Thursday, May 22, 2008

Counting on MUNI, mathematically speaking

Lots of exciting stuff is happening in the next few days and it's a three day weekend so MUNI might be slightly ridiculous.

If you're anything like me, you'll wait and wait for a bus, give up in a huff when it doesn't come and start walking. Of course, the bus I was waiting for passes me in between stops and then I look like a madwoman chasing a bus at fullspeed for two blocks.

This article mathematically proves why it's better to just wait. Guess you should pack a crossword puzzle or something.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

MUNI gets towed!

Cell phone cameras do no justice but this is a 49 getting towed at Van Ness, as seen from the 5.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oh, MUNI...

Guess what everyone?! I have a not-so-MUNI related (but still exciting) transit story and lots of ridiculousness as experienced on the M-Ocean View. Keep an eye out for those two.

But for now, a story.

A couple weekends ago I was down in the Mission and used my MUNI pass on BART. I usually keep my MUNI pass in a passholder thing, but it's sort of inconvenient on BART so I ended up just putting the pass in my back pocket.

Fast forward to Monday, I go to get on my morning bus and realize, "My pass is gone!" At first I thought I lost it, but then I realized I just forgot to take it out of my jeans pocket. Phew. Luckily Mr. 31BX and I are tight so he let me on, no problem.

On the ride to work, I hatch this terrific plan to photocopy my coworker's May pass and just stick it in my passholder. Of course I forget.

I leave downtown around 7:30 p.m. and decide to just be cool, get on my phone, flash my April pass with my thumb over the "APR" and go to the back of the bus. No problem, tons of people evade MUNI everyday.

Except that I hate lying and stealing, I'm not very good at it and my poker face is suspicious. So of course the bus driver yells at me. "Ma'am! What do you think you're doing?" Blergh.

I look down at my pass and gasp. "Oh no! I am so sorry." Of course my change purse is completely empty except for two one-dollar bills.

I sat down angry. I can't believe I had to pay TWO DOLLARS! I can't believe he wouldn't just let me on! I could have shown him a year's worth of passes!

So basically, I'm 0-2 in MUNI fare evasion. The first time, I was in college and lost my bus pass ID and tried to get on near Balboa Park. The driver yelled at me, made me pay and told me if I ever tried to do it again I would be prosecuted. Thankfully I wasn't.

And yet, people ride for free everyday. Life's mysteries.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

L - Taraval

Line: L - Taraval, Inbound
Date: April 12, 2008
Weather Conditions: Warm & Sunny

Time: 10:53 a.m.
First Stop: Wawona Street & 46th Avenue

Taking a break and gearing up.

Today is a beautiful day but the Outer Sunset is kind of a ghost town. My guesses for everyone's whereabouts are: the Zoo, Ocean Beach or eating brunch. An L is sitting at the stop but the driver won't let anyone on. As a non-regular train rider I'm sort of confused about where passengers are supposed to stand. On the little train island or near the bus shelter? An older man with a yellow shopping bag seems to be thinking the same thing; we both pace in between the two areas in case the train decides to move and we need to make a run for it. (Thinking about it now, I really doubt the old man would have run. I would probably have to be that idiot running to catch MUNI for the both of us.)

Yellow bag man checks out one of many ever present Sarah Marshall ads.

Some other people show up and stand on the train island. Around the stop there are two motels, Roberts Motel and Ocean Park Motel. There is a sign on Roberts Motel, "Sleep By The Sea."

Time: 10:57 a.m.

Yes! Finally the train looks like it's going to start. I head over to the island. Passengers are me, yellow bag man, a guy wearing an AIDS prevention shirt with a zoo visitor sticker , a middle aged runner with a newspaper and an old woman who reminds me of Aunt Edna from National Lampoon's Vacation. We file on the train. The driver does not check passes. Yellow bag man sits down in my normal seat. Oh no he didn't! He must feel my inner territorial rage because he gets up. I sit down. All is well.

We start rolling along. The train is air conditioned which feels great.

Time: 11:01 a.m.
Stop: 46th Avenue & Taraval Street

We come to a stop. On the left there is a burger place called Bashful Bull Too. (Apparently it's not so good.) A group of middle school girls gets on. One is wearing a purple shirt that says, "Make Love, Not War." We make eye contact and she gives me a weird look. I realize that my pen is hanging out of my mouth. The middle schoolers head to the second car.

Time: 11:02 a.m
Stop: 40th Avenue & Taraval Street

The car is very, very quiet. We pass a video store, SeaBee Liquor and a Walgreens. There are a lot of stores with signs in, what I think is, Chinese. There are quite a few older people on the train. I think it's interesting how visible old people are in the city. Or maybe I just notice them so it seems like there are a lot. In any case, it seems like elderly people in San Francisco are pretty mobile and do a lot of things. I'm not sure what they do, but they always seem to be going somewhere.

Time: 11:04 a.m.
Stop: Taraval Street & Sunset Boulevard

The driver comes on the loudspeaker, "It's, uhhh, Sunset Boulevard. The 29 is at Sunset Boulevard." I love the questioning tone in his voice. We cross the intersection and pass a judo institute.

At 35th Avenue we pass a Curves, causing me to wonder where on Earth there isn't a Curves. (I'm also wondering how it's possible to burn 500 calories in half an hour. I welcome any success stories you may have in the comments section.)

