What Was UP with MUNI Yesterday? UPDATED!

Yesterday around rush hour, I started noticing a lot of talk on Twitter that MUNI was having a particularly bad day yesterday, thanks to reports from some of the Loyal Readers and Loyal Twitterfriends. I’ve been experimenting with relaying these on-the-scene reports exclusively as re-tweets on Twitter to see how well that works, and because it’s easier than trying to update entries when I’m away from the computer and on the semi-reliable iPhone.
In particular, Reader Halsted was stuck downtown and provided some pretty interesting observations as about a bazillion KLMs and Js passed by, but Ns, being the most used trains, were nowhere to be found. (Thanks, Halsted!) Others also did as well, and the picture painted (pixelated?) was one of what is becoming far too common – Muni just seizes up at the one time of the day you’d think they’d try and have it work.
Anyway, I’m almost done with the Twitter experiment – you can see updates in the update window to your right here on the site, and you can always follow me on twitter at @njudah for now. I’m still wondering if this is a good thing at getting the word out fast enough for people, or not. So far it seems to work well, but I also know not everyone is thrilled with Twitter, and I don’t like leaving anyone out. I’m always open to suggestions on how to better post content as well as I work on redesigning the site (finally!) and want to have ways for people to participate besides commenting.
UPDATE: OMG! Right after I posted this, I got an email from the Mayor’s office bragging about how MUNI is on time more than ever. No, really!
This is an example of how stats don’t tell the whole story – they can quote all the stats they want but if you can’t reasonably expect to get home from work (like what happened to most people on the N yesterday) , all the percentages in the world don’t matter because at that moment, you’re stranded. Fine if you’re single and don’t mind, but if you have a family, or are just single and have ANYTHING else to do besides whistle and wait for Muni, you’re outta luck.

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17 Responses to What Was UP with MUNI Yesterday? UPDATED!

  1. @makfan says:

    I think it is telling that when I served jury duty and one member of the jury was a few minutes late, the judge asked if she had been stuck underground.

  2. Tom Tobin says:

    I left downtown at 5:40, on one of the last N’s out of town. In fact, only N’s were going outbound.
    From the display in Embarcadero station, the inbound track past the switch was red – closed off (for some reason). That left all inbound trains backed up as they had an N at the head of the Embarcadero platform, unable to escape out the tunnel, and all other trains stacking up behind it. When I left, the Embarcadero inbound platform was full of trains, and they were stacking up at Montgomery and Powell. Other lines were unable to get to the turnaround past the stuck N.
    They must have got rid of the N somehow, and then turned around the other trains gradually (as the K,L,M went by). But the N’s then had to go to Caltrain, wait for driver rest, then head back after 30 or 40 minutes, leaving no outbound trains for a while.
    I didn’t see a note on 511.
    I don’t know why they didn’t bring trains straight onto the outbound platform (rather than using the turnaround), nor why N’s were not turned around at Embarcadero, nor why some Ls or Ts were not turned into Ns.
    The lack of a flexible response seems be a bigger reflection of another problem I’ve seen, where if there are 3 inbound N’s in a row, they will turn around the 3rd one at Embarcadero, leaving those people stranded, rather than the 2nd one (putting them on a train in 3 minutes, and leaving the 1st one go free).

  3. synapse says:

    I would enjoy subscribing to your twitter stream if it were restricted to N-Judah news instead of being mixed up with your personal tweets.

  4. Greg says:

    @synapse: That’s actually going to happen soon enough, now that I’ve gotten a twitter client on the go that can handle multiple accounts…

  5. Bob Davis says:

    This N=0 episode reminds me of the time I was visiting MuniLand and waiting for a “J” car at Embarcadero. Two or three trains representing every letter in the Muni alphabet loaded and left, but “J’s” were notably absent. Finally I knocked on the door of the supervisor’s office, and brought this to his attention. He came out on the platform, and when the next train arrived and unloaded, he told the operator “You’re a ‘J’.” The operator changed his headsign, moved to the outbound track, along with several other folks who had been waiting to “go to Church”, I got on board. Sometimes it pays to speak up.

  6. Alex says:

    @Bob That’s his freaking job! Why wasn’t he paying attention in the first place?

  7. Jinxie says:

    How timely that I’m reading this as I wait for my N. And when I say “wait”, I mean WAIT. Eta for next trains are 17, 19, and 21 minutes, at 8:30 on a weekday morning. Flippin’ ridiculous.

