I Might As Well Rename The Blog “The MUNI Demolition Derby Chronicles”….

BREAKING NEWS: MTA COO Ken McDonald announced his resignation today. Updates at the SF Appeal and Streetsblog SF.
Good grief…I knew something was up when on Twitter I started getting messages about a fleet of helicopters hovering over Market Street, and the first reports of yesterday’s big crash. Thanks to on scene pics from Violet Blue, Reader Jamison, the SF Appeal, and many more, we were able to see MUNI’s latest disaster.
Fortunately no one is dead (thank God), but it was a bit much to hear Mayor Newsom and Muni Chief Nate Ford plead the case that MUNI is safe when in both cases, it’s clear that people who were operating trains and buses perhaps should not have been doing so. And while you can always show statistics that indicate MUNI is “safe”, combining these wrecks with a rising criminal element, and you start to realize, no, it’s not. One has to wonder if we’re going to pay more in settlements than we ever saved with our “cuts.” Seriously, you can’t take a wrecking ball to the budget, fail to reform work rules that don’t allow the bad employees to be fired, and somehow expect everything to run just groovy.
But Mayor Newsom, and his handpicked MTA don’t seem to get that, nor do they care. Which is understandable – heck I find myself avoiding commute-time mayhem as much as possible these days, after being stranded downtown waiting for an N that never seems to show up on time.
Which leads me to this email from Reader X, who lives out by the Caltrain station, and reports what many of you have relayed to me on Twitter – the frustration of trying to get an N or a K/T from 4th and King inbound. I know for myself, whenever I’m returning from Palo Alto, inevitably I’ve got a long ride if I choose the N (which is why I often now take a bus up to Market and switch to the 71.) While I’m lucky personally to be able to choose from 3 bus lines and 1 Metro line to get home, not everyone is as fortunate, so having enough N trains is one of those ‘good ideas’ that get thrown in the circular file at MUNI hq.

Hi Greg,
Here’s one for ya!
The 2nd/King platform is about 500 feet away from the building where I live; as I approached it last night, a downtown-bound T/K was pulling in and I declined to run, opting to wait for the next train; I arrived at the overhead LED at 6:40 PM, with 18 minutes until the next downtown-bound T/K and 9 minutes until the next downtown-bound N-Judah, the latter of which never arrived.
In the 18 minutes until the arrival of the next train, the T/K, which I boarded at approximatly 6:55 PM, there were no less than six 2-car N-Judah trains headed for the CalTrain Depot, NONE of which turned around to conduct service in the opposite direction. The overhead LED kept changing the arrival time of the downtown-bound N-Judah, but it never arrived, making me wonder just how many N-Judah trains can be accommodated at the turnaround under I-280.
While underground on the outbound T/K, I noticed that the platforms were DANGEROUSLY crowded, presumably because many of those passengers were waiting on N-Judah trains.
I arrived at my destination (Church/Market Sts) at 7:15 PM, 15 minutes late for a dinner date, and after an unacceptable 35 minutes of “platform-to-platform” travel time. I sent a complaint to MUNI via their website, but I don’t hold out for any explanation; this was the same night that an SUV became sandwiched between two F-line streetcars on Market St because of an allegedly distracted driver, a much more serious problem.

I’ve actually known a few Loyal Readers who relied on an N or K/T connection to Caltrain that have given up and now drive or actually move, either somewhere else in the City or leave altogether. It’s particularly frustrating if you work late way down south and come home, only to find yourself waiting around or taking forever to get home.
Well that’s all for now. I’m taking advantage of the sun for a few hours and then going back to work here in the Inner Sunset. Later on, I’ll be posting about a whirlwind of free events available this weekend…

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8 Responses to I Might As Well Rename The Blog “The MUNI Demolition Derby Chronicles”….

  1. Joseph H says:

    “I’ve actually known a few Loyal Readers who relied on an N or K/T connection to Caltrain that have given up and now drive”
    Yup, I drive now.
    It actually works better and faster, if you can believe this mind-boggling hack, to stop at Milbrae, board BART, and catch an outbound N downtown.

  2. NoeValleyCat says:

    Nat Ford can say anything he wants, but the facts show that he’s presided over one of the worst periods in MUNI history. An actual decline in safety, budget, on-time performance, and you name it.
    I wonder how long it will be before someone falls off one of those “dangerously overcrowded” platforms into the path of a train. Will Nat try to reassure us again by patting our heads and saying, “There. There.”?

  3. Greg Dewar says:

    @joseph h: that sounds about right. My favorite is using Glen Park as my transit hub since the 44 drops me off at irving and 9th.
    Lately I have been going to Santa Clara County more often, so I end up usually taking Caltrain at some point. When it works , it ‘s great. It’s that last little bit that can be the snag.

  4. James says:

    Living steps away from Duboce Park and working down in Redwood City, I became well aware of this hangup. Door-to-door, my commute is 70 minutes, of which 30-40 minutes of it is spent on MUNI. Because of this, I’ve started driving to 22nd Street Caltrain on day’s I can’t afford to be late or miss my train. This is sad and unfortunately. While I’ve managed to figure out shortcuts (taking the 30/45 between Market and Caltrain to ride J/K/L/M lines at Church), still shouldn’t be necessary. I understand that the hunt for solutions is complex, but how bad does it have to get to admit things are pretty bad.

  5. jp says:

    I’ve stopped riding the N line home, because it’s awful at night. It’s usually fine in the morning, but waiting after hours in the Market St. stations for those mystery trains that work outside the computerized prediction announcements is a sucker’s game. These days I take the 6 from Transbay Terminal, as it almost always sticks pretty closely to the NextMUNI schedule and is easier to plan for. I have to walk a few blocks since the 6 only goes as far as 9th and Judah and I live a little past 15th, but I’m fine with a little exercise.

  6. @makfan says:

    I pretty much always switch to BART at Millbrae coming back home on Caltrain, or take the 30/45 up to Market. But I can take K, L or M to get the last little bit.
    Not sure if I’ll keep doing that once BART goes back to 20-minute headways at night and on Sundays, however. Too many times Caltrain hits Millbrae just after the train leaves.

  7. Chet Marlboro says:

    The N is still thrown out of whack every time there’s a baseball game. The trains all end up bunched up at one end of the line or the other. Sometimes I’m lucky and I arrive at the platform in time for six empty outbound trains to show up at once, while huge crowds wait at the inbound platform. If I’m unlucky it’s a 40 minute wait for a too-full outbound train while six empty trains whiz by the inbound platform.

  8. Mike says:

    “I’ve actually known a few Loyal Readers who relied on an N or K/T connection to Caltrain that have given up and now drive”
    That or started riding a bike. With the bike plan actually (almost) moving forward, I think we’ll see more people moving from MUNI to bikes – rather than from cars to bikes.
    Caltrain from 4th and King to Palo Alto: 30-35 mintues on the right train. Muni – you never know what you’re gonna get. I have to allow for 45 minutes travel time from Almo Square to 4th and King. On bike: 15-20 minutes. Oh, and the bike is free and good exercise.

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