- Yes, This Month Marks EIGHT Years Blogging all that is Muni...
- Who Wants to Charter a Historic Streetcar This Year?
- Our Neighbors at the "Yes We Can" House are Having a Book Fair!
- How Not To Run a Transit Agency That Always Pleads Poverty: Case #237,821 at the SFMTA
- Let's Compare: SF MTA and LA MTA On Cell Phone Service UPDATE!
- Reader Mail - International Edition!
- SF's Newest Source of Sustainable Public Power: Whining About Sunday Meters!
- Muni 2013. NOW What?!?
- Breaking the Holiday Hiatus for 2 Community Events
- Reader Mail: A Rather Hellish Commute During Today's Storm
- Where Are The Good Parties on Election Night?
- Celebrate the Giants Win and the Upcoming Election With...Yet Another N Judah Shutdown This Weekend!
- What The Heck Happened Yesterday, Muni?
- Tech-y People Gather to Fix Transit at Reroute/SF This Weekend!
- So How Are You Gettting Around On This Busy Weekend?
Loyal Readers: Today (sort of ) marks the EIGHTH anniversary of this blog. Yes, you read that right. EIGHT YEARS. And yet you also read why I havent been updating in a while Thats because when I read tales of Muni and the SFMTA I read a consistent pattern of failure. Frankly, writing and trying to right these wrongs in the media and in our dysfunctional City government gets tiresome after a while. Later on, it gets futile. Also, the time suck and the quick and easy of Instagram and Twitter allow one to get lazy about writing in depth, respectable writing. Thats not an excuse, thats just how it is. I recognize the problem and am working to correct it. All said, its been 8 years. Id urge you to buy something at the store for now and know that while Id been away for a while, its time I came back and weighed in on the many issues that face Our City and Our Municipal Railway. Sorry I was away for too long. -GSD
If youve never been on a "charter" ride on Munis network of rails, youre really missing out on a fun afternoon. Last year I had the opportunity to participate in a ride via Market Street Railway celebrating Munis 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. Theres 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 theres only a few that cant 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 SFMTAs CEO, I told him that the moment they "legalize" the boat tram, Id be down at cash-strapped Muni with a big bag of cash with a dollar sign on it, and sign up for one. Im serious, and now I would like to gauge if theres interest in such a charter ride. Also, its not unprecdented to do such a ride - after all theres photos online of people taking the "boat tram" through the Sunset Tunnel and Cole Valley, so technically its 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 Ill need to do some figuring on costs, since while Im happy to pony up the cash up front, Im no Rob Conway so I cant afford to pay for everyone to ride for free. For now, Id be interested in hearing from readers if a) theyd 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, Ill bring the boom box for the music!
The other day I got a note from my neighbor Barbara, one of the owners of the "Yes We Can" house located at 6th and Irving. A daily landmark for commuters passing through the Inner Sunset, Barbara and her husband, along with many neighbors, host community events at their home, which features a spacious back yard. Coming up in April, they will be hosting their annual "Book Blast," an opportunity for you to recycle your unwanted books and perhaps find something new to read. Details are as follows. This is a completely cash-free event, and as someone who has attended before, can be a lot of fun, and a great way to meet people in the Inner Sunset:
Were now collecting for the Inner Sunset Third Usually-Annual Book Blast. This year, the event will be a full weekend, Saturday/Sunday, APRIL 27 & 28 at the NW corner of Irving & Sixth; Noon until exhaustion. Feel free to drop books NOW at 1297 Sixth Ave. in our sheltered doorway, in bags/boxes, not too heavy to make my eyes pop out. If necessary, we can pick up your donations, just call. Wed love: kids books, fiction, dictionaries, books, psychology, science, cookbooks, travel, maps, books, videos, biographies, books, CDs, DVDs, books, paperbacks, history, and books! Please note: we canNOT accept text books, encyclopedias or magazines, unfortunately. This is not a charity event, or a swap and no money will be exchanged...It is our neighborhoods effort to recycle books. Leftover books will be donated to the SF Public Library for their annual fundraiser. Volunteers *very* welcome (err...needed!) Please call Barbara: 22.214.171.124Sounds fun!
