MUNI - Horror Stories : LUSENET : Transit First San Francisco : One Thread

Eveyone has them - this is the place to leave yours. It might also be a good idea to send a copy to DA Mayor too!

-- rp (, November 02, 1997


This is one that almost any MUNI rider has experienced...It's rush hour, say 5:15 in the afternoon. Hundreds of people are huddled together standing shoulder to shoulder liked caged animals on the platform of the Montgomery Street station. There hasn't been a train in the last 15 minutes, but wait, what's this, a light at the end of the tunnel...a train coming from Embarcadero Station! But of course, being a seasoned MUNI veteran, I've learned not to get my hopes up too high, and with good reason, because is it a 4 car L-L-K-K? No-o-o-o-o. How 'bout a 3 car M? N-o-o-o-o. Un-uh, it's a, you guessed it, 1 car N, and surprise, surprise, it's packed to the gills. A few minutes later, another MUNI comes - is it an M, L, or K? 'Course not! It's another 1 car N. A few minutes later, another one comes, this time a 1 car J. Next in line, a 2-car N, then a 2-car J. Finally an M comes along, 1-car of course. Half an hour later, a 3 car L-L-K, comes along, packed to the gills of course, but I muscle my way on. Another half an hour later, I'm home. Only 1 hour 10 minutes to go 3 miles! Jeez, I could've walked home faster! God bless MUNI and god bless da mayor who's solving all our mass transit woes.

-- David Friel (, November 19, 1997.

It's 5:15 at Embarcadero Station, packed as usual. After the ususla run of single N's and J's, here comes a three car K-M-L. All things considered the L isn't that crowded (a relative term of course)so we all pile on. After the driver cycles the doors open and shut a couple of times, he powers off. The lights go off. They don't come back on. We take off for Montgomery in a pitch black condition. Riding the Metro in a crowded car without lights is no fun ! However our pleasure is compounded by the fact that the doors don't open at Montgomery Street and again we take off without lights. Finally, while sitting outside Powell for five minutes or so, the driver ambles back to the rear control pod, fiddles with something, and we have lights ! The balance of the trip to Castro Street only takes about 35 minutes with multiple crawl sessions, but the friendly driver did come on around Church Street to tell us that "we're moving !!" We weren't.

-- Alan Rutherford (, November 19, 1997.

My MUNI horror story involves the dreaded Cable Cars.

On the morning of October 10th, 1997, myself and my girlfriend were crossing the corner of California and Hyde. We had the green light and the little white gingerbread man to tell us that it was our turn to cross the street. When we were about half-way across the street, the operator of the cable car, which was at a FULL STOP, decided he wanted to release the brake and proceed around the corner from Hyde to California. Both of us were in complete shock! We both yelled at the top of our lungs in complete fear. I grabbed my girlfriend, who by the way was recently injured in a bicycle accident, and threw her out of the path of the accelerating cable car. The cable car passed within inches of us and finally came to a stop PAST the crosswalk.

I approached the driver fuming and demanded he get a supervisor on scene. The brakeman ran up to me and began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm STILL trying to figure out how THIS comes into play. The driver NEVER looked at me. He instead turned his back and let the brakeman try to make excuses for why the operator tried to run us over. A supervisor FINALLY came on scene about 15 minutes later.

After a long and detailed letter to Emilio Cruz at MUNI, I received this reply:

======================================== 10/23/97

Mr. Jovino Arias RE: Passenger Service Report #090089 10/15/97

Dear Mr. Arias,

Our Passenger Service department has forwarded to me your complaint dated 10/15/97 concerning a near-miss by one of our cable cars on 10/10/97.

Mr. Arias, I hope you and Ms. Swift will accept my personal apology for the embarrassment and trauma you experienced as the result of this incident.

We, at MUNI, emphasize to our operators the need for safety-awarness at all times. When, as in this case, it did not prevail, it is most distressing for the public and certainly reflects very poorly on the Railway.

I have identified the operator-in-question and taken appropriate action, which includes safety reinstruct ion.

Thank you, Mr. Arias, for bringing this matter to the attention of MUNI. We really do welcome input from the public.

Sincerely, Andrew Saltzman Superintendent Cable Car Division

cc: Passenger Service ========================================

So, everyone, write those letters. Stand up. Be heard.

-- jovino arias (, November 19, 1997.

