ask 311 about, but can ask 511 about.

Anyway, as many of you know, there's this big Outside Lands music festival Friday through Sunday in Golden Gate Park. MUNI's TroubleAlert was kind enough to post this alert, but reading it you can interpret one of two ways. Here's the actual text:

Lines/Routes: N, 5, 7, 28, 29, 44, 71, 71L Area: Golden Gate Park Dates: Friday, August 22, through Sunday, August 24, 2008 Time: All times

Due to heavy attendance at the Outside Lands Festival as well as other events, expect delays, especially late at night, on the N Judah and all bus lines serving Golden Gate Park.

To help shorten those delays, be sure to purchase your Muni fare in advance. Advance round-trip tickets are available at these locations: Caltrain Station at 4th & King Streets, Civic Center Muni/BART Station and at the festival.

Extra service to/from Golden Gate Park will be added to Muni bus routes 5 and 71 and the N Line.

The SFMTA apologizes for any inconvenience to customers.

On the one hand, they indicate that despite zillions of people flocking to the park, there'll be delays. But they also say they'll be running extra 71s and Ns. So on the one hand they're almost apologizing in advance knowing that it's going to be a failwahle regatta on MUNI, but they're also saying "extra trains and cars! we has them!" too.

And of course, the way to speed things up is to buy your tickets in advance (because that, not operators spontaneously not showing up to work, or failing maintenance is never a cause for delay, just hippies buying MUNI tickets).

As for me, I plan on having all my errands done long in advance, and will probably have to spend the whole weekend indoors working, or looking for a stupid apartment all over again (don't even get me started on that last bit, I'm still supremely irritated by that whole situation), so I will miss the festivities, and the fun. If you're out and about and see some hilarious failwhale-on-failwhale action, email or post a comment to the site!

August 7, 2008

Broken Pantograph Fraks The N and J Today....

I guess it was lucky my days in the office this week were not today...this morning's Chronicle reports Yet Another Commute Meltdown on the N and J, due in part to a broken pantograph.

Any reports from the front lines are welcome in the comments section.

Rhetorical note: Many times MUNI personnel refer to San Francisco Citizens as "customers" - but that's not technically true. We are the taxpaying, fare-paying owners of a publicly owned Municipal Railway, and we are citizens who are responsible for making sure Our Public Officials serve the owners.

That is all.

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 3, 2008

A Quick Video I Made to Commemorate Today's Day in MUNI FAIL....

A quick video I put together, made in about 20 minutes on iMovie....it is a bit rough but I went with "get it up quickly" vs. "spend too much time away from work making iMovies." If I have time this weekend I'll probably give it a little polish (my iMovie skills are a bit limited right now).

Enjoy and have a safe holiday.

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.

July 2, 2008

The Cost of Tragedy And Bad Planning: $2 Million Payout to MUNI Accident Victim...

Several Loyal Readers emailed me this story in today's Chronicle, detailing the settlement between a victim of a horrible accident on the N Judah line and the city. $2 million dollars will be paid to the victim, which to me seems to be miniscule given the tremendous amount of suffering this woman had as a result of the accident.

Once again we see a troubling trend at MUNI - half-baked ideas to "cut the budget' or avoid the investments up front in things the system needs, only to pay many times more out in settlements later on (not to mention the death and destruction as well).

I take no pleasure in my early attempts to bitch, complain, discuss, and otherwise talk to death this topic, but I think it's time to ask the Big Paid People at City Hall to get it together, use those chess club brains of theirs, and plan a bit more intelligently for the future.

We're already paying the price of the half-assed spending of the 90s, where we deferred maintenance and killed spending for training, and we'll continue to pay dearly (in lives and money) if we keep this up.

Many people are running for Supervisor this year. Maybe the next time one of 'em bugs you for a vote, you should ask them what they're going to do that's different. And if they either give you more soft-headed rhetoric or a slack-jawed "duh?", don't elect 'em.

June 18, 2008

New Info On the Crash - Video Released....

The Chronicle got ahold of some of the video surveillance from the crash the other day, and its a bit unsettling, to say the least. The story also says that apparently the T-Third train was traveling faster than it should have in that part of the line.

KPIX also did a report, with the recently released video footage (on DVD!) which points out some of the initial info given about a "surge" by the T Third operator simply wasn't the case.

I hope they get to the bottom of this soon, and I'm glad no one was killed in the accident!

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 14, 2008

MUNI Trouble Alert Indicates the N and K/T are Bus Only Downtown - Anyone See What Happened?

It seems I left town for the afternoon just before this reported streetcar collision that the N and the K/T are "bus only" from Mission Rock to Embarcadero, due to a streetcar collision.

Anyone see what happened? If so post a picture or send in the details...and here I'd somehow managed to go from 9th/Lincoln all the way to SFO in record time, with no more than a 5 minute wait at each point...sigh...

May 29, 2008

9th Street Signals Are Working! Woo Hoo! Plus, an Ask to the Loyal Readers

By now if you've been to the 9th/Irving and 9th/Judah intersections, you've probably noticed the famous "countdown" signals and special signals for the trains are up and running, more or less. The signals seemed to start up over the weekend, and with a little fine tuning, do seem to be trying to do what they're intended to do.

That said, I think that someone is going to have to do some sort of education campaign to explain to people, who seem to walk around in a haze these days, that running in front of a train, especially when the Big Red Hand says "Don't Walk" is a really stupid idea. Plus, many people still seem to automatically cross on a green light, despite said Red Hand, not realizing that in fact, the big train that weighs tons is coming around the corner. So perhaps some flyers or a big "Walk only with Walk" sign is in order.

Overall, though, it's at least a bit of improvement, and I'm hoping that during the summer months we'll reduce accidents and near-misses to a more manageable level...now if someone could just edumacate bicyclists on the stupidity of running red lights in front of trains and buses (as well as how illegal and rude it is to ride your stupid bike on the sidewalk), we might get somewhere. That and teaching people how to make a left turn in traffic. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In other news...I've been looking for a new place lately and haven't really been able to find a studio or 1br within striking distance of the N (it seems like lately all I can find are 2 bedrooms or 3 bedroom flats). More than one landlord has told me, however, that soon more units will be up since school is letting out at UCSF, etc.

Since this worked out well last time when I put the question to the Loyal Readers (wherein I got a wonderful place with a 6 month lease that sadly has to expire next month), I'll toss it out again - if you know of a decent, non-crackhouse 1br or studio within spitting distance of the N or the like and can put me in touch with the landlord or whoever's responsible and I score said place, you get a prize. (It's a "real" prize too, not a case of Turtle Wax).

I've found that in this rental environment the best deals never make it to Craigslist or the classifieds, and that word of mouth (or email) works best. So drop me a line and let me know what you're seeing out there!

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 22, 2008

MUNI Meeting on Changes to the N and More on May 29th!

Thanks to Google Alerts and the good people at the Cole Valley Improvement Association, I caught details of an important community meeting on the future of MUNI, the Mighty N, and more that I'd missed in all the emails and whatnots I get every day. Good job guys!

