Today we had a lovely “trial balloon” launched by our “Mayor,” and like most balloons in the news recently, is a hoax – a lovely, happy, feel good one, but a hoax nonetheless.
This one came in the form of a fanciful, vaguely thought out notion that we’re going to ban all traffic, including the many Muni lines that commute from the neighborhoods to the downtown, in favor of some sort of fanciful thruway dedicated to bikes, “pedestrians,” and I suppose all the magical creatures that would thrive in this new Nirvana By the Sea.
Now, nevermind that there’s no real study of such an idea, or that a vague line like “move it all to Mission,” created by some speechwriter, not a planner or engineer is not serious transit policy. And the fact this would kill off the popular F-Line and the MSR, among many other consequences are to be considered, but nevermind that just now.
As always, this is not a serious idea (think back to the days when the “Mayor” and the Supervisors wanted to de-fund Muni with this vague idea about making Muni “free”), and never will be. It’s just a “feel good” blast of the day that distracts you from all the Muni FAILs we’ve had lately, or the fact that riding the N and getting to work in less than an hour is as much of a myth as this one.
Instead, let’s take this, and all fanciful ideas our more psychedelic neighbors can come up with and take it to the next level. Forget banning Muni along Market Street – why not ban it entirely? Ban cars too, since they are Satan’s Vehicle of Choice. And bikes too – remember they are forged out of metals in the industrial fires of Hell, fueled by cute puppies and coal. (Shocking but true – bicycles are not all made of hemp).
Instead, I think we should fulfill all these fantasies by going to a unicorn/pony/rainbow/flying carpet system. Muni will no longer be short for Municipal Railway – it’ll be short for the Municipal Unicorn Transit System. You won’t wait for a mere tram to take you about – you’ll simply imagine a unicorn that will take to your destination, stress free.
If unicorns aren’t your fancy, there’ll be magic carpets for those who are going to a drum circle in the park with friends. Rainbows will be expressways to and from across town. And you’ll pay not a dime, because the City will impose taxes on leprechaun gold, wizard’s potions, and the legal marijuana that’s coming in 2010. There’ll be no more angst, I’ll change the name of this blog to the “Magical Man from Happyland” and I’ll report on the goings on at the newly renamed Gumdrop Lane.
If all of this sounds rather ridiculous, it should. But remember – dumb ideas created by speechwriters don’t always go away like silly blog posts. Bad political rhetoric in the 90s gave us the billion dollar boondoggle as the Central Subway. So beware of what you let your politicians wish for!
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I’m thinking this could be a really interesting long term plan.
– Re-route the rail lines and Market St traffic down to Mission at Octavia to Otis or maybe via Division so it’s a smooth run on to Mission from upper Market
– Market becomes a pedestrian/bicycle path with outdoor spaces, trees, plants, sidewalks, plazas, etc.
– More restaurants and business activity with increased pedestrian load and places for tables, stands, concessions
– Mission would be for F-Market trains and Muni buses, car traffic would be limited on Mission and pushed another block or two south on to the one-ways Howard and Folsom, where they should be anyway
– Mission as a greater transit corridor would be better aligned for Transbay Terminal and HSR
– Central downtown core traffic calming by moving cars out
– Opens up SOMA more as “downtown” keeps moving a bit more South
– Mission Street is only one block South of Market; no need to transfer to Muni Metro, encourages walking that one block, spreads out transit load across Market (subway) and Mission (surface)
Really, walking one block is a very small-effort way of getting overall health gain. Market St is currently much calmer and nicer now with limiting car traffic, feels more plaza-like, would be amazing to have no cars, no dodging buses and trains, just wide open central pedestrian core. I’m picturing it kind of like the panhandle meets urban density.
And, there, Greg, you got me to write more in depth comments here on your site. 🙂
@jeremy: hey dude now you see my point. Twitter is bullshit for any real discussions. I mean srsly 140 characters?
And now let me respond: While you have put out many reasoned generalities about such an idea, I can seriously assure you that Gavin Newsom
a) did not think of ANY of those when his speechwriter pumped that to pump up is faux green “credentials”
b) has NEVER been pro-Muni and has instructed his MTA appointees to do nada to improve the bread-and-butter Muni services.
c) will NEVER do a thing to make this happen – he’ll let a staffer (paid for with safety inspector funds) fall on their sword to take the balme
d) the cost. Muni has been raped by the state and Newsom to the tune of enough dollars that basic operations are fucked. To talk now of this kind of thing is like when Winchester on “M*A*S*H” was all bitchy when the orphanage didn’t get the candy, only to be told that to sell said candy on the black market to pay for basic necessities benefitted the orphans more.
We can’t even handle a big day of rain and now once again, like with the “free fare” stuff, we’re talking about pie in the sky ideas. We can’t even get the basics right. Until that happens, we can’t talk about redoing a big portion of Muni like this.
PS: The original proposal in the 30s would have not only included more lines underground but also had what we HAVE to have – a Geary street car or Muni Metro.
That all got fucked by Mayor Christopher when in “only 10 years” we’d have BART running to the Ocean. Oops.
(Transbay Blog has the 411 on that shit.)
When we are facing service cuts to our already dreadful service, it just fries me that someone would even think of changes that would require installing all new rail and trolley power rather than using what we’ve already got.
jeremyrandall: let me guess, you’re a young healthy male. Well guess what, not everybody wants to walk that extra (fairly long) block between Market and Mission. Maybe they have heavy luggage. Maybe they’re old, or injured. And with your scheme, they’re going to have to, because BART and the Muni Metro are on Market, and all the buses to the various other parts of the city are on Mission.
My reaction when I saw this item on the Market St. Ry. blog was, “Mr. Mayor, what have you been smoking lately?”
Down here in So. Calif., we have LA City Mayor Villaraigosa, who at least wants to build a “subway to the sea” rather than relocate buses and streetcars, but has not exactly covered himself with glory in other aspects of his service to the people. I would guess that the “Vegas morning line” on either official moving to higher political office is “long odds”.
It’s typical Newsom — a grandiose announcement with no follow-up. How are you all enjoying the electric car refueling station in the Civic Center? How about the “green” MUNI shelter with grass on top? Well, this is just another piece of misdirection designed to keep you from noticing SF public transit is in bad shape and getting worse. Expect a jet pack demonstration at Polk & McAllister the next time a MUNI coach plows into a wall.
Not pertinent to this silly idea of “The Mayor” – I was in SF yesterday for the day from Seattle (Thanks to Alaska Airlines for a $98 round trip special) – a gorgeous autumn day quietened by the Bay Bridge closure. I rode ONLY on electrically powered buses and trains, and my trips on the N were flawless (well, except for the interminable wait just after leaving the Market Street underground and the creepy folks with their dogs at the Cole and Carl inbound stop). No FAILs anywhere that I saw (or heard about), but again, an ideal day for visiting and for transit in many ways. Good luck this winter.