Ok, so my contribution to this forum has to do with the 36 line in general. I have reached the point that I do not wait at Forest Hill Station for the 36 anymore, and in the morning it is easier to walk 6 or 7 blocks to catch the 44 to Glen Park Bart than to wait for the 36. Simply because I never know when or if it is coming. I do have one specific story to share. Thursday, January 15, I arrive at Forest Hill station at about 6:35 PM I wait in the rain ( I know thats my fault I could have waited inside.) for 40 min. The 36 finally arrives, lets 3 passengers off the bus. The driver then informs myself and about 15 others that she is the only bus on the route, has been for the last five hours and that she is tired and going home. She then shuts the doors and drives off, leaving us all standing in the rain. Apparently someone made a call, and she returned about 10 min later, need less to say in a not so pleasant mood and picked us up.

-- Pete Keenan (, January 19, 1998.

I'm an infrequent MUNI rider, but my experience today drove me to find means of feedback. Below is what I sent through their website. My response to your questionnaire is attached. Thanks!


Just once, I'd like to be able to ride the J line all the way to the Glen Park station without being forced off the train at 30th Street.

Virtually every time I attempt to ride the J line home, the trian stops at 30th Street and the driver tells us that this is the last stop. Most times, the train continues South, and I rarely see the train come back the other way. (I have plenty opportunity to watch, since the next southbound J train is not exactly close behind.) I often wonder, since there are only three stops after 30th Street (I think), why the driver doesn't just take all of the passengers the rest of the way, since s/he's headed in that direction anyway...

Today was a typical occurrence -- on telling us to get off the train at 30th, a group of people tried to get on the very train we were told to get off of. They had apparently been forced off the train *they* were on, only to be told that they would have to wait for the next one (again). One boy had been waiting for an hour.

The signs on the train aren't any help -- some trains going all the way to Balboa Park have sings reading "30th Street", the first (southbound) train I got on said "Embarcadero". Most say "Balboa Park", but the sad truth is that, more often than not, they don't make it all the way.

If this were an unusual occurrence, I wouldn't mind it as much

-- Jeffrey I Michael (, February 14, 1998.

NOTE: the following was originally published in PSUM 1.0, and is copyright Robert Parks


Robert Parks(RP) aka The Evil Bookkeeper also works for Muni. The afternoon half of his regular run is on the 30-Stockton. One outbound trip only goes to Van Ness Avenue(VN) (NOT Beach and Broderick aka Jefferson Loop(JL)).

On this particular day there was bad traffic, missing runs (drivers) and at least one breakdown. Apparently (several?) outbound 30's had been told (or decided on their own) to turn back at Van Ness to get back on schedule.

Note: throughout this scenario, there are passengers exiting through the rear doors. No VN announcements were made (except Market Street) prior to Union Street, since the vast majority of passengers don't go beyond Chinatown. RP is perfectly audible throughout the bus.


Sign on bus reads: 30-Stockton / Van Ness

507p: Columbus btw Stockton and Union RP: Union St, Washington Square, This coach only goes to Fisherman's Wharf(FW)and VN, if you have destinations on Chestnut, the Marina, Exploratorium, Presidio, etc. transfer here or a Polk St to a following 30-Stockton to JL. VN ONLY. Passengers(P): (mumble, grumble)

507p: Columbus at Union (<) Van Ness ONLY Folks (VNOF) Boarding Passenger(BP): Huh?; BP: Do you go to FW?; Yes; BP/RP (repeat); (repeat) Burly Black Male P(BBMP): [previously came in back door because `disabled', wanted a seat, refused to debark] You're saying what the other driver said; Don't come in the back door; No, that you're only going to VN; Oh, OK; [debarks, grumbling] BP: Do you go to Broderick; No. (>)

RP: Greenwich and Mason 508p: Columbus at Greenwich

RP: Chestnut and Taylor 509p: Columbus at Chestnut

P: (words of encouragement re stress, etc.); Oh, it's all right, this is amusement; ?; RP: If it wasn't, I'd be in the psycho ward. Now watch when I make the turn at VN how many people have missed all of this!

RP: Francisco 510p: Columbus at Francisco: no stop.