Just a week from today, May 29th, there will be a meeting discussing route changes as part of the Transit Effectiveness Project at Grattan School, located at 165 Gratttan betweeen Cole and Shrader. Among the routes to be discussed are the N, N-Judah, 6-Parnassus, 7-Haight, 22-Fillmore, 24-Divisidero, 33-Stanyan,
35-Eureka, 37-Corbett, 43-Masonic, and 71L Haight/Noriega Limited.

Although the cynical may deride such meetings as a lot of hooey, the fact is we can't complain unless we get to know the recommendations of the TEP, and respond accordingly. While some of the changes are welcome, there has been the suggestion that such improvements are coming at the expense of neighborhood lines, which while not as well used, do serve a purpose in helping people get around.

The Transbay Blog has done some nice work assessing the TEP, and encouraging discussion of its many points.

Take a look and get involved! Remember, if enough people hurl enough paper and email at the Board of Supervisors, MUNI, the MTA, and the Mayor, eventually they'll have to do something to at least sort of do something.

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....

Because SFist Did It First, It's Hot, and I'm Tired: Links for Bay To Breakers Info

Ah, SFist. Since I started this little site in 2005, SFist has been one of those constants on the blogging scene, always providing a mix of news and fun and the folks over there just radiate good energy. (I mean that, I'm not being a Snarky McBlogsnot).

And, because they're so darn awesome, they have the two links you need to survive Bay to Breakers: the liquor store guide for the BTB route and the incredibly detailed MUNI press release including added N Judah service. (BTW, has anyone noted the irony of a press spokesman whose last name is "True"? I think that beats out Reagan's press guy, Larry Speakes)

I'd actually planned on doing my own write up anyway, but it's hot, I'm tired, I have a ton of work to do over the weekend, and well, SFist is cool so here ya go. Enjoy and play safe this weekend!

UPDATE: The good folks at the Transbay Blog also have a list of MUNI madness for tomorrow. Enjoy!

May 13, 2008

A Sort Of Update On The New Signals for Irving/9th and Judah/9th

Reader Donald made an observation on a post from March regarding the new signal upgrades for the Irving/9th and Judah/9th intersections that made an interesting point, so I decided to make a few calls to find out what the situation was, and got a mixed bag of answers.

It should be noted that in the original memorandum from the SFCTA, who is paying for the upgrades, this project had a 90-day schedule for completion. What was not made clear was exactly when that 90 days started, making it difficult for the average citizen to take out a calendar and start marking days.

Given how the wheels of government turn, especially when multiple agencies are involved, just saying "go do it" isn't enough - money has to be moved, etc. to get something done.

The new signal equipment is installed, but the entire project, according to Judson True, a MUNI spokesman, is "very close to completion" - however no firm date has yet been set. He did indicate that testing of the signals may begin this week, although no delay of the N Judah is expected as a result.

As I get more "real" information from MUNI, the MTA and the SFCTA, I'll update this post. And, if you happen to spot anything in your travels in and around the Inner Sunset, feel free to email me and let me know what you're seeing.

UPDATE: For some reason this post only appeared just recently, but was supposed to go up at 3pm. Odd.

Anyway, I had the chance to talk to the actual person actually in charge of actually doing this project, and the word is that most of the work is in fact done. The only thing that kept this project from being completed in the original 90 day window were some unforseen issues that required additional digging underground for cabling and the like.

Word is that testing for the system will begin next week, and once it is confirmed to be working, will be unveiled as quickly as possible.

April 30, 2008

Reader Mail II: A Clarification on Statements Made to the Examiner

Reader Michael wrote in inquiring about a comment I made to the Examiner that appeared in this morning's paper:

I'm not sure if the Examiner quoted you correctly when they wrote:

"'If you board the N-Judah on 48th [Avenue] and get off before downtown, there is no one checking your ticket,' said Greg Dewar, who runs the blog The N-Judah Chronicles."

The statement attributed to you is not correct. Although it is true that MUNI fare inspectors only work the MUNI rail lines; it is not true that they only do so downtown.

I live in the Outer Sunset (43rd Ave.) roughly equidistant from the N and L lines and ride them both regularly...although I tend to favor the N because it is less crowded and runs much more frequently than the L. On both lines, I have encountered fare inspectors well away from downtown.

On the N, I have faced them at 19th/Judah, UCSF, and Church/Duboce. On the L, I have encountered them at 31st/Taraval and 19th/Taraval.

I think when I was speaking to the reporter (while trying to do some work on the computer at the same time) I don't know that I made it clear I was referring to the second train in a two-train N as being where one can board without paying. I don't for a moment think this was an intentional mistake on the part of the reporter - rather I just didn't pick the precise wording with regards to that issue and the mistake would be mine.

One thing I discussed with the reporter that probably didn't fit into this particular story was the fact that once upon a time, on busy bus and MUNI lines, MUNI paid people to collect money and load people on and off the bus at the back doors of said buses and trains, to move things along and collect money they're owed.

However, I think there is a case to be made that having some more fare inspectors on some of the more notorious bus lines is not a bad idea - I think the 71 Haight easily qualifies as one of the biggest fare-evadin' bus lines in the system. Your thoughts? Post 'em in the comments.

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 22, 2008

Hippies 1 - Working Commuters 0 - or Reason #205102345 I Live In the Sunset....

If you're not already reading Eater SF the sister site to the always awesome Curbed SF, well you really should check it out if you're interested in more information on the many fascinating (and sadly, expensive) places to eat out in Our Fair City.

Today, Google Reader and Eater SF conspired to bring this little vignette about SF's allegedly super-greenie eviro-y restaurante. Funny enough, they're not only offering Critical Mass Happy Hour Specials, they're also giving Bike Coaltion people expensive "organic" beers for Pabst Blue Ribbon prices.

Memo to hipster greenies running your "Friend of the Earth" restaurant....if anyone deserves a break on pricey hipster beer prices, it is the hard working men and women of Our Fair City that endure a MUNI ride every freakin' day. We're not driving our cars, we're "doing the right thing," so cut us a break even though we don't scream like bashees about some lost cookie, m'kay?

Thanks, and for more information on MUNI, consult your local library!

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 6, 2008

Upcoming Fun Monday With the Giants and Tuesday With The Special Election!

An FYI to commuters and some of those who live within range of the N-Judah (or just the Sunset District and parts elsewhere west and south in Our Fair City) - we've got two events that may or may not affect your commute.

Monday, of course, is Opening Day for the Giants at AT&T Park, so it's reported that MUNI will be operating a special "stadium shuttle" as well as other tweaks to move people along to the game. The Giants have thoughtfully provided this guide to getting to the ballpark by pretty much any means possible. If anyone goes to the game, feel free to report your tale of MUNI woe or triumph here in the comments!

On Tuesday, there's a Special Election for those of you who live in the 12th Congressional District. This election is being held to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Tom Lantos earlier this year. Many people may not realize there's an election, even with the spattering of junk mail pumped out by the various candidates. However it's an important election as currently the district (and our N line) is without any Congressional representation.

If one candidate wins the election with a 50%+1 majority, no additional special election will be held, if not they'll hold a Special General Election on June 3rd. However, if the latter happens, it will also mean our CD will continue to have no representation in Congress, which is not a good thing, esp. when we have messes like the Central Subway to try and clean up.