In case you hadnt heard, the SFMTA, working on new ways to make your commute a pain in the ass, is pulling another one of its cuts in service at the end of March (ostensibly for "spring break.") While people who work for a living will be inconvenienced, the agency will save a grand total of $45,000. Out of a budget of_ $821 million_. $45,000 is not a lot of money. I mean, they could just simply fire one deadwood employee and have more than that to keep service running. My frustration with the SFMTA, as it has been for years, though is how this agency routinely plays the "we gots no money gimme more money" act when something like this is announced, and yet passes over way easier and better ways to "make money" that stare them right in the face? Case in point: The replacement of all of the streets signs in San Francisco with the new "upper/lowercase style (mandated, by the way, by the Federal government in case you were wondering why theyre doing that). Right now you can buy old street signs from the 1940s era at the Cable Car Museum. It occurred to me the other day that now theres a massive replacement of every single sign in town, surely said "obsolete" signs being pulled down now would be for sale there. I called over there, and alas, this isnt the case. Instead, theyll likely all be recycled or dumped in a landfill somewhere. This is a classic case of a missed opportunity. I have bought SF street signs from the Cable Car Museum in the past, and theyre not cheap. That said, if I could get say, an "Irving Street" sign, a "Judah Street" sign, and so on, Id easily pay $40-75 a piece. Heck, you could price them by popularity, and make a lot more than $45,000. Even better, do this all on line in the ALLEGED TECH CAPITAL OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM OR SO WE ARE TOLD. Isnt our mayor the "tech mayor" or something like that? Instead, were getting a service cut and told theres "no money" for basic service at the end of March. This is one of many missed opportunities. With all the people who are out there selling Muni themed merchandise, youd think by now, again in the TECH CAPITAL OF THE GALAZY OMG, Muni would make a few bucks (maybe $45,000?) selling t-shirts and other items online, Zazzle style. When I wore my T-Third t-shirt one day I could not _count_ the number of people who immediately asked "Where can I buy one?" (No, really, I dont wear it anymore because Im tired of having to tell them they cant.) Hell, _I_ could run this and I wouldnt need to have a six figure salary, personal chauffeur and the like. Oh wait, I already do. The point is not to get me a gig at the MTA, the point is that once again, low-hanging fruit like this (to borrow a phrase from my fundraising background) is passed by, due to excessive BS regulations at the City of SF, and because no one seems to see what they have right in front of them that could pull in a few extra bucks without a lot of overhead. More to the point, if we did things like this, we wouldnt have phony cuts like this "spring break" cut in service in March. Ah, well. _PS: Well, if Muni wont sell things online, then Ill fill the gap. Today (March 15th) you can use the code POTOGOLD at our Zazzle store, and you get 20% off select merchandise. Buy something today! Proceeds will go towards a charter ride on a historic streetcar if the N-Judah line is opened up once again to said streetcars. Ill publish a separate post on that shortly._
While Ive never understood the "need" for cell phone service in tunnels Deep Under The Earth, especialy since we got along without cell phones for decades, some people think this is a big deal. Thus, it was interesting to read news about cell phone service in the SFMTA subway and service on two lines of the LA MTA on the same day. It provides an interesting insight into how two different agencies take on the problem. First up: our SFMTA. The article in SFGate.com compares and contrasts Munis experiences trying to install service vs. BART (which obviously has more riders and tunnels, hence more interest from cell phone providers). In the end, we find that nothing is happening because no one will install the equipment on their dime, and Muni has "other priorities" (Like taking another 9 million dollars out of the general fund to appease North Beach residents regarding the bazillion dollar Central Subway.) As I stated before, personally I find it to be a minor irritation at best, although some riders have told me there is a legitimate safety issue - if theres an accident or other Big Incident, having some sort of way to communicate beyond the nominal system on the trains might not be a bad idea. What bothers me more is how clearly this is something that doesnt have to cost the agency any money, but theres a lot of talking and treating this like its the biggest math problem in the world, when its not. Why? Well read this article about cell service for the LA MTAs various subway lines. Not only have they found a provider to install the equipment necessary, the LA MTA wont just get the equipment for free - theyll be making a _minimum_ of $360,000 a year off of the system. Cell phone companies will pay to access the system (and who is going to want to miss out on such an opportunity to one-up the competition). It seems to me that even with Munis shorter tunnels, Ive got to believe in tech-heavy SF, such a system would be a money maker for everyone. Perhaps in LA, they spend less time appeasing the masses with endless "outreach" and spend more time getting things done than we do. Surely, we can do better. UPDATE: The LA MTA Board approved the contract to get cell service in stations on Feb. 28. Meanwhile the SFMTA spent $9 million local dollars to appease Sup. David Chius (loud) constituents regarding the tunnel boring equipment in his district. Thats $9 million being taken away from existing maintenance and needs for other lines. Way to go, San Francisco!
