Time to Mourn Your Favorite Muni Bus

Muni cutting lines, changing routes, but not really making life better for transit riders

By Owen Thomas
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 5:13 PM PDT
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Muni Passenger Stabbed

A Muni fight captured on YouTube seems to speak to riders' feelings about the transit service.

Photos and Videos

Muni Passenger Stabbed

A man who stabbed a woman on a San Francisco Municipal Railway train this morning resembles the suspect sought in the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy on a Muni bus in September, police said.

Muni Passenger Stabbed

A man who stabbed a woman on a San Francisco Municipal Railway train this morning resembles the suspect sought in the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy on a Muni bus in September, police said.
More Photos and Videos

Change is good, they say -- but Muni's service cuts are the exception to the rule.

Starting today, Muni will cut six lines and change dozens of others in San Francisco's largest-ever revamp of its public-transit network.

Already, passengers are mourning the lost lines on blogs like Muni Diaries and SFist.

Some of the obituaries are downright odd -- like the one claiming that the 20-Columbus line was "consistently friendly." Sure, right -- the 20-Columbus was the site of an infamous catfight which soared to YouTube fame.

As a Muni rider, I'm not that sympathetic to mournful riders of routes like the 26-Valencia, which paralleled the far more frequent 14-Mission and J-Church lines for much of its route. If you want something to complain about, how about the rerouting of the 10-Townsend? 

Eliminating the only line serving Levi's Plaza and the northern waterfront leaves North Beach and Telegraph Hill without a direct connection to the Financial District. If you want to get downtown, you might as well walk or bike, since it's faster than Muni's supposed alternatives.

Not that I'm bitter.

And parts of the City already poorly served by transit are taking hits, including public-housing projects in Potrero Hill and Bernal Heights.

So what are we gaining? Muni's massive reroute may shave its deficit down, but it does nothing to solve Muni's systemic problems, like the ridiculous work rules its union clings to, the too-frequent bus stops which slow down service, and the lack of a basic culture of civility among passengers.

Stabbings on the Muni are just an extreme example of the lawlessness that pervades the system -- an extreme form of the disdain for fellow passengers exhibited by fare evaders marching through the back doors of buses on Stockton Street.

Perhaps Muni's route map was overdue for rationalization. But since it's being delivered without any real improvements in the daily experience of transit users, how can it be seen as anything but another insult to Muni riders?

What do you think? Leave your thoughts on Muni changes in the comments.

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