Right now the race seems to be between the frontrunner, who has, among other things, a CalTrain locomotive named after her and an assortment of no-names. I'm rooting for my hometown hero, of course, but you should definitely vote for the candidate of your choice!

March 12, 2008

Fun with MapJack.com and the N

If you haven't already checked out the wasting-time-at-work fun that is MapJack, well put down that TPS report and get thee to the site immediately.

Yes, its like the streetview that is the glory of Google Maps, but the street view is bigger and more detailed than Google Maps. Currently only SF and a city in Thailand are represented, but that's fine, because you can actually follow and beat an N Judah train inbound.

Just click on this link and turn "Jack" around to go inbound on Judah Street. Click on the dots and you'll notice you're following the same N train, until it stops near 7-11, and then off you go, passing the Mighty N by.

Hey, it beats working, right?

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.

February 26, 2008

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

For the better part of a year, news of the ongoing Transit Effectiveness Project has been kicked around as meetings, studies and whatnot have been devoted to try and figure out where and what MUNI needs to change in order to be useful to San Francisco's citizens. I've always encouraged people to get involved in the process, mostly because if people just let the geniuses run the show, the result is likely a mess.

The Chronicle has a recap of the report's release, and you can go to the TEP site itself and download copies of the various reports. There's so much here that it's hard to really comment on it without reading it, so for now I'll hold off any big postings until I read it for myself. If any of you have comments as you check it out, please feel free to discuss in the comments section.

And remember: while some of the report inevitably is a bit of the No Duh Institute variety (gawrsh Mickey, folks want the buses to run on time! We needed a study to tell us that), some of the other parts of the study I saw a while back were kind of interesting in showing how people use the system as of today.

MUNI hasn't updated its routes in 20+ years, and let's face it, 20 years ago there were plenty of parts of the City where no one lived, that now house thousands of people, and we still have many "legacy" routes that are the lineal descendants of streetcars (and streetcar companies) long gone.

Enjoy the transit-y goodness, fellow citizens!

UPDATE: The good folks at the Transbay Blog did a nice quick summary of the changes in the TEP. Go check it out!

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 18, 2008

SF Chronicle Reports on Recent MUNI Accidents...And A Minor Clarification...

This morning's Chronicle has a report on recent events and MUNI safety that's worth checking out. I think that as we go forward, the good citizens of San Francisco are going to have to keep pestering their elected officials and others if we're going to see any of that Measure A money spent to benefit the folks that pay said money (i.e. the citizens!)

Also, a couple of folks have emailed regarding a comment I made in the story that perhaps needs a slight clarification. The incident I described happened at Irving and 9th, and in this case a guy crossed the street on a red as a 44 O'Shaughnessy was rushing through the intersection to pick us up. As some of us saw what was happening, we were all convinced this was going to be another accident, but the driver in question saw the guy and managed to avoid an accident. Being an idiot I forgot to note the driver's badge number so I could send a compliment in to MUNI because this guy was on the ball.

While this did happen on the same night as the fatal accident on the N, the one described above has nothing to do with the N accident, and just because in this particular case some guy crossed on a red, that has nothing to do with the other incident.

In this case I was merely pointing out that there are many reasons why the streets are unsafe, and as such, no one "solution" will magically solve all our problems.

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 12, 2008

A Quick History Lesson : Why The N Turns at Irving and 9th In the First Place...

Several people have asked me why it is the N-Judah makes the infamous left turn onto 9th street in the first place, and doesn't just continue on Irving, OR stay on Judah/Parnassus. Aside from the obvious (it wouldn't be the N-Judah if it was on Irving, it'd be the N-Irving), the reason you have this detour is because it's a relic from the olden days of multiple service providers in San Francisco running rail lines.

Quite awhile back we had a photo of the old 6 Parnassus streetcar and the N on Carl Street. MUNI and the private operators avoided sharing rails whenever possible, hence the split we have to this day, even though the 6 Parnassus ceased to be a rail line decades ago.

Many of the bus routes of today are leftovers from when the Market Street Railway merged with MUNI, and from other smaller providers of transit service, when various companies would attempt to duplicate service. And yet if you try to change anything there's usually someone demanding it all stay the same. That's why the Transit Effectiveness Project is trying to analyze how people actually use and don't use the system, so they can revise it to make things run for today's needs, not for 20+ years ago's needs. Hopefully.

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!

December 3, 2007

C.W. Obvious Comes to the Sunset, Blogging Mayhem Ensues - The NJC Perspective

Over the weekend, Chronicle readers were treated to this column by CW Obvious on a really horrible stabbing that happened in the Outer Sunset. Thank God the poor woman (an exchange student from Germany) survived and isn't dead, but I can only imagine the pain (mental and physical) such an attack would cause. On behalf of the good people of San Francisco, we all want to say "we're sorry" our City sucked so much you got attacked.

As you might imagine, CW's safari into the strange and mysterious wilds of the Outer Sunset set off blogging mayhem, SF Style, with all sorts of accusations and recriminations, not to mention a torrent of angry comments on SFGate. Feel the love, people.

For me, however, I found the whole situation to be Yet Another Example of how local media might better serve their dwindling readership if they took some classes at the No Duh Institute.

It's no secret that whenever the 5-0 roust the perpetually ill or perpetually addicted from one spot, they go elsewhere, preferably somewhere with some spare change, but without a lot of police or citizen hassle. Too often, that's meant the outer neighborhoods, and we've seen what happens when we get to critical mass. Neither the "homeless" or the citizens win in the end.

Sure, CW and the Chronicle may feel great when they take pictures of "the rabble" being rousted out of a portion of Golden Gate Park - but they don't seem to be aware that the warm, squishy feelings don't change anything - "the rabble" simply pick up sticks and move elsewhere, often using our MUNI.

Now, you would think in a city with as many allegedly intelligent people as ours, folks could turn down the irrational emotions and sensational articles for a few minutes, think about the many issues involved, listen to each other and those involved in said issues, and come to a reasonable solution.

I don't know that the "homeless," drug addicts, or the mentally ill are served particularly well by having them living around the streets, hurting themselves and others, and not being on the medication that can literally save their lives. On the other hand, I've seen enough demands for detention camps (and worse) for folks guilty of the crime of Not Having Money or Having a F*cked Mental Illness to make me wonder just how "enlightened" San Francisco really is.

Instead, as with MUNI, people are content to scream and yell from their respective ideological corners, the louder the better, and to Hell with the Other Side. Too bad that in this case, as with MUNI, the reasonable people of San Francisco are caught in the middle - and end up the ones who lose the most.

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!

October 20, 2007

Don't Forget! TEP "Dose of Reality" Day is Monday, October 22nd!

Just a friendly reminder....if you're ready to speak up and tell the folks in charge of the Transit Effectiveness Project a dose of your reality, as well as hear more about what they say they're doing, you can do so at Monday's meeting right here in the Inner Sunset...info is as follows:

Inner Sunset, Mon. Oct. 22, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
County Fair Building (Hall of Flowers) near entrance to SF Botanical Garden
9th Ave. at Lincoln Way
The nearest Muni lines are N-Judah, 6, 43, 44, 66 and 71.
Check it out!

October 9, 2007

Reader Mail: More CC's of Letters to Mayor Newsom, Board of Supervisors...

