Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Will Mayor Ed Lee Fix San Francisco's "Cute" (Terrible) Muni System?

'I never saw so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Bohemians in my life' -- Oscar Wilde, 1882, at San Francisco Bohemian Club."The Municipal Transportation Agency—and residents' love-hate relationship with the notoriously late and overcrowded public transit system—has been the bane of many mayors, with current Chronicle columnist and former Mayor Willie Brown once famously saying he would fix Muni in 100 days. That was in 1995."
Even though San Francisco has the only real public-transit system of the Western United States, it's still kind of a mess. It's also what New Yorkers talk about during the three months they spend shivering in the frozen dark of winter: "Oh but that Muni system, that's why I could never live in a beautiful coastal city where it never gets cold but ladies can still always wear boots and gentlemen can always wear a suit without being sweaty." Anyway, surprisingly successful Mayor Ed Lee (he got Twitter and a bunch of other fancy tech firms to move to the former abandoned hobo land of Mid-Market) just announced he's going to "fix" Muni.

Photo by Torbakhopper.

14 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#1,720)

As a man taking the bus to work right now while living in LA, please keep misleading people about our transit! If more people knew how reliable it is they'd move here and fuck it all up.

What, are you kidding? San Francisco can't have a good transit system because the people there mostly drive, and they don't go downtown. Believe it or not the transit in LA is far better.

Jinxie (#240,695)

@Marvin B. Gavorshnik@facebook Really? That is not at all true, in my experience. I can count on one hand (and have at least one finger to spare) how many people I know in town who own a car, let alone use it to commute to work every day. Our "downtown" (the Financial District, mostly) is, indeed, a huge hub for business. It's a geographically small area compared to business districts in other cities (my town is only 7×7 miles, though), but it's very densely packed.
I don't disagree that we can't have a truly good transit system, though, if only because people have been trying to fix it for decades with little to no success.

Greg Dewar (#5,128)

@Marvin B. Gavorshnik@facebook That's so completely false, it's clear you have no idea what you're talking about.

Multiphasic (#411)

Run the N express and elevated. Run another elevated down Geary. Have Purell sponsor the 14. Have everyone who boards the 43 and isn't an elderly Asian immediately shot. There, utopia.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

The one selling point of MUNI is that unlike the NYC Subway, very few people are killed by MUNI "Trains". It is very difficult to seriously injure people with a train traveling Three Miles an Hour.

Jinxie (#240,695)

@Lockheed Ventura Difficult, yes. Impossible? Nope!

jfruh (#713)

Haha San Francisco areans just try living carless in the Bay Area for 6 years and being all like "wah wah Muni was late and I had to stand up wah" and then move and attempt to live carless in motherfucking BALTIMORE. You WON'T BE LAUGHING THEN, assholes. You will YEARN for the N Judas and the L Terrible (does anyone else remember "Puni," the SF Weekly's Muni themed comic strip, it was great).

Still, I feel priviledged to have lived in town for the '98 "Muni meltdown," when a reporter on foot beat one on a train (and not on a train on the streetcar sections, on a train in the downtown subway tunnel), and then Willie Brown demanded they rerun the race with him on foot, and he kept stopping at a bunch of stores. #MEMORIES

Multiphasic (#411)

@jfruh I did ten months essentially carless in Baltimore. I pretended Hampden and Fed Hill didn't exist (which was a damn shame and a proper blessing, respectively) and otherwise lived and died by the circulators. (Also, FYI, nobody EVER checks for IDs on the Hopkins shuttles.)

As for PUNI, all I remember was the MUNI robbers–the rare times you get mugged, you're jumped by three at once.

jfruh (#713)

@Multiphasic oh, I'm all about the Hopkins shuttle, or, as I like to call it, the "white priviledge bus."

Multiphasic (#411)

@jfruh Ha! Yes. The Colonial Express. Heart of Dorkness.

ejcsanfran (#489)

"Surprisingly successful Mayor Ed Lee" – really? Look, I get that it's good to have more businesses setting up shop here in the City – though the fact that many younger workers no longer want to live in the 'burbs and don't especially want to commute there from SF is a big incentive for companies like Twitter to locate their HQ downtown.

But giving Twitter tax breaks of tens of millions of dollars to locate in SF? As with many such deals on local taxes, it's debatable as to what the City will actually see in the way of benefit. Having more IPO millionaires isn't going to help fix Muni.

I've always supported the idea of a downtown transit tax on businesses. They reap the benefit of (relatively) easy access by their employees and customers via Muni and BART, yet the cost of those systems is borne primarily by riders and local residents.

We like the author's idea of building a new city with all the jobs, entertainment and sports arenas in he Peninsula. Preserve San Francisco as it is and quit trying to tear it down. See the article "Is San Francisco The Brooklyn To Silicon Valley’s unbuilt Manhattan?"
We would love to hear more from Ken Layne. contact@sfenuf.org

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