> Muni Bloopers

Muni bloopers (and service you appreciate too!)

Send us your Muni stories! We'll publish them at this web site. Not only will you feel better, we riders will be able to collect independent statistics on what really goes wrong with the system. As RESCUE MUNI grows, we hope to develop a database to identify routes with the most problems and also be able to specify what problems bother riders most.

The more specifics that you can provide, the better: location, time, route number or letter, car number, driver name or badge number, etc. We are working on a standard form for submitting complaints. But these things come slowly!

We also want to hear about Muni employees who provide service one usually does not receive on Muni, e.g., calling out all connecting stops and all stops when it is dark or raining or extremely crowded in the vehicle, controlling punks.

Bunching extraordinaire

22-Fillmore, Sutter and Fillmore, Friday, March 21, 1997 I waited half an hour for a bus. Other people had been waiting 15 minutes before. Finally, one bus came. Not only one, but two, and then three, and then four. I couldn't believe it; people were just laughing. Within 10 seconds, the fifth one came. It was just unbelievable.
--Noel Hendrick

Not the first No-L

L-Taraval, 35th Ave. and Taraval, Friday, January 31, 1997 Rush-hour Muni customers living west of Sunset Blvd. along the L-Taraval route, otherwise known as the L-Terrible, are close to revolt -- and definitely not singing Christmas carols. Double-car train after double-car train turns back at 35th Avenue instead of going all of the way to the Zoo as their destination signs indicate. They dump significant loads of customers every evening to wait regardless of rain, wind, or level of frustration or delay already experienced. Repeated protests to Muni have produced... nothing.

Tonight, over 30 passengers were told only upon arriving at 35th Ave. that their two-car train was turning back. Seething with anger at the continuing lack of respect for us as customers, several of us demanded an explanation, but were only told another train will arrive in 4 to 5 minutes. So we grudgingly waited on the sidewalk. Five minutes later a double-car train arrived, but it also dumped off its customers and turned back. Sixty angry riders were then waiting at Sunset Blvd., and we were so steamed we could have heated a downtown office tower.

A half-dozen riders, encouraged by those on the sidewalk, refused to leave the car until they could speak with a Muni supervisor (via the operator's phone) and get him to re-direct the train to continue to the end of the line. Another 10 minutes passed and a third train showed up just as the crowd finally got Muni to take the second two-car train all of the way to the end point of the line.

Many of Muni's problems are indeed multi-faceted and difficult to solve. This one is not. Muni management should fix the L-Terrible now and illustrate some good-faith effort in showing concern for its riders.
-- Ken Niemi

A law until himself

14-Mission, 16th St. and Mission, Wednesday, November 13, 1996, 7 p.m. A tall, elderly white man with grey hair came onto the bus. He asked the boy [son of a friend of the driver] to give him his seat, but the uniformed MUNI driver said that the driver was in charge of the bus and that he was the law on the bus, and that the boy didn't need to move. The elderly man said that he was 79 years old and wanted to sit down. Several of the elderly passengers looked worried, and the tall elderly man stood, grasping on the rail overhead. The elderly man said to the uniformed MUNI driver that it was against the law for the boy to sit and not let the man sit, and that the boy should give the seat. The uniformed MUNI driver told the elderly man that the driver is the law on the bus. The driver told the elderly man, shouting at the man, that the boy didn't need to move, and that the driver was blessed by God and that the elderly man should be thankful that the driver picked him up at all in the cold dark night, and that if the elderly man didn't like it, he could leave the bus at the next stop. Which he did at 20th Street. And so did several other passengers who looked frightened by the uniformed MUNI driver.

While the uniformed MUNI driver was shouting all these things to the elderly man, the woman [friend of the driver, mother of the boy] was laughing and making signs with her hands that the man was crazy and saying that the man was drunk. I stood next to the elderly man -- I was afraid for him, that the uniformed MUNI driver might hit him and the driver was shouting at the man. I smelled no alcohol on the elderly man, and I didn't think him crazy -- but drunk or crazy or not, I thought that he had the legal right to sit -- but the uniformed MUNI driver did not. The driver said that he was the law on the bus, and he humiliated the elderly man and forced him from the bus, and laughed about it.