No joke, a whole store full. Stock up!

Time: 11:07 a.m.
Stop: Taraval Street & 30th Avenue

The driver speaks again, "It's, uh, 30th Avenue, I think. Yeah, it is." I am loving this driver. Not that this could really happen on the train, but I've always wondered what it would be like to be on a bus where the driver didn't know the route. If I wasn't in a hurry I'd probably be pretty amused.

Pretty lofty statement.

Time: 11:08 a.m.
Stop: Taraval Street & 24th Avenue

At 24th, the driver makes the best announcement, "Next stop is 22nd Avenue. There's a Walgreens." I love it! We pass Sunset Hydroponics; it brings good memories of 11th grade science class and budding lettuce plants.

The train is incredibly quiet. Everyone is sitting very still. Everyone must be sleeping in. There are no cars around us and no people on the sidewalk.

A Walgreens worth mentioning.

Time: 11:11 a.m.
Stop: Taraval Street & 19th Avenue

Someone breaks the dead silence and laughs in the second car.

At the 17th Avenue stop, the man across from me, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, stands up and waves to a woman on the street. She waves back and gets on the train. They move to the back. A middle aged woman sits down next to me very carefully. She crosses her hands in her lap. We pass a Brazilian jujitsu place and make a turn on 15th at Taraval.

Time: 11:15 a.m.
Stop: Ulloa Street & Forest Side Avenue

A man with a leprechaun tattoo on his calf gets out. We pass the house where I had my worst and last babysitting experience ever. Watching two fussy newborn twins, one of whom can't swallow and has to be tipped upside down to drink, is a wholly unpleasant experience. Trust me.

"We're approaching West Portal Station, the stairs are going up," says the driver. I really appreciate his good communication. Half the time I have no idea what the drivers are saying. We ease into the station very slowly.

Time: 11:18 a.m.
Stop: West Portal Station

Three men get on, two are wearing Giants attire. The guy behind me blows his nose. I turn around and see Hawaiian shirt man shaking his finger disapprovingly at the woman he's with.

The driver makes an announcement. "Forest Hill Station is next. I believe you can catch the 52 Excelsior there."

Taking MUNI to the game!

Time: 11:20 a.m.
Stop: Forest Hill Station

The guy across from me is reading the paper. The leprechaun tattoo guy sat in the same spot and was also reading the paper. The train is moving really fast. My seat partner is looking straight ahead, which is how she's been for the entire ride. I am impressed by her discipline. She is probably the best seat partner yet.

Time: 11:24 a.m.
Stop: Castro Station

Two men get on. One is young, one is old, both are wearing straw cowboy-looking hats. They are not together. What a funny coincidence.

Time: 11:25 a.m.
Stop: Church Street Station

One person gets on at Church, no one gets off.

The Giants guys are talking. The train is moving through the tunnel now so it's hard to eavesdrop, but I do hear, "Oh yeah, that's over in the East Bay," and "She slept with him?!"

The train is otherwise quiet. It's actually been a very boring ride, minus the driver. There haven't been too many people on the L today. Maybe people are walking or biking to get here and there because it's so sunny. Maybe they are out of town. Maybe they are hungover and still asleep. Hard to say.

This is the kind of old lady I want to be.

Time: 11:27 p.m.
Stop: Van Ness Station

My seat partner gets off. "Next stop is Civic Center, it's the first BART connection," says the driver. The wheels of the train are screeching.

I imagine she was headed to Dolores Park. Such a good day for frisbee.

Time: 11:29 a.m.
Stop: Civic Center Station

No one gets on and there aren't too many people waiting at the station. A baby in the front of the car makes a soft crying noise, but isn't crying. I look around, the Giants are gone.

Time: 11:30 a.m.
Stop: Powell Station

Most people get off at Powell. Now I know where the elderly like to hang out: The Mall. Blue socks woman sits next to me. I'm excited. There are some brochures in the plastic holders near the door. A girl picks one up and starts looking at it. I'm curious about what it's for.

What does it say?

Time: 11:32 a.m.
Stop: Montgomery Station

Ten people get out. Blue socks moves. I always wonder about this bus phenomenon. Sometimes when most people clear out of the bus, the person who is sitting next to you will get up and move somewhere else. I don't do this, but I always wonder the reasoning. Is it to be polite and give the other person space? Sometimes I think I did something wrong, making the person not want to sit next to me. I feel especially bad when I think we've made good bus seat partners. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I form unspoken (usually) relationships with seat partners, so I like to think about these things. Maybe people just like to sit alone.

A guy goes and picks up one of the brochures. I am totally curious now.

Time: 11:33 a.m.
Stop: Embarcadero Station

Finally the last stop. I gather up all of my stuff and go to get a brochure. I am the last person aboard. The driver comes on the loudspeaker and says, "Rise and shine, end of the line!" I appreciate the rhyme.

Once out of the train, I check out the brochure. It's for the Transit Effectiveness Project, which kind of seems like an oxymoron, but ok. It looks like MUNI wants our opinions in order to help "refine proposals to make MUNI service more reliable and efficient." As of now there are four meetings left and you can win a Fast Pass. Totally hit that.

Total Time: 40 minutes (approx.)
How I got there: 5 to 18
Where can you see more? HERE