Believe it or not, despite writing a locally focused blog all about San Francisco, I have occasionally received mail from people from Far Away Elsewhere. For example, a while ago a group of fans from Europe of the TV show "Streets of San Francisco" looking for advice on how to find various locations on the program, as well as how to best navigate Muni. Yesterday I received an interesting email from Prague, Czech Republic from Reader Aude, who found the blog via The Google for an interesting reason - they are translating a book set in San Francisco, and found one passage difficult to decode, despite consulting both Google and Muni Maps. Read on:
Hi Greg! This is Aude, from the other side of the Atlantic :-) Ive never been to SF but Im currently translating into French a book youve maybe heard of since its set in your city, that is Homeboy, by Seth Morgan. At one point theres this sentence (in case (!!!!) you have the book its on p.80) which mentions the N Judah. Ive been trying to follow through the Muni web and Google maps, but must say Im at a loss. Here it is: _"He turned onto a side street and parked in its culdesac over the streetcar tunnel. He walked to the railing overlooking the tracks and leaned against a streetlamp that looked, in the swirling mist, like a giant dandelion atop a wrought iron stem. The N Judah car burst out between his legs, rattle-trapping down the cutbacks through the steep backyards, jiggling in its yellow windows like a corn in a popper newspapers, crossed legs, a woman applying lipstick. Scanning the gray density of buildings, Joe spotted the house on Treat Street by the police lights. They pulsed in the fog like red amoebas."_ Id have two questions, if youre kind enough to help. - First do you have an idea of where the character can be? It looks like Treat St is very short and quite far from the N Judah way. - Second, do you have an idea of what the cutbacks are here? Does the author mean this kind of tortuous, steep and narrow streets of San Francisco? (I cant imagine the tramway following a zig-zaggy way...) Thanks a lot for your help, I hope Ill make it one day to San Francisco and take the N Judah :-) All best from Praha, and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!This made an interesting puzzle. We know for a fact the N doesnt "cut through steep back yards" - that would more accurately describe the J-Church right before it arrives at Dolores Park. Likewise, neither Treat Street, nor Treat Avenue are near any streetcar/LRV lines either. Treat Avenue is within _semi_-walking distance from the J, but not like the way its described here. As for a cul-de-sac (or any spot above a tunnel vis a vis the N) the only place this could be describing would be somewhere above one of the entrances to the Sunset Tunnel (this book was written long before the N went to Caltrain). After much discussion, I told Aude that it was likely the author was taking some artistic license with San Francisco geography, much as Hollywood does when filming car chase scenes or having cable cars appear like they criss cross the City. What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments section!
