Monday, December 8, 2008

The Zen of MUNI

Even though I don't have a car, I rarely take the bus in San Francisco. On its opening night I joined Cara and members of her extended family for Milk, the incredible film about the life of former San Francisco Supervisor and gay activist Harvey Milk. After the film, I left Cara at Filmore and Geary stop for the Muni 22 bus, a popular route which basically runs straight home to Potrero Hill. Wanting to get a run in, I'd changed into my running clothes, handed her a bag with my "pedestrian" gear, and set off. This "race" wasn't even close -- I got back well ahead of her.

This Saturday night we took the same bus back to the same location. We were meeting Cynthia and Nathan at Maki, a quite good Japanese restaurant in Japan Center. With the help of NextBus (actually, a bit easier is NextMUNI, a MUNI-specific page) and some favorable luck were able to time our connections. However, after we got home, the web page for our outbound leg was still open on my browser. I had to take a screenshot... one minute elapsed before I could do so, so the arrival times had been a minute longer:
A NextBus screenshot from Saturday night


This is not unusual. A shot I took a few weeks ago when checking buses for a friend:
A NextBus screenshot from a few weeks before


Earth to MUNI: people like me are simply not going to rely on a system which regularly has 42 and 48 minute gaps in service which, bad enough, is supposed to run on a 20 minute schedule. Literally I can run across the city in the time I'd have to wait for the next bus. If you can schedule around essentially random arrival times, fine, but often, especially on return trips, this isn't possible.

Perhaps my attitude is a bad one. Perhaps I need to embrace the Zen of MUNI. Go to a stop, focus on the breath, and wait. Be in the moment. Let the thoughts drift away, exist in the now. The bus will be here ... when it's here. Until then, time and self merge.

Sorry, too advanced for me. As I said, it's really the exception I take the bus here. Muni is more of a threat than an aid to me, with its buses competing for the space used by bicyclists and generally ignoring pedestrian right-of-way. Obviously something needs to change if more people are to give up their cars.

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