Just before I got off the bus at 21st Street, the uniformed MUNI driver was honking the horn needlessly because there was a car un-parking several dozen feet up ahead in the right parking lane. The driver swayed the bus unnecessarily and shouted ``I'll tear it up for you!''
-- A digusted rider

Musical streetcars

K-M-L (L-M-K?), Embarcadero Station. A Metro train comes into Embarcadero Station, already half full because passengers have been waiting at Powell and Montgomery stations. The train is a K-M-L. More passengers load onto the train, especially the L. All of a sudden the operators announce that the first car will be an L and the last a K. With no explanation and no apology, 100+ riders have to scramble to switch cars.
-- Ken Niemi

It's Christmas time in the city

15-Third Street, Kearny and Market, Saturday, December 16, 1995, 11 a.m. The 15 doesn't come for half an hour and a large crowd builds up. When the bus does come, it is so crowded that the driver refuses to let anyone on. Some passengers attempt to squeeze in the back door. The driver screams and runs back to shove them out. Among the people he pushes out is an elderly woman who falls under the bus. The bus starts moving forward and the driver ignores the warning cries of passengers. A bystander snatches the woman out from under the bus just before the tire would have run her over. One passenger remarks, ``And a Merry Christmas to you, too.'' The next 15 doesn't come for 5 or 10 minutes. I filed a complaint, but never heard back from Muni.
-- Talia Schaffer


Castro St. Station, January 7, 1996, 3:20 p.m. Youth and young adult patrons on Muni seem to have hearing problems, especially regarding announcements to keep radios silent (seems like they never heard of the recent invention of headphones). But the station attendent on duty at Castro St. station this day continued making the annoucement for a teen with a boom box to turn it off until he finally did, an employee act rare on the Muni system.

Perhaps Muni management, City Hall officials, and police consider the playing of radios and tape players in the stations and on the vehicles a small problem. However, we the riders are forced onto Muni because of the high density in San Francisco, cost of using a car, and concern for the environment. We do not wish to be trapped having to listen to someone else's choice of music. This goes whether the music is classical, jazz, rock, or lyrics that have use the mf word every line.
-- Ken Niemi

If he'd only said please

K-Ingleside, West Portal Station. The streetcar sits in the station for 3 to 4 minutes. Without warning, the driver screams, ``Get off the train!'' Startled passengers disembark and the empty car goes on.
-- Laurie Keechler

Not Again!

L-Taraval, 30th and Taraval going downtown, 9:45 a.m. With no explanation and, as usual for Muni, not one word of apology, the operator of car 1239 said in a blunt announcement "You all have to take the next car". We can guess that another Muni vehicle broke down. The problem is that Muni, from top to bottom, seems to have the view that they are doing the customers a favor when they service us. The change that has to happen is for them to realize they have been given a contract to perform a service for transit riders in San Francisco. If they do not wish to do it, either individuall or as an organization, we the public need to demand new contractors who will meet our needs and treat us as valued customers.
-- Ken Niemi

The customer is always wrong

K-Ingleside, West Portal Station. I board the K at Church Street Station. Actually, I don't know it's a K, since the electronic display panels aren't working, but when I get on the other passengers tell me it's a K. At West Portal Station, I go up to ask the driver whether the streetcar is indeed a K. The driver turns around and yells to everyone, ``Get off the train!'' Confused passengers pile onto the platform, but something comes over me and I jump back on the streetcar. The train continues to Balboa Park, picking up and letting off people just as a regular K.
-- George Musser

Guardian angel

K-Ingleside, St. Francis Circle. This is a story of Muni at its worst -- and its best. I board the K at Church Street Station after having waited for half an hour. The car is jam-packed with City College students. When the streetcar gets to St. Francis Circle, the driver announces that it will turn around and go back downtown -- passengers had to get off. A few minutes later, another streetcar comes, but its sign says ``No Passengers.'' The car stops, the driver opens the door, and I ask him, ``We just got kicked off the K. Can you take us?'' The driver says, ``Sure. I'm headed to the barn anyway.'' So he changes the sign to ``K-Ingleside,'' the passengers get on, and everyone warmly thanks the driver.
-- George Musser

Leave your heart in San Francisco -- and your clothing

1-California. The bus is so crowded that a woman's dress remains caught in the pressure of the crowd as she tries to get off. She gets off, minus a large portion of her dress.
-- Steve Marino

Don't mind us passengers, we like to twiddle our thumbs

J-Church, Car #1230A, Church and Day, Monday, April 22, 1996, 4:15 p.m. The driver stops the streetcar, opens the door, walks out to the Mikeytom Market, and returns five minutes later with a paper bag in his hand. No explanation or apology to the passengers.
-- George Musser

More Metro Mess-ups or "Where, oh where has my L-car gone?"