After reading local Twitteratti for the past week, I think Ive discovered a truly renewable, non-polluting source of sustainable energy - the endless whining by people about paying for parking on Sundays! Well, that is, _if_ there was some way to harness it. Imagine the possiblities. San Francisco would become the worlds most dominant energy provider, and wed put all of the OPEC nations out of business. Seriously. On and on people are loudly whining about this like its a human rights violation on the level of a low level atrocity the UN usually intervenes in. One almost expects these aggreived souls to call Jimmy Carter to show up and provide relief, as he has in the past in truly troubled parts of the world. Memo to San Francisco: Calm The Frak Down. Its not the end of the world. Also: you are not entitled to free parking on public streets, and those of us who dont have a car have been seeing our fares on Muni go up and up, while auto parking continued to be subsidized. If you dont think it is, think of what would happen if the SFMTA decided to charge market rate, on a parity with private lots? Talk about a "human rights violation," eh? Before we go on, a shout out to the screamers - Im not unsympathetic to the plight of the motorist who gets a ton of tickets. I used to own a (big, gas guzzling luxury) car, and part of the reason the SFMTA is low on cash is because Im not getting tickets anymore. I also do not like the idea of using "parking tickets" as a revenue source (vs. using them as punishment for causing dangerous situations), something Ive said about a million times on this blog in the last 7+ years. Nor was I happy when a forgotten ticket escalated to almost $100 and the SFMTA went after my tax refund (yes, they will do this, and well discuss this in a future post). So there. That said, this is not an Armageddon for business owners. I say so because I live in a business district, the Inner Sunset, and I can say for certain what happens now - people park their cars after 6pm on Saturday and leave them in the "free" spots all along Irving Street until Monday morning. This not only reduces the number of spots available for people who might need a car whilst patronizing local businesses, but it also creates a lot of traffic when people are circling the neighborhood or double parking waiting for a spot. Just on the block I live on, what should be a neighborhood street starts to pile up with endless traffic, with the inevitable horn honking on par with a street in Manhattan. People need to realize that the only reason we didnt have metered parking on Sundays in the first place was because most businesses werent open on Sundays, so there was no point to it. In Not Very Religious San Francisco, thats changed, and people hogging the spots for 24 hours+ on Sunday isnt very conducive to business nowadays. If wed implemented demand based parking city-wide (which, ironically has _reduced_ the cost of parking in zones experimenting with it) we could manage this even better for those who actually need it. (those of you who are able to walk or whatever and instead drive a few blocks for a pack of cigarettes dont fall in this category). Sadly, the shrill sounds of a Tea Party-esque minority refuse to listen to, content to keep up the shrill. In the end, to make this work, the SFMTA _has_ to make Muni run more efficiently on Sundays, so for the most part this isnt the Big Issue everyones whines make it out to be. Thats not an impossible task, but it will only happen if Munis owners (you) make it a priority. Whining on blogs never changed anything, but putting pressure on the clown car that is City Hall sometimes works, and might even end up making a real difference that benefits everyone. A shocking concept, I know, especially in the City of Choose-Up-Siders, but again, not impossible. Really! Fun Fact: Los Angeles no longer has coin-only meters. You can pay with a credit or debit card, you dont need to use some stupid "app" that charges you an extra "fee," and theyll be doing more to manage parking in the future than we could hope for. They also are doing more to get people to ride buses, trains and their light rail system. Kinda puts SF and its alleged superiority to shame, doesnt it?
