O RLY? The Annual Promise to Keep the N From Stopping at 19th And Turning Around…

One of the emptiest promises Muni management and San Francisco politicians can make to those who ride the N-Judah is the golden one known as “we’ll finally stop those trains from dumping everyone at 19th and turn around.”
This week the Muni PR machine was in full spin mode, with a “report” (because after all, paying someone big cash to write a “report” solves all problems) that Something Would be Done About It. You can read coverage at the SF Weekly, the Examiner, and a short rundown at our nieghbor blog Ocean Beach Bulletin.
Now, to be fair, they’re not really promising it will stop doing this, they instead claim they’ll tell you in advance (ha!) an advise you of “other buses” you can take if your N dumps you at 19th and you live in the Outer Sunset. In other words, doing what a normal, professionally run agency would have done (aside from that whole “do the job you’re paid to do” thing in the first place).
Let’s not forget that we hear these promises all the time. This is one of the most common complaints, and you can do a quick search of the archives and find Reader Mail detailing said problems for years, and likewise the empty promises and press conferences that sound wonderful, but do nothing.
I also have to wonder what “buses” one would take to get to Judah and La Playa after being dumped at 19th? Anyone? Worse, how does that work out for those that need disabled access, or for seniors? As usual, the bean counters and bigwigs at Muni have no idea how much of a problem this causes, because they simply do not ride Muni on a regular basis.
As always, just like the Newsom/Chiu Big Committee on Muni, these fools at City Hall and at Muni miss the point. You can make all the promises you like, but if you simply don’t pay for the maintenance needed to keep the fleet running, have a labor force that’s dependable and ready to work every day, and keep on raiding the Muni budget at the local level (not to mention state cuts), inevitably you simply do not have the fleet needed to serve Muni’s’ owner/riders at the level needed to serve the public that pays for the service.
The N’s performance has been slipping as of late to begin with, but this “news” isn’t really news to people who rely on Muni to get around town. The real news is that once again the media is taken in by this PR nonsense, and can’t even read their own archives to be a little more skeptical of Muni’s promises.

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6 Responses to O RLY? The Annual Promise to Keep the N From Stopping at 19th And Turning Around…

  1. Tom Prete says:

    Thanks for the mention of the Ocean Beach Bulletin, Greg, though I wish this were one of those stories we had covered more robustly. You’re right, it’s no surprise to regular riders that this is happening. The only new news is that Muni produced a document using its own data to confirm the basis of riders’ complaints. The question many riders are asking is whether any results will follow the report. I suspect that many of them have come to the same conclusion you have.
    I would be eager to hear how Muni plans to ensure that the advance notice and alternate-line information it promised is actually delivered. Not every operator has a good knowledge of the system (I’ve had to direct the driver of an L shuttle to Forest Hill station when the tunnel was closed down and he became lost), and operators frequently claim they didn’t know they would have to turn back until they were nearly at the turn-back point.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Greg,
    On the other end of things, on Friday evening I was trying to get to the 6:27 Caltrain, preferably with some time to spare to pick up some food at one of the nearby establishments. I just missed a T at Castro, so I boarded the next M and got off at Powell. I know from experience that the 30/45 detour over to 5th Street is making that way of getting to Caltrain pretty unreliable during evening rush. Fear not, the sign and voice said the next train was a N. Unfortunately, the actual train sign said Embarcadero.
    Two trains later was another N that said Caltrain! I got on that, but just after we left Powell, the driver said he was terminating at Embarcadero despite what the signs said. I finally ended up at Embarcadero waiting for a now crowded T that I could have just caught at Castro, and I barely had time to get some food and make my train.

  3. Karl says:

    I take the L down Taraval every day and have been kicked out at 22nd Ave handful of times over the last six months or so. Seems to have gotten more frequent, but I figured they made some change to try to get people out of downtown quicker than run half empty trains all the way out to the zoo during rush hour.
    At any rate, they turn around either at 22nd Ave or Sunset Blvd. These are the two handicap stops down that way, and the turns are typically announced ahead of time and were ahead of another L that was just a couple three blocks behind. It sucks but it isn’t that bad an experience either, compared to what else goes down at times and yes of course this is mostly due to the fact that the schedule on the rail lines falls apart at 6:30am or so… Not sure what the hoopla is on the N.

  4. david vartanoff says:

    equipment perspective Monday, Muni was short 3 roadworthy LRVs today, 4. And I would argue that the 114 “required” are inadequate although ridership has dropped since the cuts a year ago.

  5. Mickey Lim says:

    I concur what Mike said that this happens frequently on the “L” however, there was not any warning and no other train right behind. This has been a (especially in bad weather) frequent gripe of mine that they leave us at 22nd! Last time I was so angry, I just sat in the stair well, and refused to move, so the train could not close it’s door and turn around until the next train finally arrived 15 minutes later. I was NOT going to sit out in the cold rain for god knew how long. They could have given due respect and let us know at West Portal Station (under cover)

  6. Russell Stevens says:

    This isn’t a new story. 40 years ago I live in Sunset and it happened just as frequently then as it still does today. I would have thought by now Muni would have some other lame excuse for unacceptably poor service but that apparently isn’t the case. Muni is the reason I don’t live anywhere near the Bay Area now.

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