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Muni: The Good, The Bad, The Blogs and the T-Shirts

Muni, the great equalizer: It connects our neighborhoods, forces us to interact with strangers, and often makes us crazy. For better or worse, it’s the glue that holds this town together.

THE GOOD

1. In June, the Clipper card replaced the TransLink. This all-inclusive transit card—good on Muni, BART, AC Transit, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry—lets you load up to $300 worth of fare and skip the hassle of purchasing monthly passes.

2. When it’s completed in 2018, the Central Subway Project will extend the existing T–Third Street light rail from the Caltrain Terminal in SoMa to Union Square and Chinatown via Fourth Street, relieving bus congestion in these areas.

3. By 2020, Muni has committed to run a zero-emissions fleet, a move that would replace older diesel vehicles with models that emit 95 percent less pollution and run much more quietly.

4. With eight different modes of transport, from alternative-fuel vehicles to cable cars, Muni’s fleet is one of the most diverse in the world.

5. Like any imperfect institution, Muni inspires its share of art—paintings, blogs, stories—and romance. About 10 “Missed Connections” posted on Craigslist each week involve Muni love at first sight.

THE BAD

1. Last spring, Muni reduced service on more than 20 routes, resulting in later start times, earlier end times and longer waits.

2. Unlike other transit agencies, Muni employs no part-time drivers, and it also has a 15 percent absenteeism rate (compared to 6 percent in the L.A. and Atlanta transit systems), so it ends up paying an inordinate amount of overtime and wasteful “standby time” to full-timers. Last year, Muni spent more than $31 million on overtime pay.

3. We all know the Muni Shuffle: Head belowground only to find you don’t have enough loose change for the $2 fare. The turnstiles don’t take dollar bills. Ask the turnstile agent for change; she can’t give you any. She directs you to the change machine—which is invariably out of order. Head upstairs to the drugstore to buy gum and get quarters. Wait. You only have $2.50. Search out ATM and withdraw a $20 (with a $2 withdrawal fee), then return to the drugstore to buy gum and get quarters. Head back underground convinced you should buy a pass, even though you only ride occasionally. The turnstile agent can’t sell you a pass. They’re only sold at various neighborhood stores (check sfmta.org) and at cable car kiosks. Come aboveground at Powell station determined to buy pass. But the line at the Powell Street cable car kiosk is 30 tourists long, and you’re now 30 minutes late. Walk away defeated—until next time.

THE BLOGS


The N-Judah Chronicles: Greg Dewar, a regular N-Judah rider, is perhaps the city’s best Muni watchdog. More than just a rant, the site includes photos, news, practical tips and Dewar’s well-informed suggestions for system-wide changes.

Man vs. Muni: With an infallible faith in Muni transit and a pledge to ride all 80 lines in 80 days, one blogger chronicles his journeys via photo editorials. manvsmuni.com

Muni Diaries
: A collection of short stories, found items, missed connections and telling photos inspired by Muni.

Rescue Muni: The online home of SF’s main transit riders association, which holds regular meetings and advocates better customer service.

Transbay Blog: A detailed blog following Bay Area transit projects and the part local urban planning plays in them.

AND THE T-SHIRTS
With more locally designed T-shirts than you can shake a monthly pass at, you can wear your Muni frustration—or survior’s pride—on your sleeve.

Amos Goldbaum’s T is wearable art. $25 across from Ferry Building on Saturdays or amosgoldbaum.com

In Phallen’s line of Muni tees, “J” stands for jacked, “L” for late, and “M” for maybe. $22.95 at zazzle.com

Munishirts by Walter come in dozens of styles. $20 at 877-809-1659 or cafepress.com/walnotes

Headline Shirt’s out-of-control 22 Fillmore T packs a punch. $19 at headlineshirts.net