Muni 2013! NOW WHAT?!? A year ago, as I looked towards what 2012 might bring Muni, especially it being the systems 100th Anniversary, with some hope that the celebration of said anniversary might inspire Muni to move forward, and at least remind people why their mass transit system was a valuable asset worth fixing and enhancing. Boy was I wrong about that. While I enjoyed most of the celebrations Muni had, as did those who participated, overall, Muni took several steps backwards this year. The stalls in the tunnels have become a regular occurrence. The politicians still play political campaign games with Munis money - even though Mayor Newsom is long gone from the scene. People on the westside had the opportunity to elect a supervisor with one of the most comprehensive plans and understanding of all forms of transit (not just just Muni) - but instead chose to re-elect a failed supervisor whos more worried about the Grammy awards. We still have people who spend all the time on stupid blog comments running down Muni, not realizing that were ultimately the ones who will have to force change, not "them." To be sure there were some amazing things this year too. The ongoing expansion of the F-Line fleet, the successful run of the E-Embarcadero, the good faith efforts of many at the SFMTA to make things work, and so on made for some peaceful moments on the N and elsewhere. Despite the many, many weekends of bus service on the N, the tracks are finished and improvements made on the line got done, and theres a noticeable improvement as you ride from Duboce and Church outbound towards the Sunset. However, the most important news that could have a major impact on all forms of transit (Muni, roads, bikes, and so on) was also the news most overlooked by the public - the passage of State Senator Mark Lenos bill to allow counties to vote to raise the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) to the pre-Governor Doofinaor (Schwarzenegger) levels. Its hard to emphasize what a big deal this is. If San Franciscans one day chose to do this, it would mean locally-sourced funding for our transit system, and eliminate dependence on Sacramentos endless follies. Naturally, there is no proposal to vote on, not anything in front of us right now - just the ability to do so if we so choose. However, a properly written and administered VLF hike that had accountability to get things done (and not allow politicians to blow it on all on their re-election campaigns) would end a lot of the financial excuses the system has now. More importantly, it would put the question directly to the owner/riders - yes you want the system to run on time - are you willing to pay for it, or are you going to simply wait for Santa Claus to pay for it with unicorn dust? No matter what, State Sen. Lenos long time work on this issue deserves a high five, and Senator, if youre reading, next time youre in the Sunset I owe you a beer. That all said, to be honest, after writing about all this for over seven (!) years, I, too began to get a bit discouraged and wondered why I still write about all of this when I dont even get paid to do so. After a much needed break, Im back online and am looking forward to trying out some new things on the blog, as well as revamp the look and feel of it to something more befitting of the year 2013. As always, I welcome your emails of Muni triumphs and woe via the Reader Mail section, and always enjoy publishing the many Tales of Extreme Commuting those of you engage in every day to get where you need to go. Now that the folks at Flickr finally got their act together and have made uploading via mobile device a lot better, Im reviving the NJC Reader Photo Group where you and I can share our experiences via photo online. For now, keep the faith and help keep Muni accountable in 2013!
Rather than try and update haphazardly amongst the holidays and end of the year chores I have, I kinda went on hiatus. However, here are a few community events you should be aware of, since both are dedicated to improving life on the westsit. First, theres an event on Friday, December 14th for the Friends Of Larsen Park. The event is a fundraiser to help enhance the park, most notably by bringing back a jet plane to the park, as we had for so many years in the past. The event will be held at The Riptide, located at 3639 Taraval St (easy access via the L line!) and will have a raffle, t-shirts for sale, and drink specials. The event will also be the venue for Cammy Blackstone, one of Supervisor Carmen Chus legislative aides, so stop by and support the cause! Next, theres a community meeting on Saturday, the 15th at 10am for the N-Judah Turnaround Beautification Project. The event will be held at Francis Scott Key Elementary School auditorium, located at 1530 43rd Avenue (at Kirkham). This is a chance for neighbors and N-Judah riders to help enhance the turnaround and make it something that everyone can appreciate. Lunch will be provided, and there are activities for kids, so theres something for everyone. May city agencies will also be there, so if youd like to find out more, or offer your suggestions, be sure to check it out. I also want to congraultate the hard-working neighbors who put together the Inner Sunset Sunday Street Fairs this fall. They were a nice bonus to living in the Inner Sunset, and I hope we can continue this in the future as a community building event.