UPDATE: MUNI is inventing new ways to blow it - now the N line is experiencing it's own, separate-from-this-morning's-blowout problems and apparently we can expect significant delays today.

Sigh...

UPDATE 2: According to the Chron the N was allegedly back up and running at 2pm. Please post your experiences in the comments this afternoon!

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled posting:

This morning's kerfuffle of power lines made for some delayed commutes. However, it is also clear that there has been a new wave of N Judah Follies befalling our fellow citizens on the way to work. I noticed over the weekend, where we had huge crowds of people taking the N to Golden Gate Park, and such, that MUNI decided it was a good idea to one one car trains.

On one of the busiest weekends at Golden Gate Park.

After they tell everyone to "take transit" to make life easier.

Hmm.

(To be fair, those folks I know who drove to the big festival in the park said that parking was horrid, but still, that is kind of like saying "Oh I only got burned a little by the oncoming lava flow" or something)

Onward. Reader Karen sent a letter to Mayor Newsom, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and CC'd a copy to the site with her tale of horror:

Mr. Mayor and Mr. Elsbernd, My intent is not to bore you with the details of my commute, but to illustrate MUNI's failure to serve San Francisco. I had a 9:00AM meeting this morning, so I left the house at **7:45**. I walk down to Judah and 15th, and there are at least three dozen people waiting for the train--normally there are ten.

A train finally arrives at 8:15, and it is so packed that it doesn't even stop. I tap out an email on my Blackberry to colleagues to let them know I might be late.

Another train finally arrives at 8:35, and even though it's packed, I have no choice but to get on the train.

(By this time, more than a dozen EMPTY trains have been traveling westbound, the opposite direction.)

At 8:55, I send another email to colleagues that I am going to miss the meeting--because the train is stuck at Duboce Park while the conductor tries to get the stairs to go down. No word from the conductor.

At 9:15, the train has been at the Civic Center for 5 minutes, waiting to pull away from the station. No word from the conductor.

At **9:25**, I am finally at the Embarcadero station. I've missed my meeting.

Yes, there were downed power lines in the tunnel. But this experience was clearly the result of MUNI employees not showing up for their routes.

It would be great if this were an isolated incident, but there is a reason I give myself 75 minutes to get downtown everyday.

In the past two months I've been working in Chicago and Boston. None of my colleagues in those offices complain about train service, nor are they routinely late for meetings because of mass transit.

The MUNI problem is not an easy one to fix. But have you experienced what San Francisco residents face on a regular basis? MUNI administrators can high-five themselves over 72% on-time performance all they want. But when you're waiting for the 28% of trains that don't show up, a mild-mannered cubicle dweller like myself feels compelled to write to the Mayor and her Supervisor.

Best,

Karena

Yikes! Now, the sad part is that of late, this has been getting worse, just as they announce the "on time rates" but worse, on the eve of an election where MUNI is asking folks to give them more money and promise to fix problems.

I think it is also high time that union folks, who keep telling us we need to pay public employees more and more salary and pensions, what they propose to do to fix problems like these since they've already pocket vetoed any real reform of the hiring rules.

Union labor is supposed to mean professional, quality work, guys - if you're going to tinker with Measure A to protect your big bucks, you better show us you can also provide workable solutions to this whole "not showing to work" thing. Otherwise, get out of our way!

The brave people from the Fix MUNI Yes on A campaign were out in force on Saturday along the N, and I say they are brave only because I am sure they had to listen to a lot of what regular citizens have to say. Which is good - but I just hope it translates into some action, too.

Reader Alex, in response to last week's discussion of problems on the N provides this insight into how to express one's frustrations to 311.

Oy. When the train turns around early: CALL 311. I'm looking at a small stack of PSRs that I've called in. Despite what I had hoped were fairly clear complaints to the 311 operators the reports have gotten filed in three different categories: 177 - Running wrong destination sign, 114 - Switchback, or 106 - Insufficient service schedule.

The one marked as "114 - Switchback" is also marked "actionable". The others are not. Make sure you indicate that the complaint is indeed an issue of insufficient service (or unnecessary switchback).

They're doing the same damn things on the L, turning the trains around, usually without any warning. Thus it is nearly impossible to get beyond 22nd Ave. Perhaps it's naive to think that feedback will change
anything, but it's a start.

Reader Alex makes a good point. Perhaps the complaints alone may not do enough, but if there's enough of them on record and some enterprising local reporter (what few we have left) decides to go investigate, they'll find a treasure trove of complaints that someone can be cornered on during a TV broadcast or in an investigative piece in print later on. Immediate remedies are few, it seems, but at least it is worth a shot.

October 5, 2007

Reader Mail: When Statistics and Life Collide On the N Judah Line

The other day I got the following CC'd email, orginally sent to Mayor Newsom, regarding what sounds like a terrible ride on the N-Judah from Reader Stephen:


Dear Mayor Newsom,

I'm writing to draw your attention to the atrocious inability of the San Francisco Municipal Railway to transport people in a timely manner. I live at 45th Avenue and Kirkham St. Today, I left my house at 9:35 a.m. I arrived at the 46th Ave. N-Judah stop at 9:37 a.m. I got off the train at Montgomery station at 10:56 a.m. That's almost 80 minutes to go a little over 7 miles. Should the citizens of the City be required to pay $1.50 for public transit that is slower than travel on foot?

Now, it is not an instantaneous connection from the Outer Sunset to downtown, but this is ridiculous. Combined with the ongoing issue of random turnarounds at 19th, and you can see why residents of the Outer Sunset can get quite skeptical when they hear talk of fixing MUNI.

It's also an example of how statistics don't always tell a story. In today's Examiner, reporter David Smith tells us some new statistics regarding various MUNI routes. Here we learn that the N is growing in number of passengers, but has an ontime rating of 72% (down 3% from the previous year).

Here's where stats alone don't always help - sure, one can say that a route that's 72 or even 75% on time is "good" and all. However, if a rider who really needs to get somewhere on time, such as Reader Stephen, gets stuck with the Ride from Hell, it really doesn't matter anymore if on paper the line is doing great. People don't need to be on time to work, school, the store, or a doctor's appointment only 72% of the time - and they certainly don't get rewarded for being late.

Now, there are times when even the best run system can run into problems not its own (double parked cars and trucks that refuse to move, accidents blocking the train, etc.) But is it realistic to expect that every delay is totally beyond human control all the time? Probably not.

This, in a sense, is the biggest challenge those trying to pass the MUNI reform amendment face as they try to tell voters that Measure A will do something good to make things better in the long run. While there's no doubt that most people when asked if they want "MUNI fixed" they'll say yes, people in San Francisco are also resigned to more than a little cynicism when it comes to the believability of a proposed "fix" on the ballot.

I would suggest that people cannot expect Someone Else, or Them to fix any problems, be they MUNI or otherwise, or assume that The Big Plan is going to be any sort of cure-all alone. It's only if people decide that they deserve better, and are willing to do something, anything to let Them know that we expect better, as Reader Stephen has done. Likewise, it is only going to be as a result of Everyone holding the folks who created Measure A accountable for the promises is it likely to do what it claims it will do.

