Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Today's MUNI diary

I awoke to wet roads this AM and had to assess my commute. My rain bike is currently DOA, I have yet to acquire a "better" rain bike a.k.a. a cyclocross bike, and I didn't feel like slogging it out on the Mountain Bike, so I decided to take the 48 to Caltrain today.

I remember something noteworthy from maybe 50% of my commute rides, and it's probably only that high because almost all rides that consist of riding all the way to work from SF (50 miles) are noteworthy for the ride itself, not something goofy that happened on the way (though sometimes noteworthy things happen, like the thugs in East Palo Alto passing alerts about a cop coming by on their Nextel phones). However, a MUNI ride almost always provides fodder for thought.

Nextbus is a great thing, and I managed to find a bus leaving in 10 minutes from the time I handed my son to my wife. I threw on some clothes and wandered down to the stop. On the way, I noticed that they are now making children out of sugar.

I better check my son out. Apparently they started making chi... on Twitpic

The traffic dropping kids off at Alvarado School backed up for 3 blocks on Douglass. There was probably a similar backup on Eureka, though I didn't check. There is the possibility that normally traffic splits up between Douglass and Eureka, but on a rainy day we can't have the kids walking an extra 100 yards in the rain, given they are made of sugar. But the most likely scenario is simply that more people drove their kids to school today because we had a light drizzle in San Francisco, and they were afraid their kids would melt. I certainly saw fewer than normal amounts of people walking their kids to school.

Maybe the problem isn't that the kids would melt. The kids are usually accompanied by adults. Maybe the parents were afraid that they would melt. Noe Valley has more than their share of people who bike their kids to school on the trail-a-bike, but we have plenty of softies as well.

Thinking more about *who* I see walking the kids to school on a daily basis, the problem might be even more complex. Once again, this is Noe Valley. We have a strange phenomenon - crunchy granola type-A moms. They don't drive their kids to school - their kids walk to school. And their kids are accompanied on their walk to school by their nannies, who take the bus from the Mission. Anyone paying attention to MUNI lately could see that taking MUNI has become a bit of an adventure lately. Perhaps the traffic can be explained by crunchy granola type-A moms driving their kids to school because the nanny is late because the J-Church is made of sugar.

Anywho, back to me. I looked up at the Nextbus sign on the stop - 2 minutes. Perfect. I looked back up 2 minutes later - 2 minutes. 2 minutes later, the bus had apparently progressed 1 minutes worth of distance on the GPS. Is the 48 made of sugar? Then I looked up the street at the still backed up school dropoff traffic, and made a note of the cars darting out of the double parked line into the opposite travel lane. Great. I avoided the meltdown that is the MUNI underground only to be foiled by triple parked Noe Valley moms gridlocking the 48.

When the 48 eventually arrived, it was packed. Unusual as the 48 doesn't really start to jam up until 24th and Douglass. As we pushed into Noe Valley and the bus got more crowded, it was clear there hadn't been a bus for a while. Maybe I need "lastbus" - that will tell me how long it's been since the last bus has come through, so I can go back to sleep and wait for a less crowded bus. I'm not made of sugar so I don't mind a crowded bus, but a crowded bus makes awful time and I was going to miss the Caltrain.

The bus was really jamming up and people in the front started yelling MOVE BACK. This apparently was lost on two gentlemen towards the back that were doing the Larry Craig and taking a "wide stance", filling a spot that could serve 6 people or so, and blocking an empty seat. I barrelled through and took the seat to try to allow more people on the bus (Nextbus was showing 30 minutes to the next bus). This allowed me to overhear my wide standing friends discuss the wonderful new BART connector to Oakland Airport, and how one of them worked for a contractor who was probably going to get one of the contracts. Figures - selfishly taking tax dollars for a ridiculous project, and selfishly leaving 4 people at the bus shelter at 24th/Church while they spread out in style (until getting off 1 block later at Dolores!)

Despite all the hullabaloo the 12 or so of us who were destined for Caltrain were safely delivered at 22nd St Station one minute late. About 5 blocks away from the station, people started doing their "get my 8 ride ready for quick validation" dance. It looked like we might actually make the train when a double parked kiss and rider blocked the bus from making the right onto 22nd St. ARGH. We darted out of the bus and ran down the stairs, screaming at the conductor who waved and screamed back "WE'LL WAIT, I'LL VALIDATE YOU ON BOARD". MUNI vs. Caltrain in a nutshell.


Yokota Fritz said...

You shoulda continued the sugar theme with the kiss goodbye rider.

It's not really clear: Did you guys make the train or not?

cc said...

delicious post! I busted out my bag of chocolate just to savor it fully! Thanks for the sensible account, and linking to the streetsblog piece, which is getting its share of early dumb "rejoinders"... much obliged!

murphstahoe said...

Yes, we made the train. The conductor saw that 12 of us were headed down and held the door, and waved those needing to validate onto the train and validated them herself. Kudos to her.