Todays commute was no fun for anyone, what with the storms making everything on the road (cars, buses, bikes, etc) difficult, to say the least. This morning I saw a lot of tweets with tales of mayhem, but this one from Reader Phuong, was particularly detailed. Knowing that a big storm was coming, I specifically delayed a meeting scheduled for today, and made sure I didnt need to go anywhere, since no matter how much one prepares, the first big storm of the year almost ensures a lot of problems, despite everyones best efforts. Anyway, heres Reader Phuongs commute:
https://twitter.com/sfmta_muni/status/274566420627591168 https://twitter.com/sfmta_muni/status/274569101261803521 ABOUT THIS. I got to Forest Hill Station this morning about 8:55, thinking I could get to work by 9:30. A 1-car M train entered the station and it was already packed. I managed to squeeze on, and another guy was behind me pressed against the door. I held on. 8:58am We started moving and suddenly we werent moving anymore. All of 100, maybe 150 feet into the tunnel the train slammed to a stop. 8:59AM The driver came onto the horn shortly after to explain that he had this train yesterday and that its a "bad train". His words. Apparently it has a tendency to throw its emergency brake on. The remainder of our 35 minutes underground, he left the speaker on, providing at least some levity. 9:04AM He reset the electronics. The doors popped open. I held on tightly to the bar while the guy behind me almost fell out when he was leaning against the door. It remained wide open for minutes while we clung to the bars, hoping the train didnt suddenly decide to start moving again. Jokes passed around the car, people who couldnt tweet the situation used the old-fashioned method of speaking their thoughts aloud, but eventually the doors closed again. 9:08AM From the front of the car, we start hearing a girl ask the driver if he could let us off--let her off. She wanted to get off. She needed to get off. But the doors were not going to open again, so dont hold your breath. Angry, and halfway to tears, she attempted to get at the emergency handle on the window to get out. Too bad she couldnt get to it. 9:10AM A mousy girl asks if anyone has a phone that can go online. Were about 70 feet underground. Sorry. 9:14AM We hear for the next several minutes the driver talking to someone from dispatch about what he had been doing and what he needed to do. Reset the electronics. Apologize to the riders. Explain again it was a bad train he had yesterday and had the same problems. His fixes yesterday arent fixing it anymore. The steps need to go down, and I watch my feet to see if Im going to be half-standing on nothing in a minute. Nothing happens. He announces again that he needs to reset the circuit breakers, and the steps will go down and the doors will open. I continue to brace myself, but it never happens. 9:20AM "What the FUCK are you doing?" says a gruff female voice. "You keep moving and its pissing me off." Its getting a little "Lord of the Flies" in here. 9:22AM The driver says that theyre going to hook up a train to ours and pull us back to the station. 9:24am An engineer walks into the tunnel and enters into the front of the train. The angry girl who wanted to get off attempts to get off. She is unsuccessful. The engineer departs. 9:25AM The train rumbles. The other train must be getting hooked up now. Our train lurches forward and people nearly fall over. 9:27am The engineer returns and this time announces that he needs to get to the middle. We all have to shove off to the sides so he can get to the middle where the electrical panel is. We cram off as best we can, things get tight. He reaches the panel and unscrews it, exposing the electronics inside. He checks that everything is in place and presses a button before before leaving us again. 9:29AM Another lurch forward and more people fall over. I notice the A/C has stopped running. https://twitter.com/phuongmai/status/274580005462368256 9:30AM A girl in the middle starts crying. Shes becoming claustrophobic. "Is there something we can do to make this better for you?" a kind man asks. "I just want to get off." We all do. But before that, we start moving forward again before suddenly coming to a halt. 9:32AM We finally start moving backwards toward the station. Only once again to stop. Everyone is annoyed now, and its getting warm. 9:33AM We are moving slowly back to Forest Hill Station. The ordeal takes a few more minutes. As we inch into the station, there are bewildered faces everywhere. The platform is packed. One of us remarks, "They better know this next train is for us." Laughter. 9:36AM Freedom! I inhale deeply. And suddenly the platform feels like it could sag under our additional weight. The platform keeps filling up and theres hardly any standing room. The train takes longer to just get out of the damn way. 9:38AM A 2-car L starts pulling into the station. Its packed. Old Chinese ladies elbow their way on somehow. One girl from my original train shoves her way on angrily, literally pushing a guy out of her way. I cant board. 9:41AM A 1-car T stalls before fully pulling into the station. If I can get on, I can get to work without a transfer. Non-elderly Chinese women elbow their way on. I guess they start early. I get within 3 feet of the doors this time. 9:43AM Another 1-car T pulls into the station. Im getting on this. Im getting on this and Im shoving everyone out of the way if I have to. I am an old Chinese lady. I glance to a girl to my left in a red jacket. She has been next to me since we got off our train and has missed them all just as I have. Im hopeful she gets on this one with me. Its not packed, not yet. I think about what kind of gesture it would be to hold out my hand and tell her, "Youre not missing another one." I do nothing. I make it. She doesnt. 10:07AM I make it to Van Ness Station. 10:11am Im completely out of the tunnel. 10:17AM I am at the 2nd and King stop. The air is fresh. Its raining, but it feels amazing to not be on Muni anymore.