San Francisco has the potential to be a truly extraordinary place to live and have a functional, decently run government and transit system. Cynics can belittle such an ideal all the like, but then again, cynicism never solved any problems. Getting off one's backside and doing what they can, however, did.

It certainly costs a lot to live here (and anyone paying property and business taxes are paying a fortune!). Isn't it about time people got their money's worth from the folks in charge? And isn't it time they started acting on that, instead of just more talk?

September 19, 2007

News From Cole Valley! Possible Changes to the Carl/Cole Stop and Cole Valley Festival 9/23!

Quite a bit of local news in Cole Valley these days, some N-related, and some only sort-of-N related. First, Reader Chris alerted me to this meeting that was announced via email to people living in Cole Valley, about a meeting to begin preliminary discussions with the community about potential improvements at Carl and Cole Street.

Among the things being discussed for this key stop on the N are the moving of the inbound stop to accommodate a new platform so that the N doesn't have to make 2 stops - right now it has to stop once at Carl and Cole, and again if anyone needs assistance getting on the train. Some have raised concerns in the past about disabled access at Carl and Cole, hence the study, I'm guessing.

Other items include the new bus shelters that are coming soon, adding such things as ticket machines, etc., and other amenities. The meeting is on September 27th at Grattan School. If you live in the area and have any concerns, now would be the time to express them as they begin to get the ball rolling.

Remember, with a lot of these kinds of things, if no one shows up early on, it becomes harder to get your $.02 in later on. Even if you can't make the meeting, if you've got concerns about the future of Carl and Cole, email the MTA and let them know!

On a lighter note, the annual Cole Valley Festival on September 23rd. As always, one of our favorite local artists, Niana Liu will have a booth selling her works.

Niana's work often has a MUNI focus, such as this piece on MUNI fares we linked to a while back. She also produces these wonderful gift items celebrating neighborhoods in San Francisco, too.

Quite a lot going on in this corner of the N, for sure. Hopefully the storm will pass and this weekend we'll go back to the "San Francisco Summer" weather we'd been enjoying so far!

September 13, 2007

Friday Fun: "SF Summer" Weather and the Autumn Moon Festival on Saturday

While others see September as a month of cooler and cooler weather, we in San Francisco are finally getting our summer. I'd been working as fast as I could to get out of the office today and enjoy some of it while it lasts.

Also, right along the Mighty N's route is the Autumn Moon Festival on Irving Street between 22nd and 25th. They usually have something fun to do at these kinds of events, and it's easy to get to - just take the N and get off at 22nd and walk to Irving Street!

Enjoy your weekend and hopefully today's commute won't suck too much!

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!

September 7, 2007

Reader Mail: Tracking Scary Weirdos on the N, and A Plea to Stop Turnarounds at 19th Avenue...

This week's Reader Mail has some tales of woe, and a bit of hope for riders of our Mighty N Judah. First, Reader Jason writes about a sitaution he and his wife have encountered concerning a person who's behavior on the N has caused some disruption to service, and offers this tale as a public service to fellow riders of the N:

Dear N Judah Chronicles:

I am writing you today to tell you about a guy my wife and I have named "Creepy Pervert Guy on the N Judah." His method is to hop on super packed morning rush-hour N-Judahs, inbound, usually boarding anywhere between Stanyan St. and Church St stops. He only rides when the train is super packed; i.e.. Standing room only. He may ride at other times, but we have only witnessed him from 7:30am-9:30am weekdays.

He will enter a train car, find a woman, and hold onto the rail. It's hard to tell from this picture but he will grab the rail much further ahead from where he is standing. This allows him to smother the woman in front of him. What you don't see is that he is pushing his...Ahem... into the woman in front of him, below the line of view of anyone else on the train.

When he tires of this, he will find another woman on the same train. I've also seen him hop off the current train car at a stop and run, not walk, to a train car behind the one he was on and hop on before the train takes off (I'm assuming to find a new crop of women to do this to that are unsuspecting).

My wife and I have been tracking this pervert for a few months now. My wife noticed this guy one day when he did this very same thing to her. It was extremely uncomfortable for her, and when it happened a second time she KNEW something was up. One day as we were taking the train together, wouldn't you know it, there he was waiting for the train at our stop.

Now I knew who this guy was. We made a pact to try to get a photo of him in the act and spread it out there. Before we could do that, we really needed to know that this wasn't a figment of our imagination or sick coincidence. We had to know that his intentions were such before we start some sort of a smear campaign on anyone.

You have to understand that the way he does this is so under the radar that merely calling him out wouldn't be very effective. We had to know from others that this was in fact happening.

One morning he boarded and my wife noticed he was doing it AGAIN. She ran up and told the driver about the man. The driver then stopped the train from moving. He made an announcement to the train. He pulled into Van Ness, and unfortunately creepy guy hopped off. By the time the train got to Civic Center, Muni police were waiting to board and look for the guy who unfortunately was no longer on board.

What sealed the deal for us was one morning a few weeks ago when I hopped onto the N-Judah to go to work in the morning. I got a nice spot in between two trains so I could lean. Wouldn't you know it, he boarded the train in front of me. From my vantage point, I could tell that he had picked a lady and was straddling her. I couldn't see her face, I could sure as hell see his.

Continue reading "Reader Mail: Tracking Scary Weirdos on the N, and A Plea to Stop Turnarounds at 19th Avenue..." »

August 28, 2007

How's This For A Birthday Present: Spare The Air Day Free Transit 8/29!

What a great birthday present. Well, sort of, anyway...it seems that Wednesday is a Spare the Air Day, meaning that MUNI buses and trains will be free and BART, CalTrain, and ferry service will be free from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.!

Read more about this wonderful day at the Examiner and enjoy what is going to be Yet Another Warm, BM/Rapture-like Day. Use up one of those "Get Out Of Work Free" days if you can!

Party like a rock star and don't bother driving. See you at the Blackthorn late this afternoon, where I'll be spending my Schrute Bucks and having a wonderful day...and if you're wondering how to make a blogger's day, well, here's the amazon list...or just stop by and say hi....

My Amazon.com Wish List

August 23, 2007

Why Work When You Can Goof Off Online: The N Judah Chronicles Elsewhere On the Internets

Being the first decade of the 21st Century and all, one cannot have enough blogs, social networking profiles, and the like. I've been experimenting with a few, with mixed results. I am working on some short videos for You Tube but am learning as I go, so for now I'm mostly linking to others' videos there. Likewise, on Flickr, you'll find photos featured here previously, as well as other finds that I didn't write full-blown posts for.

So, if you're trying to look busy at work and the groovy 70s graphics of the blog are a tipoff to the boss you're not working on your TPS reports, check out our virtual land grabs at YouTube, Facebook, Vox, and Flickr.

Bonus points if somehow the magical algorithms of LinkedIn discover we're connected somehow. I have no idea what they did to it lately, but suddenly it seems like everyone I know is finding me there after years of dormant activity....go figure.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend, and enjoy whatever it is you like to do in your spare time! Have fun!

A "Victory" In The Irving/9th Street Safety Crusade?

This morning's Examiner has some news that should be of interest to Loyal Readers: it seems that The MTA/MUNI/Whatever is finally appropriating some money to improve signals and safety at Irving and 9th.