Powell St. Metro Station, Sunday, April 28, 1996, 8:10 p.m. After watching an M, J, N, K, J, out of service car go by outbound, riders of the L-Taraval line are left wondering why a second J car went by when an L-Taraval car is not available. This is a typical source of frustration for riders where Muni seems not to care and has the attitude of take the service we provide or leave it. The second J car, a line that comes no where close to the N and L in terms of number of riders, should have been turned into an L. Muni needs to serve the passengers first and then work out how, within its organization and with its employees, it will provide the service necessary to put passenger needs first.
-- Ken Niemi

Please DON'T play that funky music OR Silence is golden

Powell St., Sunday, April 28, 1996, 8:10 p.m. A group of teen thugs are blasting their boom box (and shouting to each other only rarely using non-objectionable language) in the station further frustrate customers waiting for an L (see above). After I complained using the white phone to the station agent, an announcement was made. However, it was very weak in terms of citing penalties or even a call for civility and respect for the rights of others.
-- Ken Niemi

Mediocre Movement by Muni Metro

L-Taraval car 1261 outbound, West Portal, Wednesday, May 1, 1996, 5:40 p.m. - After already being stuck in a slow moving tunnel for a 15-minute delay (no explanation or apology, of course), the L-car needs to stop outside of West Portal as the operator, for some unexplained reason, had to walk to the rear operator area of the car and do something before we could move on. This added a further 5-minute delay, meaning the car took 50% longer to reach the end of the line as it should, i.e., a lightning fast average speed of about 8 m.p.h.

This problem occurs far too often with no explanation ever given. Why do the L-cars so often have to stop and waste time outside of West Portal when outbound? There may be a legitimate problem, but the riding public deserves to know what it is.
-- Ken Niemi

No way to run a railroad or, At least Muni tried, I guess

L-Taraval car 1256 outbound, Sunset Blvd., Friday, May 10, 1996, 8:32 a.m. This single car turns around to provide service inbound instead of going all of the way to the Zoo. In general, this use of the 35th Ave. turn-back during the morning rush hour is just the type act of which RESCUE Muni would normally support whole-heartedly. However, Muni missed the major point of this policy by turning around a single-car train and making a two-car train just behind it wait. Instead, the two-car train should have turned around while the single-car L went on to Zoo before turning around.

The second error of this episode was for car 1256 to then wait at 35th and Taraval for six minutes waiting for a car coming from the Zoo to connect with it to form a two-car inbound train. This may not sound like a lot of time, but during rush hour waiting six minutes is a long time. There was no logical explanation for why Muni chose to manage its expensive capital and human resources so poorly. During the morning rush hour Muni should never send a two-car train all of the way to the Zoo unless there has been a long delay in service. It makes no sense to make run two empty cars to the end when one will do.
-- Ken Niemi

They just couldn't bear to part

K-Ingleside, West Portal Station, Friday, May 10, 1996, 4:30 p.m. I was waiting for a K car at Church Street Station. A train composed of L and M cars pulled up, and I decided to get on and switch over to the K at West Portal Station. I got out at West Portal -- this would have been about 4:45 p.m. -- and watched the L and M cars pull out. Presently another train arrived, and this one was composed of alternating L and M cars, all of which had to be separated from each other. They couldn't get two of the cars apart, so the train was stuck in the station for 10 minutes. I don't know why they didn't put all the Ls together at one end and all the Ms together at the other, which would have meant only separating the train in the middle instead of detaching each car! But I comforted myself with the thought that the K cars must be right behind, just delayed by the stuck train.

By now it was about 5 p.m. They finally got the Ls and Ms out, and the next train came right in -- and it was a bunch of Ls and Ms again. That train departed with only one or two people on it. Finally, at about 5:10, another train came in. This one too was Ls and Ms, and the station screens flashed 'L' and 'M' but way at the back I saw a K car and ran for it. The K had finally arrived after half an hour's wait, but (a) they hadn't announced it on the screens, and (b) there was only one car, so of course it was packed. Who is in charge of scheduling cars, and when can we fire him or her?
-- Talia Schaffer

Is anyone in control here?????

