By now, you are bound to have seen one of MUNI’s fancy new hybrid buses around town. In my neighborhood they’ve been spotted on the 44 O’Shaughnessy and 29 Sunset lines, but they pop up with more frequency around town as more buses are introduced into the fleet.
I have tried these buses on several occaisions, either going to my favorite Chinese restaurant, Melisa’s over in the Richmond.
More recently, I rode several on the 29 Sunset line from beginning to end on a wonderfully sunny day, as part of a new feature that was to have debuted already (MuniTrekker), but sadly I had to shelve the photos since many of them didn’t come out as well as I would have liked. D’oh! Thus, I had to postpone the feature’s debut. But at least I got this shot of the interior of the bus. Woo hoo.
Generally, I have to say, as buses go, these are a lot better to ride in than your standard, lurchy-jerky-make-you-queasy MUNI bus, as you wind your way around town. These are much more stable, and they are easier to board for most people as they don’t have steps at the front and back door. An informal survey of bus drivers indicated that they found the new buses much easier to handle in traffic than the older models, and the view from the seats in the back (which are elevated) is quite nice. And there’s the fact that they are a lot quieter, as well.
The one caveat I’d offer, along with that piece of conventional wisdom called “low floor buses will make MUNI perfect” that people chant over and over, is this – yes it’s great that it’s a “low floor” bus, but the sacrifice is a significant loss in the number of senior and disabled seats at the front, not to mention that some modles of wheelchair may have a harder time getting in the disabled area, even though getting on is much easier without the steps. When there are not a lot of folks on board, this can be mitigated a little, but when it gets crowded it could be trickier.
I’ve never been one to worship at the temple of Hybrids Are Superior To Everything, but I have to say, given how lousy the ride usually is on a regular MUNI bus, the prospect of a better ride is quite appealing. If it saves some money on the diesel bill and pollution, that’s lovely as well.
If you’ve ridden a hybrid bus and have a comment, please post in the comments section!