The news could be considered a "victory" of sorts for the mini-crusade I'd been pushing, both here, and at the Act Locally SF "blog", but I think that'd be a bit too pretentious, don'tchathink?

However, I think this whole situation reflects the Average S.F. Citizen's frustration with MUNI, the City, and the kind of groupthink that envelop said institutions. It does not require a freakin' "TEP" or armies of imported "consultants" to figure out that:

a) something wasn't working right with the situation at Irving/9th and Judah/9th to begin with for cars, transit, and pedestrians

and

b) there were/are some fixes MUNI, with its armada of highly paid City Workers and Geniuses could have implemented by now

and

c) that requests to do so fell on deaf and often hostile ears when brought up, both by this blog and by others, including elected officials.

Whatever. I'm just glad something is being done, especially, as I like to remind people, this was promised almost a year ago at a town hall meeting sponsored by Sup. Mirkarimi. (And unlike that other town hall meeting, they didn't dodge questions on this issue.)

In an irony of ironies, not soon after I spoke with Ms. Rocha on the phone, I was going to the post office at Irving and 9th where I not only almost got hit by a speeding car making a right turn, while dodging that car, I then had to dodge a cab making a left ,which was not only speeding, but Ol' Cabbie was on the frakking cell phone, oblivious to traffic or anything besides That Big Phone Call.

Being the speedy walker I am, I dodged both, but of course, a senior citizen or one of our disabled citizens might not have been so lucky. I told the idiot cabbie to "be more careful and get off the cell phone" and he replied with some choice language not meant for the kids and to "shut up."

Ticked as I was, I replied to him in his native language, which elicited a surprise. I learned very little in junior high school, but being friends with the foreign exchange students taught me a few things, including how to tell someone off in languages from around the world. Who says the public education system isn't worth something?

If we'd had the fixes, though, Rude Cabbie, myself, and everyone could have made our way safely and happily, sans drama. Maybe when MUNI finally engages in the fix in the year 2015, we can achieve something close to Nirvana, at least while crossing the street or heading home....

PS: Today's Examiner also had a short roundup of the cuts MUNI and BART will be getting, thanks to the enviro-hip Legislature and Governor. Remember, next time you see Assemblymembers Mark Leno or Fiona Ma, be sure to thank them for the budget cuts to MUNI, since as we all know unstable funding is what is necessary to make the system run better!

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!

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!

June 28, 2007

Giants Fans! Starting June 30th, The N Goes To AT&T Park and Caltrain as God Intended

Big news, folks! Starting tomorrow, June 30th, the N-Judah once again goes all the way to AT&T Park and Caltrain, just as God intended. For those of you going to the Giants game tomorrow, you can disregard previous bulletins and board the N like you used to for all those times you went to the ballpark, pre-T Third calamity.

If you're not going to the game tomorrow, why not drop by the pre-scripted fun in North Beach and find a creative way to cut through the chatter and let Mayor Newsom what you think should be done to improve MUNI!

Either way, have fun, play safe, and enjoy your weekend!

Which Stops on the N Would You Give Up To Speed Up the N?

Oh no, here it comes. Reading today's the latest pronouncement from Our Mayor on Muni, it looks like the topic of MUNI is about to go through the "talk is cheap" machine once again.

That's because it's easy to confuse the rhetorical barb of "eliminating MUNI stops will make it more efficient" with a reasoned, thought out plan, such as the Transit Effectiveness Project is supposed to be. The former is just a reflexive statement with no intrinsic meaning people "agree" to because it sounds reasonable, and the latter is the product of serious, quantitative research.

There's no doubt there's a lot of duplication of service, some left over from the days of multiple companies providing service in the Olden Days. And, there's no doubt that there are some stops that are really unnecessary (why is there a stop at 12th and one at Funston, a short block apart, on the N line?). However, if we go down the road of just cutting stops at random to make MUNI and electeds look good, we're in for some trouble.

Personally, I question the wisdom of Our Mayor putting all the "Fix MUNI Eggs" in one basket, if only because it seems like at any given moment, whenever one asks the Mayor anything about MUNI, he seems to repeat "TEP" as many times as he can. That's fine if the TEP lives up to the hype and produces well researched results. It sucks if we get a consensus-built "compromise" designed to appease and accommodate, and make people look good in the short term.

The best way to avoid such a mess is for you, the MUNI rider and citizen, get involved as much as you can with the TEP and force them, and those Elected Folk, to listen to regular people as they deliberate.

Hopefully, when they sit down with all the king's consultants and all the king's men, they put our MUNI back together again, and do so in a way that benefits everyone in Our Fair City.

June 17, 2007

Reader Mail: Blocking the N Judah on a Saturday Night For Only $55!

Ok folks, I'm not making this sh*t up. Seriously.

Loyal Reader "MateoSF" was kind enough to send us the YouTube URL for a fit of insantiy on the N-Judah I happened to miss as I was out of town this week in Ed Jew's hometown (and mine, before I escaped), in Burlingame,

Anyway, MateoSF was kind enough to capture on video what could be the most iditotic Jedi move on the N-Judah ever - driving your frakking PRIUS into the Sunset tunnel!

No, really.

Here's his footage. Let's light the lighter because this guys ROCKS, and he ROCKS because he let me know about his incredible footage first!

Rock on!

June 4, 2007

The N is Going Back To Caltrain! For Real!

Well it's looking like all the rumors are true the N is going to go all the way to the Caltrain station once again. I'd been hearing about this for a few days but waited until I heard some Official MUNI Notice about said so.

Pardon me for not celebrating just yet. Until we see all these "fixes" implemented and see how it goes, I'm not going to get fooled like I did before when they told us how great things were gonna be by not going all the way to Caltrain. Let's see what happens!

In the meantime, what are they going to do about all those signs?

May 9, 2007

"All Options Are On The Table" -- Let's Hear Your Thoughts...

Hopefully both Loyal Readers and New Readers saw today's front page article in the Examiner today. Aside from the fact that Rockin' Reporter Alex Rocha managed to talk to a certain local blogger, what's more important is that MUNI is clearly feeling some heat to do something, anything, if not to totally repair the system, to at least make people feel better. Maybe doing this blog and publishing our comments isn't futile after all? Hmm.

Fine. Here's the thing. We can always talk about "common sense" solutions as citizens and users of MUNI, but the fact is, we're not privy to the endless amounts of data, engineering, and whatnot that makes up running a mass transit system for a major US city. The good citizens on the MUNI Citizen's Advisory Council deserve a lighter lit because they rock and a big thanks because they must possess the patience of Job to put in the (unpaid) hours to try and wrest some answers from MUNI. That said, when I read this whole "all options on the table" rhetoric, my DNFW antennae are raised.

Why?

Simple. We get the rhetoric of how they're trying to "help" and sure, possibly, not having the N have to bottleneck at the overworked Embarcadero station should help, but does that mean that instead we'd just push the problem to the Caltrain station?

Continue reading ""All Options Are On The Table" -- Let's Hear Your Thoughts..." »

May 7, 2007

Reader Mail - More Trauma and Drama on the N-Judah Line

Our once-Mighty N is being reduced to a bad joke, shared by those who rely on it for their commute, their livelihood, or just about any reason one might need to get from Point A to Point B. MUNI management offers double-talk at best, and, more often, outright lies. This has to stop!

