Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to attend the MUNI Town Hall tonight!
This morning I read an interesting missive in the SF Chronicle about Yet Another Rude MUNI Driver – only this time it was not you or I , the average MUNI rider that was the victim of said MUNI Follies – now MUNI drivers are taking public time to use their PA system for partisan politics and insults!
As reported, a MUNI driver decided to attack Supervisor Chris Daly for the “crime” of riding the F-Line, and singled him out for ridicule to the other passengers. Now, whatever one feels about Mr. Daly, the fact is he is as entitled to a rudeness-free ride as the rest of us.
Thus, a MUNI driver making rude, false statements, for the entire car to hear, was simply uncalled for. It’s stupid, unprofessional, and wrong. It’d be stupid, unprofessional and wrong if the (well paid) MUNI driver did the same to any rider, be they Mayor Newsom, you, I or any other taxpayer/rider on the MUNI system. Is it too much to ask these folks to act like the professionals they claim to be? I guess so!
Supervisor Daly is lucky that he has the means to hold this bozo accountable. I just wish we as riders could get the same kind of service addressing rude, stupid, or incompetent MUNI employees as well. I don’t think it’s too much to ask well-paid public employees with large pensions to act in a civilized manner to all passengers, regardless of partisanship, race, sexual orientation, ZIP code, and the like.
I’m not holding my breath on this one though. Something tells me the some of the MUNI drivers these days don’t really care anymore, because, well they really don’t have to -and let’s face it, it’s not like the buses they have to drive are in the best of shape anymore.
This is too bad, because when you get great service from a pro operator, you realize how simple it is for people to act like a pro and everyone wins. Unfortunately the “bad apples” seem to be multiplying, as I hear similar stories from riders around the city every day.
Mr. Ford, are you listening? Unions, how about you? “Union labor” is supposed to mean the best quality workers with the highest standards. I use union businesses all the time and they seem to get it. Show us you’re better than this, gang!
UPDATE: Muni Executive Director Nate Ford spoke frankly to people at the MUNI Town Hall on 11/1 about the issue of driver courtesy, which was something of significant concern to the assembled crowd, and assured those in attendance that drivers who were rude to customers (any customers) would be investigated, as Mr. Daly requested in his situation. Most recently the union representing MUNI drivers not only defended rude, obnoxious behavior by their members, they have also taken more steps to attack Mr. Daly. Impressive!
Thus, we taxpayers have a union which works to ensure 25% of operators are not at work on any given day, now we have a union that also defends rude behavior. If they can stick it to a Supervisor, what chance do you or I have at getting good customer service? Think about that as you wait in the rain for your bus or MUNI train today.
Once again, the bad apples spoil the bunch. Unfortunately in this case, the leaders of the ATU are promoting the bad apples, and spoiling things for the good folks in their membership. The bad apples get the protection, the good folks don’t get squat out of their union leadership, and it’s the public that loses. Sad.
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If this was a private sector employee, he or she would probably get fired if Daly complained.
Unfortunately, I have been experiencing a rash of this kind of in appropriate behavior lately.
When I flew couple of weeks ago, as I was checking my luggage the agent helping the man at the adjacent counter commented on the fact that he smelled like cigarette smoke. I think the comment was “someone just had a cigarette”, accompanied by a wave of her hand. Although he did smell strongly like smoke, it seemed completely inappropriate to make such a comment about a customer.
Meanwhile, MY agent didn’t hear my flight number correctly and said to me “I don’t think we can help you, you’ve missed your flight!” I beg to differ, my flight doesn’t leave for 2 hours. And if I had missed my flight, is this the kind of treatment I would receive as an elite status customer of this airline?
The last time I shopped at Trader Joe’s, the checkout clerk commented that I bought “a lot.” What is that supposed to mean? Whether I am feeding just me or a family of 8, her job is to scan my items, not comment on the quantity.
Small talk is fine, but commenting on a customer’s appearance, purchases or whatever is in appropriate.
Excellent points, as always. If a person does not have the proper mental filters to think, “wait a minute, I’m about to do something stupid; I should probably stop now,” then driving a trolley probably isn’t an advisable line of work.
I find it hilarious that Chris Daly gets pissed that a MUNI driver said a few things that frankly alot of SF citizens think (politicians are out for one thing, keeping their pathetic jobs, period).
Rembember, this is the same dude that screams obsinities at anyone that disagrees with him… The fact is, if he rode MUNI on a regular basis, he would encounter much worst that this. And if that happened, he would be complaining about things (and maybe solving) things that us “regular” folks would like to see improve (late arrivals, being passed up, dirty buses, fare jumpers, etc).
Hm, what exactly would the Trader Joe’s checkout person talk about besides what you are buying that might not offend you? Weather? Just saying. (Unless the person said it with obvious disdain and disgust for some reason, it sounds like small talk to me.)
In defense of the MUNI drivers (and wow have I experienced rude and crazy ones – once saw an N-Judah driver stop the drive, walk to the back and proceed to chew out someone who had shown him his fast pass because, well, he didn’t have to show it, and it really pissed this guy off), remember that they see thousands of people every day and they are the ONLY human, public face that most of us see to MUNI. Add that to the fact that MUNI is currently in a not-so-great state of things with cleanliness and reliability and here you have the only human beings the MUNI puts out more than once every six months to communicate with the public. It’s customer service, and when the entire breadth of the city is your customer, well, I can’t blame you for being a little crazy after a few years.
That said, sure, I totally would prefer polite, friendly, helpful, and safe drivers. I think that will start to happen as other parts of the MUNI organization change. Good luck to MUNI on changing for the better. In the past two years it’s been on an obvious and sad decline.
I’ve come to believe that MUNI simply does not care how disrespectful its drivers are – period.
I ride the 29 daily to work into the Presidio. Unlike most routes, the 29 is really two, as every other bus actually goes into the Presidio. The others just stop at Baker Beach.
So, one morning, as I was waiting for the bus at Vicente and Sunset, two 29’s roll in back to back. The front bus was a Presidio bus, the rear Baker Beach. As the 29 approached the stop, she switched lanes and cruised on by. I got onto the Baker Beach bus and fortunately the driver was nice enough to catch up so I could switch to the Presidio 29 during a red light (wonderful that I have to run out in traffic to catch my bus). The Baker Beach driver as well as MUNI (who I had been on the phone with) told me to tell the driver not to skip my stop.
I did this, although I was frustrated and out of breath from having to run (which probably came across in my tone of voice). As soon as I did, the driver told me that I had an attitude problem and that unless I got off, the bus was going out of service. I didn’t challenge it, but called MUNI back again to file another report.
Two days later, she had the gall to ask me “if my attitude had improved.”
Despite the letter I recieved telling me that MUNI “values customer service”, I see her driving the route everyday. I can’t fathom employees of a private corporation a) not doing their job and b) being rude to their customers and getting to keep their job. It should have been grounds for immediate dismissal.
I continually wonder why I bother buying a pass each month. No one polices the riders boarding via the back door, and the chance of seeing a fare inspector is so low that it’s probably not even worth it anymore.
Here is an unfortunate newsflash.
I seriously doubt that any Muni operator will receive disciplinary measures as a result of rider calls. The driver’s union is much to strong and Muni is too desperate for drivers to let little things like customer complaints mean anything. Keep that in mind the next time you call…
If my memory serves me right not to long ago this city had a chance to make MUNI more accountable but like most things it got politicalized and didn’t get enough votes, I believe because we had a mayor we thought could handle the job he has now. But how I remember the days that you never knew if a bus was coming or not. And little by little I see those days coming back.