RP: Bay Street 511p: Columbus at Bay RP: Hyde Street, Cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf area...Hyde Street 513p: North Point at Hyde [bunch of BP's run up past the JL bus] RP:

RP: Larkin, Ghiradelli Square 514p: North Point and Larkin

RP: Polk Street, Aquatic Park, 19 Line, Transfer here to the following 30-Stockton to JL. 515p: North Point at Polk RP: North Point at Van Ness [turns right at VN to go around loop] P: Hey! you just made a wrong turn; Nope; RP: Van Ness, End of the Line! [approx. 20 people still on bus] White Female P(WFP): [at rear door] Aren't you going to Chestnut?; You haven't been listening, have you?; I've been listening, you didn't say anything; I've been yelling the last 15 minutes; Asshole!; Have a nice evening ma'am; P: Could I have a transfer?; Sure; [five people left on bus] RP: End of the Line! P's: Don't you go to the Marina?; No; across the street [disembark] WFP: You made me miss the 30 behind you [JL bus now crossing Bay & Van Ness]; OK; Jerk! [starts walking away, turns around] You took my transfer!; RP: [snaps transfer off, hands it at WFP]; Have another!> 516p: [loops to VN at North Point, waits for inbound departure time (520p)]

-- robert parks (, May 03, 1998.

Here's one--all of it true (perhaps another eyewitness will chime in upon reading this.) A few months ago, I boarded an outbound M at Civic Center. Since the Farmers Market was going that day, there was quite a crowd. About 20 of us entered the train. One elderly lady with a cane, just a few steps behind the rest of us, began to board. As she entered the train, she put her cane in first, to hold the doors in case the driver decided to slam them on her (a not infrequent occurence.) Sure enough, the driver suddenly closed the doors. As the train began to move (with all of us screaming at the driver) the woman was actually dragged several feet along the platform before letting go! We reached Van Ness street with a cane protruding half in, half out of the car. One kind soul grabbed it and headed back to Civic Center to return it to its owner.

-- John Given (, June 11, 1998.


-- LISA BEAR (BEAN@INOW.COM.), June 11, 1998.

Your Right, The 27 is a terrible. The drivers are rude,buses are late all the time. I take it everyday to work.

-- David Chow (, June 17, 1998.

Having recently moved from Germany to San Francisco for an internship, I figured San Francisco still has one of the better public transport systems in the United States. It took only about a week to convince me of the opposite... It's the 4th of July, I am down at Fisherman's Wharf to participate in the festivities. Of course, I took the bus which got me there in time. I enjoyed everything; but at around 10:30, I started thinking it might be better to leave to catch my last bus to the Sunset district. So I started waiting at around 10:45 for a 42 Downtown Loop. 11:15 - still no bus. Although a few other buses came through, I figured it might be because of still heavy traffic. 11:30 - still no bus. The other people around me started getting angry. If you could just do anything besides waiting and looking out for buses (still, there were a few line 30 approching. OK, since there were no buses until after midnight, I started walking up to Van Ness, right along where buses should be going. I figured I might catch a 91 Owl Service at around one. 1:00 a.m. - still at Van Ness, literally a dozen 30 and "Sorry, no passengers" have rushed by. Still neither a 42 nor a 91, but still angry people around waiting. Finally, at 1:50, one hour later than supposed to be, a 91 Owl bus showed up an got me home. I'll never forget waiting alomst three hours for a bus - I would have taken a cab if there had been any, but as I have already found out, that's a different issue... :-)

-- Eick von Ruschkowski (, July 06, 1998.

Regarding waiting for 3 hours for a bus. You didn't mention where in the Sunset you needed to go, but...on Northpoint you have the 19-Polk at Northpoint and Polk which will take you to any Sunset line, you have the 30-Stockton which will take you to the 28-19th Ave at Laguna with service through the heart of the Sunset, or in the other direction the 30 will take you to Market St and your choice of Sunset buses. At Van Ness, you have the 47 and the 49 which will take you to any Sunset bus. And quite honestly, if the bus doesn't come in two headways (40 minutes in the case of the 42), either take another bus or start walking.

Robert Parks 6 and 22 lines.

-- Robert Parks (, August 13, 1998.

There I was, rushing to Montgomery station at 4:50 p.m. to avoid the 5:00 p.m. (and later) sardine cans. I jump on an Embarcadero-bound train to get a seat. Sure, it adds 15 minutes to my commute to Castro station, but at least I don't have to be felt up by everyone else forced to stand. Imagine my surprise at being forced off the train at Embarcardero (you can't stay on it anymore!). Imagine my pain trying to get in the lines for an outbound K, L, or M. Imagine how shocked I was when a train finally lit up, then zoomed forward 12 feet so that those who had been waiting patiently stood no chance of boarding! 1.5 hours later I got home. My total commute is 3.8 miles. That's not too speedy by any measure. It is infuriating that it's nearly impossible to catch an outbound train at Montgomery, and that I have to stand no matter what. That day (8/24/98) was the absolute last day I take Muni Metro for at least a few weeks until it starts to rain again. I started walking to work (about an hour) and it's much more convenient and healthy. The main benefit is not having to worry about it any more. What a relief!