Today we feature two letters from Loyal Readers, one from Eve Batey, an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and another reader who had similar problems with the N recently. We thank both for their comments and concerns!

Dear Mr Ford-

Eve Batey, here. You might remember me from the interview I did with you for SFist.com this time last year. Now I'm an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and Matt Baume has taken over the Muni beat for SFist.

I'm writing to you over my concern with the N Judah, which seems to be more and more frequently ending its run at 19th Avenue. Over the course of this past week, I have been on 5 (five) N Judahs that have reached this premature conclusion without warning -- most recently
tonight, when the N I was on at 12:30 or so ejected its passengers, with the driver informing us that another train would be there to pick us up in "2 or 3 minutes."

Each of the five times this week that the N Judah has ended its run at 19th Avenue, I have walked all the way home to my apartment at 43rd and Irving without seeing another outbound N, putting to lie any "2 or 3 minutes" assertion an N driver might make. Tonight was no exception. While the other abortive rides this week were earlier in the evening -- 8 or 9 PM -- having to walk home after midnight was a whole new low for me. Mr Ford, there aren't a lot of cabs in the Sunset. One's options are to wait for an N, or to walk. Imagine the women you know, family or close friends. Would you want them walking home, alone, at 12:30 at night? So why is that acceptable for any of the passengers of the transit organization you oversee?

Continue reading "Reader Mail - More Trauma and Drama on the N-Judah Line" »

April 30, 2007

Save the N-Judah! A Call To Action UPDATE: Tell it To Nate Ford IN PERSON May 3rd!

Scroll down for the update on how you can take the fight directly to MUNI's leadership!

Loyal Readers: It's time for N-Judah riders to take a stand and do what we can to Save the N-Judah. For some time now, I've been hearing many N-Judah riders report the fact that during peak times, the N-Judah no longer completes its route to Ocean Beach, but instead arbitrarily drops people off early, without warning, and turns around.

This has to stop. Now.

And it won't stop unless people start mobilizing and taking action so MUNI stops with the excuses and starts doing the job right. Today I'm going to suggest a start -- flooding MUNI and the Mayor's Office and the Board of Supervisors with our grievances.

Here's how it will work. If you, or a friend or neighbor, has the experience of having the N-Judah crap out on them midway through the ride, send MUNI an official complaint via their Black Hole Complaint Form, then immediately post a copy in the comments section of this post as well. And, for added impact, CC a copy to the The Mayor's office and the supervisors who represent the N.

Obviously there's a limit to how effective this sort of thing can be, but it is a start. We simply can't MUNI ruin our N-Judah line like they have and get away with it.

Since playing nice doesn't seem to get the attention of these folks, it is time to turn up the volume and let MUNI and our elected officials know, we're tired of excuses - we just want the N to work!

Hopefully, by CC'ing your complaints to the comments section, we can hold MUNI accountable by shining light on the complaints so they can't just bury them like they usually do. If you have other constructive suggestions or ideas, feel free to email me at any time!

URGENT UPDATE: Thanks to one of our Loyal Readers who serves on the Citizen's Advisory Council for MUNI, I got ahold of copy of Thursday's Meeting at which Mr. Nate Ford and Mr. Ken McDonald will be discussing issues related to the T-Third line's integration with existing operations.

I am doing my best to re-arrange my schedule to be there and let 'em know in person what we think of what seems to be official policy ruining the N-Judah's reliability. If you are as ticked off about MUNI's foibles and would like to take the message directly to the folks in charge, why not stop by?

April 24, 2007

MUNI Boss Nate Ford Says "The Worst Is Over" - Is It?

Well, according to the breaking news at the SF Chronicle, "the worst is over" from MUNI's latest follies and meltdowns.

Despite the charts and graphs, I keep noticing it takes me longer to get around, and I can't count on MUNI, and especially the N-Judah like I used to.

What do you think? This is an open thread - please post your comments here and let people know what your commute's like. Is "the worst" over?

PS: Don't forget to let the Supervisors that represent the N know what you think!

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 13, 2007

Friday the 13th: MUNI Meltdown Wrap Up, and More!

Well, it's been quite a week, hasn't it? Frankly, although I've got a lot of work and whatnot to do today, it's Friday the 13th which frankly rattles me - and I'm not even superstitious! ( although one reader has suggested that perhaps the double whammy of MUNI and the 13th might make things a bit better.)

First, a thanks to Traci Grant of NBC 11 for my first "earned media" appearance on TV. Today, Ms. Grant posted a comment in our Commute from Hell thread looking for emails from you, the riders of MUNI, about your experiences this week. Send her an email about your latest horor story and she might use it on the air!

In more serious news, today MUNI decided to "fix" things with the T-Third line by replacing the rail services with a "shuttle bus" from Sunnydale to Caltrain.

On April 14th.

The same day as the big opening of the T-Third line!

Yes, you read that press release right. You have to wonder how the various PR people are going to spin that one to the press and a disillusioned public, much less Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi, who will be there to kick off a train line that's being served by buses.

I'm going to try and be at the event tomorrow, but if any of you are going, take some pictures and post them to Flickr (or your favorite photo sharing site) and write in about your experiences!

Enjoy the weekend and good luck with the Friday commute!

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.

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 14, 2007

Your Thoughts on the Etiquette and Protocol of MUNI

A while back our friends at SFGate.com had some reader-inspired suggestions for MUNI manners.

Many of the suggestions mirrored ones I've thought about myself at times (i.e. proper behavior on a crowded bus, etc.). However there's one rule of etiquette and basic practicality that needs to be drummed into our fellow citizens' heads - let people off the bus or train first, so that you may board quicker.

It amazes me how people rush on to the train, as if they don't get on that train or bus they'll be left behind to be vanquished by the oncoming hordes of Vandals or something, not realizing that if they let the people getting off faster, they'll get on their precious train or bus faster. You'd think this would be obvious but every time I push to get off a downtown MUNI train or bus, I'm amazed.

What are some suggested MUNI manners you'd like to see? Submit them via the comments section below!

March 5, 2007

N-Judah Trivia Time: Which Supervisors Represent the N on the Board?

Trivia Question: Which members of our Esteemed Board of Supervisors represent the N-Judah line in City Hall?

Think about it for a moment.....and now the surprising answer!

Trivia Answer: More than you might think. I took a look at the map of Supervisorial Districts at City Hall's website, and while some were obvious, others were not. Here's the list, with notes, starting from Ocean Beach:

Continue reading "N-Judah Trivia Time: Which Supervisors Represent the N on the Board?" »

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 26, 2007

Hey! The NJC Got Mentioned In The Examiner!

If you read today's Examiner, you may have seen this story about the impending changes to our Mighty N and for once, they quoted me, instead of some insider. Woo hoo!

As for the subject - the impending change to the N's route to stop at Embarcadero and no longer go to Caltrain - I'm taking a wait and see approach. If, as it is claimed, it really does make the N run faster overall, well then I'm willing to put up with the hassle. When I commute I'm already making a switch to BART at Embarcadero, which is even more of a hassle sometimes than switching MUNI lines.