In anticipation of Election Armageddon, 2012-style, Im trying to decide if I want to go out to a party somewhere, a bar, or just stay at home and have a couple of Fosters Lagers and twitter up the whole thing. Theres a few candidate parties Id like to attend but theyre rather spread out, and if youre taking Muni like me, that can make the night a bit of a chore. If you have any ideas, please, leave them in the comments!
The Giants won! Hooray! The Election is Almost Over! HOORAY! And the N-Judah will be shut down for rail and road repairs this weekend? (insert record scratch here) Yes, you read that right. Theyve still got more work to be done (If youve been anywhere near Carl and Stanyan you know this because of all of the colorful plastic barriers in place). So, without further delay, heres the official email from the SFMTA with details of this weekends fun: Carl Street Track Replacement Project Continues Weekend Construction: * Track Work West of Sunset Tunnel * Street Repaving on Carl Street at Cole, Shrader, Willard * and Stanyan Street Intersections * Work on Overhead Wire Poles along Carl Street * 7 P.M. FRIDAY, NOV. 2 THROUGH 5 A.M. ON MONDAY, NOV. 5, 2012* Here is an update on the continuing construction for the Carl Street Track Replacement Project which will provide: * New track for a smoother, faster ride on Muni * Bulbouts to enhance safety and boarding at N Judah Line stops * Curb and ramp upgrades * Water and sewer improvements * Street light pole replacement Work slated for the Nov. 2 Weekend: * Track repair between Carl Street and west of the Sunset Tunnel within the Muni right-of-way * Grinding and paving Carl Street at Cole, Shrader, Willard and Stanyan Street intersections, one intersection at a time * Work on the overhead wire poles at various locations along Carl Street * Track and street work will generate some noise, including jackhammering, during daytime hours over the weekend Street Closure and Street Parking Restrictions: Street will be closed on an as-needed basis at Cole, Shrader and Stanyan street intersections during street repaving Street parking will be temporarily unavailable near those intersections and around the working areas where overhead wire pole repair work takes place Mitigation Plan: If you live on the affected streets, please consider parking your car at an off-street garage or a parking lot such as UCSF Parking Garage and Kezar Stadium on Stanyan Street between Waller and Beulah streets. THE PROJECT WILL REIMBURSE YOU FOR PARKING CHARGES. Please submit your parking receipts for reimbursement to: SFMTA Carl St. Rail Replacement Project, One South Van Ness Avenue, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 Attn: Ha Nguyen. MUNI SERVICE * N Judah Rail Line will be shut down during the weekend * N bus will travel on Frederick Street The Church & Duboce Track and Street Improvement Project will continue to take place, which will require the J Church Line only to operate between Balboa Park and Market at Church Street WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION: * Construction crews and equipment will be on site during construction * Traffic control officers as well as police officers will direct traffic at critical intersections * Noise and dust will be controlled in adherence with City Codes * Electronic messaging boards will be used in affected areas to alert motorists and cyclists of detours * Local business will remain open during construction Construction dates have been coordinated between both the Church & Duboce and the Carl Street projects to minimize inconvenience to residents, businesses, Muni customers, motorists and bicyclists. THIS SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER OR OTHER UNFORESEEN CONDITIONS. The next shutdown on J and N Lines is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 16.