Embarcadero Station, Tuesday, May 14, 1996, 8:40 p.m. A single N car leaves for outbound service. The next car is a single J car. This pattern is repeated with another N followed by another J. Guess no one was running the system that night because it would be beyond belief for loyal customers to question Muni management's concern with serving the riding public.
-- Ken Niemi

Silence is not always golden

L-Taraval car 1302, Tuesday, May 14, 1996, 9:15 p.m. Not one announcement is made by the operator of stops with intersecting transit lines. Didn't Muni lose a lawsuit under the American Disabilities Act that it had to announce all stops that connect with other transit lines so that the seeing-impaired are informed? One of the simplest (and cost-free) actions Muni could take instantly to improve its image with the public is to simply always announce all connections with other lines as well as announcing all possible upcoming stops when cars are crowded (those standing cannot see where they are) and when it's dark and/or raining.
-- Ken Niemi

Why would you want some fresh air???

L-Taraval car 1268 inbound at 46th and Taraval, Wednesday 15, 1996, 10:00 a.m. It's raining. Therefore, after much thought and analysis, using high-powered supercomputers from NASA, one deduces that the passengers cannot have the windows open since the rain would come in and get everyone wet. After linking three supercomputers together with a hundred top-of-the line Sun workstations, we have come to the analytical conclusion that the passengers might appreciate having the streetcar ventilation system running. This conclusion is strengthened as the car fills to crowded conditions with passengers and the combination of their body heat and their wetness from waiting for the train in the rain make for hot, humid, uncomfortable conditions, especially those who have to stand with their head suffering from the rising heat. But sadly, Muni either failed to turn on its supercomputers that day OR, unexpectedly, failed to apply some common sense to the needs of its customers.
-- Ken Niemi

It's so nice and cozy in here!

L-Taraval car 1268 inbound at West Portal, Wednesday 15, 1996, 10:20 a.m. A crowded L car pulls into West Portal Station. I can't take the crowded, suffocating atmosphere any long so I get out of the car to board the next train that has some room on it, no matter how long Muni takes to produce one. Surprise, surprise, an empty M car pulls right into the station and connects with the L-car. Of course, Muni turns out, this one time, to be very expeditious in its actions and the two cars immediately connect and take-off downtown. The problem is that the L-car operator either wasn't informed of the connecting empty M-car or didn't care to share the info with the extremely crowded folks on his or her car. This is another example of how Muni is not concerned with giving its customers the best service possible each and every day.
-- Ken Niemi

Just doing my job and doing it right!

47-line on Van Ness Northbound, bus 5295, Thursday, May 16, 1996, 8:10 a.m. Operator calling out all of the stops. That's what Muni riders want and Muni management should reward those who always do this and deal with those who do not.
-- Ken Niemi

The weather outside is frightful

L-Taraval car 329 outbound at West Portal, Friday 17, 1996, 7:00 p.m. Another crowded L-car and it's raining. Of course, the operator does not bother to turn on the ventilation system.
-- Ken Niemi

Catch me if you can!

L-Taraval car 1257 outbound at West Portal, Wednesday May 22, 1996, 6:30 p.m. To allow customers to transfer or not to allow them to transfer, that is the question. Unfortunately, the Muni operator of the L car in an L-K-M car train at West Portal chose to not allow passengers from the last car of this train to transfer to it. Muni management and City Hall officials, not accustomed to riding Muni, have probably not experienced this situation so I will describe the basic scenario at work here.

Muni gives riders little notice of which cars are about to enter a station when trains are going outbound. The signs sometimes flash the signal literally just seconds before the train arrives in the station. Therefore, riders do not know where to stand on the platform to catch the train they need. Further complicating this situation is Muni's ineptitude in making sure the electronic signs correctly reflect the cars destination. The final problem is that cars often show not just one destination but two or even three. Perhaps Muni expects every passenger to run to the front of the car to check that sign before boarding a car? Until Muni fixes this ridiculous problem, it can at least always allow passengers an opportunity to switch to the correct car at West Portal should they have had to board a different car at their originating station.

A final reason Muni needs to consider for making sure this is a standard practice is that the L cars are often so packed at Van Ness or Church St. stations that passengers have no choice but to board a connected K or M car and transfer at West Portal.
-- Ken Niemi

Barbecued Brains

Every July 4th, Muni evidently forgets that thousands of people have to get home after the fireworks at around 10 p.m. For the past few years, we have yet to see any evidence of extra buses on the 42, 47, 49, or 22 routes. The result is completely predictable: long waits (45 minutes is typical), crowded buses (drivers must pass by some stops), and short tempers (so much for holiday good cheer). A ride from Russian Hill to the Mission becomes a two-hour ordeal. How hard would it be to have extra buses standing by at the northernmost stops for when the crowds head home? The utter lack of foresight is evidence, if further evidence were needed, that public transit in San Francisco has all but collapsed. Next year, we're driving to Oakland.
-- George Musser

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Last updated January 1997.