But I can imagine what a pain it would be for a daily commuter from SF to the Peninsula on Caltrain, and if the J's performance continues to suck like it has in the past, I'd be very nervous about that N-J-Caltrain switch.

If you're a daily commuter from SF to the Peninsula, and you see shenanigans once the switch is made, email us with your tales of woe, and we'll get the word out!


February 1, 2007

Your Questions Answered: MUNI Responds to Last Fall's Town Meeting

As you may recall, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi held a Town Hall Meeting on MUNI issues last fall. For those who attended, it was an interesting opportunity to address MUNI management directly, sans PR flacks or pre-canned responses. It ended up being quite a lively evening.

However, with so many people attending, not everyone's question could be answered in the time allotted, so Supervisor Mirkarimi collected the rest of the questions and had them submitted to MUNI officials, so that they'd be addressed by MUNI management.

Well, today in his office's newsletter, they released the answers to all those questions. (If you don't have Microsoft Word, you can
download a PDF I made of the document here.

I think it's nice when elected officials hold town hall meetings that are actual meetings where the public can ask any question they want, and hold our city's leaders accountable - instead of packaging some infomercial type meeting that's boring PR. I look forward to more such MUNI Town Hall Meetings in the future!

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!

November 13, 2006

A (Belated) MUNI Town Hall Report AKA Mr. Ford is Off the On Notice Board!

Sorry for the belated coverage of the MUNI Town Hall organized by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi - but the timing of the event, so close to events affected by my other job prevented me from writing a decent review of the meeting. And what a meeting it was!

It was notable, not just for the cool swag they were giving away, but also for the kind of straight talk MUNI riders have wanted from MUNI for some time. As such, The N-Judah Chronicles is now officially taking Mr. Nate Ford, General Manager of MUNI, off the goofy "On Notice" board we featured a while back.

Why? Simple - because he was willing to stand up on a stage at a community event, unfiltered by bureaucrats and spin-meisters, and give frank, informative answers to citizens' questions. That is all anyone really wants -and he was also willing to freely admit when he didn't know a solid answer to a question and would have MUNI department heads also get up in front of the group and answer some specifics as well.

Continue reading "A (Belated) MUNI Town Hall Report AKA Mr. Ford is Off the On Notice Board!" »

October 29, 2006

Town Hall Meeting on MUNI in District 5

Want to let Nate Ford, the MTA, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, and a whole host of Important Folks what you really think of your daily N-Judah ride? This week you'll have your chance at a Town Hall Meeting organized by Supervisor Mirkarimi's office, on Wednesday, November 1st at 7pm at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park at 9th and Lincoln.

This is a great chance to hear firsthand from the Important Folks what's up, and give unfiltered feedback to said folks. Supervisor Mirkarimi deserves credit for getting this meeting together. I will try and attend, but my day job will probably have me working late, so if you attend and want to report back to us here at the N-Judah headquarters, please do!

No word on if coyotes, sex acts or coyote sex acts will be discussed, as they were in Jake McGoldrick's district....

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 31, 2006

It's A Sunny Day Despite MUNI's Computer Woes

After a couple of weeks of less-than-stellar weather, it was a nice belated birthday present to see the sun come out here in the Inner Sunset. As Comcast Internet is down at home, it gave me yet another reason to get out of the house and post away at the Canvas Gallery, one of the many free WiFi spots here in the neighborhood.

Don't let those tales of MUNI woe or those mean folks on wheels get you down - get outside and get to the park and enjoy our remaining days of summer!

Also, loyal reader Steve Rhodes alerted me to the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema, which will be showing the short film N-Judah by Sam Green, on September 2nd. Apparently the short is available as a features on this DVD as well!

Thanks for the heads up, Steve!

July 7, 2006

NextBus Widgets for Mac OS X

Even though it's not complete, NextBus is still rather useful, particularly on our Mighty N-Judah line. It's especially useful where I live now, given that I'm just steps from an actual stop. Knowing when the train is coming early in the morning is a big help.

Firing up a web browser all the time though, is a hassle, and while I don't normally like the Dashboard function in OSX because it's such a memory hog sometimes, it has proven useful for calling up NextBus quickly, via two Widgets - NextBus Widget and NextMuni. I tried finding a similar widget for Yahoo Widgets (compatible with MS Windows and OS X) but I couldn't find one - if you know of one let me know!

Both are pretty good, but I'm giving extra bonus points to NextMuni, simply because the other one has a tendency to mysteriously crap out after a set period of time, and it's not shareware. I've reloaded it several times, done all the usual OSX geek maneuvers, and it still doesn't work. Plus the NextMuni one just looks cooler. So there.

Someone also makes a BART Widget, but I haven't really used it much.

Anyway, enjoy the great weather, and the World Cup finals!

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 21, 2006

When's the NextBus? Ask Your Web Browser. Don't Ask Muni.

Someone, please get Nate Ford on the phone (or email, or whatever). We have a some SF Muni Follies that need to be fixed, stat.

One of the things that makes certain lines, like our beloved N-Judah, easier and more convenient to use is of course the digital NextBus readouts, installed at key bus shelters up and down the line that tell you exactly when the next train or bus is scheduled to arrive.

It's great in general, but when it is pouring rain it's critical in helping you decide whether to ride out the storm a few minutes or go elsewhere and come back. Everyone likes it. So why the hell isn't it working anymore?

Continue reading "When's the NextBus? Ask Your Web Browser. Don't Ask Muni." »

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!

January 14, 2006

New Muni Policy AKA The Official Boning of the N-Judah

Just when you though things couldn't suck enough, what with the delays, jacked up fares, and whatnot, now comes what is surely to be the official boning of Muni and the N-Judah starting next week - they're actually closing the downtown subway starting at 10 p.m..

Now, of course, they tell us it's a yearlong project to "make Muni better." And while hate to join the ranks of the knee jerk cynics, it's really hard for me to believe these folks can really do anything to make things better. They've already paid an incredible amount of money to the incoming Muni director, Nathaniel Ford, who not only gets paid, but even if he gets fired STILL GETS PAID FOR SEVERAL YEARS MORE. And they keep finding ways to avoid real funding solutions for Muni in favor of screwing the fare-paying customer.

Now this. And of course, they're great at flashing this update on the few stops that have NextMuni installed, but they don't really know what they're doing. Just remember - whenever you read "subway service replaced by bus service" you might as well read "reliability thrown out the window and a crowded ride on a jerky bus."

SFist, one of the few online outlets for the kind of news that matters, has kindly provided an unofficial map showing the area to have what little reliability and usefulness tossed out like a morning log. They've also provided some predictions and suggestions for the new year-plus state of affairs for downtown Muni.

Needless to say, that chance to take an extended work assignment out of town is starting to look good. Frankly I don't wanna be here for the total boning of my beloved N-Judah. The least Muni could do before this giant municipal screw job is buy us all dinner first. At least then we'd feel better in the morning, waiting for our "buses."

(Special Note: It's nice to see that some media outlets in this town can provide relevant commentary and notes to things that matter. Unlike the whiny, useless Bay Guardian, or the sophomoric and equally useless SF Weekly, at least SFist tries. And these guys aren't paid nearly as much as the community-college dropout writers at the big weeklies.)

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.

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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