-- Joseph Hardegree (, August 26, 1998.

Last week I left home at 6:15 to get to work early. I boarded a train in the underground at Castro Street. Before we made it to Church Street, the train came to a screeching halt. Fifteen minutes later we were still stranded in the tunnel. The Muni driver finally came on the speaker to announce that it was only his personal opinion, but he expects things to get even worse on Muni. He then stated that if people want to get to work on time in the future, he suggests that they find a different way to get there.

It used to be that from the time I arrived at Castro Street station until I caught a train and actually arrived downtown took about fifteen minutes. Now it frequently takes over an hour to make this trip. This is totally absurd.

And where is Willie Brown while all this is going on????? And why did Willie appoint a trainee (Emilio Cruz) to head up Muni??? With all the problems this system has, an highly experienced transportation professional is needed, not someone going through on the job training.

-- William Horton (, August 28, 1998.

My Muni adventure involves the 44 O'Shaunnessy line. My trip home in the evening is usually a nightmare. I take BART after work from Embarcadero to the Glen Park Station. I usually arrive at the bus stop at around 3:45pm. I wait maybe 10 minutes, a bus arrives, filled with rowdy students from McAteer High. If the bus stops, (sometimes they just pass by) a few people try to squeeze on. When I do get on, my body is twisted trying to get a foothold somewhere and trying to hold on. If I'm carrying packages it further complicates things. I have stood at Glen Park for 50 minutes while bus after bus comes by packed to the rafters. Finally a bus will come and I'll try to board and hope that I can get home feeling like a human being. It's outrageous that the public have come to feel that it's normal to be packed in like cattle, unable to move and sometimes unable to get off the bus at their stop.

One instance, a driver told some of us to board the back door. We did and when we arrived at Mission Street, the people at that stop had obviously been waiting for a very long time. They were ready to riot. People were screaming. A few rather large young men got on the back door and proceeded to try to throw me off. They pushed, pulled me and hit me. By wrapping my arms around the pole, I was able to avoid probably a bad injury, but I was shaking so bad I could harding walk when I finally got off. No one should have to put up with this kind of thing. People are so angry and one day mob violence will cause someone to blow and many people are going to get hurt. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE AND MUST BE DONE NOW!

-- Linda T. Cruz (, September 18, 1998.

J-Church, trying to enter the tunnel, morning rush hour, November, 1998. Waited 30 minutes for a J at the 24th Street stop, barely squeezing aboard. Inadequate ventilation, of course. Sweating within two minutes. The driver is really bad. Jerks to sudden stops. Accelerates too quickly, throwing people about. Just another incompetent, inconsiderate driver. Bruised and sweating, we approach the tunnel entrance and stop. I can see that there is a back up with at least four other cars waiting to enter the tunnel. After a minute or so, a woman asks the driver what the delay is. She is blatantly ignored. No response whatever from the driver. After another minute, I ask the driver if he could let us know what is going on (thinking "should I bail and catch something on the surface going down Market?"). Groaning and acting terribly inconvenienced, the driver leaves the train and saunters slowly up to the car ahead and converses with another driver. After two minutes of idle-looking chat, he slowly saunters back. He enters his booth, slides into his seat - 80 people have now been waiting 5 minutes for some "word". He takes a few extra seconds to take a long pull from his bottle of water, having worked so hard this morning. His prophetic announcement: "There's a delay." When another rider asks, "That's IT?", the driver just shrugs and says nothing. So, all the riders give up, get off, and head to Market and catch an F, as have riders of several other trains that are delayed. Now there are about 200 people crammed onto the platform at Market and Church - but that's another story...

-- Steve Lyon (, February 03, 1999.

About a month ago I was riding the 9. It was packed, as usual, and when it hit 16th and Potrero there was the usual scramble for seats. In the first single seat, there was an old lady with crutches. A very large lady, in haste to claim her seat,manuvered herself in such a way that she almost squished the elderly woman. I saw the old lady's look of fear as she wedged herself from under the fat woman's behind...

-- Erin Cobain (, August 31, 1999.