Yesterday our Giants played here at home at the first game of the World Series. Awesome! People chose to take transit home to watch the game, instead of driving like Muni said to. Awesome! Then the system decided to choke in ways we havent seen in a while. NOT AWESOME. I knew something was up when a friend of mine who wanted to watch the game with me at the Blackthorn on Irving wasnt around at the agreed to time. Then I got a text indicating that "something is up with Muni" and figured maybe it was just being slow. Then the Twitter exploded with tweets about stalls, a broken set of doors, and more. At first it seemed that the trains were just in manual mode (i.e. slower) but more and more people reported they were not able to get home. Several people reported being trapped on the train, with no information as to why they were stuck in the tunnel. All they knew was they were missing a great Giants game, and this reinforced the all-too-frequent "Muni sucks" meme. Worst of all, riders on the N were short turned after this incident, making them even later getting home. Now, I know and accept that things break down - heck when you have a backlog of maintenance like Muni does, inevitably things will break down - but its a bit hard for the average owner/rider to fathom how it is that Muni could pull off 3 days with many well-attended events (Fleet Week, Americas Cup and a ton of neighborhood events) without many problems, but cant handle a basic rush hour commute + a Giants game. I mean, WTF? This situation is a reminder that we need people at City Hall and the MTA and Muni who can be responsible with limited resources. Thus, it was quite aggravating to hear, on a day when we are reminded the system is literally falling to pieces, a few greedy politicians at City Hall want to use one-time grant money for giving away fake "free Muni" to the kiddos, instead of using to do something like, um, oh I dont know FIX THE DAMNED TRAINS AND BUSES. I think we have to call it like it is here - these greedy politicians (people like "Supervisor" David Campos) are proving that they are either too stupid or too greedy to understand how Muni works or how best to spend our money. Greedy David Campos doesnt really even care about fake "Free Muni" for the kids - this is just a stunt he can use, along with all that money hes raising from special interests - to boost his campaign for Assembly in 2014. Whats that you say? You didnt know that Greedy David Campos, who is running unopposed this year, is raising money for a campaign? And hes not even going to serve a full term if elected in 2014? Well now you do - and you can see why Stalin-style elections dont serve anyone well. No one can stand up to his politics of personal greed and his anti-Muni policies - he gets a walk, and he gets to dole out your money to a narrow faction of people in town hell need in 2014 to run for another office. Supervisors, naturally, are threatening to hold a hearing on this issue. You can bet that the greedy politicians and their apparatchniks at politically connected non-profits will be there for public comment to blather on about how we have to give the "gimmes" another goodie, even though we dont have the cash to operate the system properly. If youd like more reliable service, and would like to put a stake in the heart of greedy politics, send your Supervisor a note telling them just how stupid it is to take one-time grant money and blow it on a program thats all about politics, and not about making Muni better.
An array of groups around town are gathering this weekend at a "hackathon" to come up with new and interesting ways to use open data and more. The event, known as "ReRoute/SF" is being presented by Engine Advocacy in concert with Hattery Labs, the SF Mayors Office, and the SFMTA. Not only does it promise to be an interesting weekend, I have been chosen to be one of the judges for the event as well! Teams will be taking on various challenges, as outlined at the events site at re-route/SF, and will include trip planning, better use of available data, and rider feedback on current problems. All projects will be open source, and available to the public once the event is over. I am interested in seeing what the various teams come up with. While I dont think "apps" and the like are a cure-all for what ails transit in San Francisco, I continue to be impressed with what people can come up with using the endless creativity that exists out there, especially when its used for something useful, vs. yet another ad delivery platform. Ill write about the results on Sunday!
Its no surprise that were in the middle of the Weekend of Eleventy Billion People in SF. (If it is, you must have been asleep all this week). There are so many events going on, and about a million visitors expected to stop by in a city of less than a million to begin with, this is a really big test for Muni, BART, Caltrain, cabs, and bikes. The question remains - will this be the most amazing cluster-frak ever? Or will everyone come through? I decided to go see the Blue Angels over on Beach St. by the Municipal Pier on Friday. It was crowded and there was some traffic, but I never waited too long for a Muni train or bus on my way out there. (Side note: if you can, get an outdoor table at The Pub SF, and you can enjoy a beer or lunch while watching the show). After the show, we decided to take a long walk back through North Beach, and ended up just walking to Powell Station. The trains were definitely a bit more crowded than normal rush hour, but not much. Also, at Civic Center, the station had really good signage directing people to the special buses for the Americas Cup race, and other events. Whats been your experience? Describe tales of wonder or woe in the comments section!