  8. Greg says:

    This screwing of N riders is common. My current experience is for nights but I had the same during experience during the day. I work nights and head to work at 1 pm every day and get out at 10. EEEEEEEEEEEVERY DAY at 1 pm I am lucky if a N comes on time-when it does it usually comes 5 mins BEFORE nextbus says. I say okay the next train is coming in 15 i’ll have to wait-then without the next train comes(lucky for me I live right on the line and can see it coming from my window). At night its worse. I can get to powell wait…and wait…and wait…and wait. While I watch M’s and L’s and K..after K…after K…J..after J go by. One DAY NOT NIGHT BUT DAY I watched as count them 10-yes 10 L’s went by before a NN came 10 FREAKING L!!!!!That’s not counting the MM’s. Like there isn’t ENOUGH ways to get to castro. My favorite is when they annouce next train NN in 4 mins. Then they split it up to make TWO MORE FREAKING M’S OR L’S when 5 just passed by and the NN that was supposed to be doesn’t come for another 15 mins. Makes no sense being as anyone who actually rides the trians will tell you that NN is easily the busiest-but obviously the most disrepected. Is it because it leads to nice niegborhoods so we are hated on? I just don’t get it.

  9. anonymouse says:

    Is it common practice for dispatchers at Embracadero to reassign runs on the fly? Switching trains between J/L/M at least, and possibly K and N too if need be.

  10. Alex says:

    @mouse Not common enough. I watched a procession of about five outbound Ls in a row go by as I walked from 32nd to West Portal this afternoon…

  11. Bob Davis says:

    As I recall, the “You’re a J” episode may have been on a weekend, and it was several years ago. And Alex, you’re right, it shouldn’t be necessary for visiting streetcar enthusiasts to tell Muni how to run their railway, but sometimes they need a little nudge. We’ll never know, but I suspect some of the people who ran the old Market Street Ry. in the pre-1944 days are turning over in their graves quite frequently. I remember when Muni through-routed the N and the T, and only ran rush hour J’s to Caltrain. I found some people patiently waiting at the Caltrain platform around 10:30 AM one morning; they hadn’t noticed the rather poorly placed signs advising that they’d be waiting until about 3 PM before a car showed up. I got them pointed to the Fourth St. platform and onto an N. Fortunately this routing was short-lived.

  12. Alex says:

    @Bob I don’t disagree in the slightest. A (not-so gentle) nudge is often needed. But with countless examples of just how inept the supervisors are, I don’t feel like nudging, I feel like screaming. Add to the equation that the MTA wants to hire more supes, and I don’t know… I wish they would start by training the ones they do have.
    Remember when the supervisors walked out on the job a few years ago? The week prior, it had reliably taken me 10 minutes to get through West Portal in either direction. When they walked out, I had the smoothest commutes I’d seen in a very long time.
    As for 4th and King, yup it was and still is a disaster. I remember going out there one weekend shortly after the T opened. I waited on the King St platform with a few lost souls. I saw the NextBus signs count down, and restart. Over and over I watched the NextBus signs. And then I remembered that the J only ran to Caltrain on weekdays, and that the T didn’t stop on the King St platform, it stopped on 4th Street. Yeah, sure, I’m not the most observant person in the world. I imagine that the other people on the platform who had all been there prior to my arrival felt worse.

  13. comment says:

    Greg, you have to know that Muni is not an acronym, thus it is Muni not MUNI.

  14. Greg says:

    So I have to tell you-today the 3rd I am sitting here looking at the train times for the N. At 1 pm it said no trains until 27 min..okay…so then at 1:14 pm…oh guess happens? it suddenly says train in 1 min NICE JOB MUNI TO SCREW RIDERS AT THE LAST SECOND MAKING THEM LATE FOR WORK! Dude ride the N more. You’d see this a lot. So now instead of getting a 1:20 train (i should have caught the 1:15 train) like nextbus said-i’ll be catching a 1:30 train. Making me even MORE late for work. Oh did i mention they switched a N to a J as i sat here and watched. Nice F’ing job muni.

  15. Greg says:

    Alex I know that but I am writing it as YELLING. Second you must work for MUNI.

  16. Greg says:

    @comment: duh, I was just trying to add emphasis. It’s an easy mistake to make simply because the logo’s in all caps
    @Other Greg: I’m all for spirited discussion, but can we please lay off the personal accusations?

  17. Bob Davis says:

    I’m not sure I should tell this to the beleaguered citizens/victims of MuniLand, but here goes: A fellow railfan who spends a lot of time in Dallas was telling me how well DART (the local transit operator) runs. He commented on the light-rail trains running smoothly, and said “Even the buses run on time.” I realize that in a political quagmire like San Francisco, this would never happen, but it sounds like the City should outsource Muni to DART.

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