I used to live in SF (about 10 years ago) and used the 38 or 38L to go downtown from 29th/Geary. I thought that overcrowding was bad on those lines, but since I moved to LA, I see how WRONG I was. Try getting onto the LADOT 422 at Van Nuys/US 101 going Downtown in the afternoon. A ten minute headway and passengers literally plastered against the inside of the windshield because it's so croweded. Or try getting on the 204/354 (Vermont Ave.) to get to the US 101 Hollywood Freeway from 8th/Vermont. Once you CAN get on a bus, it's so crowded, you get sexually harassed fifteen different ways by accident! Try the Blue Line from Downtown LA to Long Beach. Those trains are always crowded. Always could be worse. SF has great weather. Here in LA, it gets *HOT* in the summertime and half the time, the A/C doesn't work! Add the overcrowding and it becomes easy to see why people have to riot once in a while.

-- Chris Paley (, November 15, 1999.

At 5:50pm, 5/02/00, I boarded an overcrowded small-sized 44 O'Shaugnessy bus for my short ride to Portola Drive. At Portola, I did my best to maneuver through the crowd to the rear exit door. Just as I finally made it to the doors, they closed. As the bus started moving, not only I but about twenty passengers crowded around the door started yelling to the driver, "hold the bus, someone is getting off!" To our astonishment the driver barked back, "You had enough time to get off, now you're going to the next stop!"

If you've never gone down O'Shaughnessy, it is a desolate stretch of road which declines in altitude, curve by curve, from Portola Drive to Glen Park.

Realizing my impending walk back up the long stretch of winding, desolate road, I began screaming for the driver to stop the bus, I paid my fare, blah blah blah; you could say I was slightly outraged. Well, the driver of coach number 9023, Joe Shmo I think it was, not only continued past the next stop, but the one after that! At each stop, the majority of passengers were screaming for the driver to stop. To no avail... I was finally let out at Congo Street, about a mile away and a hundred feet below my original stop request.

When I was finally released from this rath of a lunatic driver, I approached the front door to confront him. His response? Cool as a cucumber, he remarked, "Make what ever calls you have to make, now release the door, you're holding these people up."

The worst part of this encounter (I have yet to experience the hearing cancellations) was that I had to wait 30 minutes for a return bus.

-- (, May 03, 2000.

MUNI Horror Stories? There's way too many for this L.A. resident to tell,but here's a couple of them anyway.

The day before Thanksgiving,1998. I'm waiting at Civic Center Station for the J-Church,about to make what should have been a quick ride to 24th and Church. Wrong! I stood there at 3:15 P.M.,waiting,watching N after N after N after N go by,then K-L-M, etc.After an hour,the J finally arrived,already packed to sardines. By the time the one-car train(why?)arrived at Market & Church,people had to enter and exit through the rear,because there was simply no room in the front! The train almost didn't make it up the hill between 18th and 20th,because it was so packed! Finally,when I did arrive at 24th,it was a relief! What should have been a quick 15-to-20 minute ride took almost 90 minutes.Needless to say,I walked to 24th & Mission and took BART back downtown!

The second horror story involves the 38-Geary,and the sheer horror show of some of S.F.'s more destitute people basically relieving themselves in front of everyone,on a crowded bus.

And I thought that the 204,212,and 40 buses here in L.A. were horrible!

-- Janette McClelland (, February 06, 2001.

During my 6 years in SanFrancisco I've dealt with my share of rude bus drivers but being thrown off the bus by a driver is something I never thought I would experience.

I was heading back from work around 6:40pm on 11/15/2002 and saw the outbound 41 bus line in SanFrancisco bus # 5467 making the turn towards the bus stop and I started running towards the bus stop to catch the bus. The bus took on two passengers and closed the doors and started to take off when I knocked on the door. The bus driver decided to open the door and let me in. I asked the bus driver for a transfer and started to walk towards the back of the bus with the transfer.

The bus driver called out to me and started to make claims that I had snatched the transfer out of his hand. I repeatedly told him that I had not snatched but taken the transfer out of his hand. At that point he started to lecture me on how difficult his days are. When I asked him to stop lecturing me he demanded that I get off of "his" bus. I told the driver that I was not going to get off the bus. The bus driver shut down the bus and told me that he's not moving until I get off the bus.

After arguing with him for another few minutes I decided to get off the bus and file a complaint against him.

Once I filed the complaint I began thinking if my filing a complaint was enough to prevent this driver from misbehaving badly towards another person just because he had a difficult day?

Also, what kind of screening process is MUNI making the potential bus drivers go through to give them the responsibility of driving around hundreds of people everyday?

-- (, November 17, 2002.

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