Posts Tagged ‘muni’

New BART trains don’t address boarding issue

March 8th, 2014

The new BART train cars will have lots of improvements over the current ones. But there’s one boarding issue that they didn’t quite tackle.

See what’s missing from their design, as pictured above?

You may have to take a step back, so to speak, in order to notice. Consider how people board BART trains: commuters and other frequent riders wait in a line or small group on the station platform near where the train’s doors stop when it pulls into the station. Generally they let other passengers off first before anyone gets on.

Or at least, they try to. On current BART trains it’s difficult to tell if there’s someone waiting to exit before you get on, because the trains are designed like this:

Now Boarding

As you can see from Todd Lappin’s above photo, there aren’t windows next to the doors. This means you can be standing on the platform, unable to see an exiting passenger before you try to board. Not exactly a well thought out design.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Van Ness Muni Metro Station

As the above photo by Roshan Vyas illustrates, even when Muni Metro’s doors are open you can still see the people inside. You can wait for them to get off before shoving your way on — or not, like certain impolite Muni passengers at rush hour. But either way at least there isn’t a wall at a crucial point in the train car exterior.

BART’s new trains narrow this boarding blind spot, but they don’t eliminate it. Look at all this wasted space:

I understand there needs to be a place for a map and maybe some ads on the trains, but this isn’t the place for it. There shouldn’t be a need to pick between faster boarding and information — both goals are attainable without sacrificing one for the other.

Trader Joe’s Muni Metro line

December 28th, 2012

IMG_4614

The express checkout at the Stonestown Trader Joe’s features a painting of a Muni Metro train. After noticing the painting, it immediately raised two questions in my mind:

  1. Why would an artist choose Muni to represent speed?
  2. Where would this “TJ” route go?

While I won’t attempt to answer the first question, I’d like to speculate on the second. The TJ Metro line has to connect all five Trader Joe’s locations in the city. That’s no easy task.

My panel of subway experts concluded that the TJ route will consist of the following:

Outbound stop is Stonestown. Trains head inbound along existing M line through West Portal and Forest Hill. A switch in the Twin Peaks tunnel takes TJ trains to a new side tunnel heading north under Masonic to an underground station at Geary.
 

Inbound trains continue north, turning east to a new California Street subway tunnel. All trains stop at a station under Hyde and California. From here there are two inbound routes. TJ-N trains head north under Hyde street to a terminal at Bay Street. TJ-S trains head south under Hyde to a connection at Civic Center, continuing under 8th St. to a terminal at Bryant.

Sounds good, does it not? I’m getting hungry for cheap wine and frozen pizza just thinking about this. Better get digging, Trader Joe. I have a shovel and a ladder you can borrow.

Muni wishes you a Happy Halloween

May 14th, 2012

Happy Halloween!

While an educated observer might note that Halloween was, like, six months ago or something, there hasn’t been a compelling reason to stop celebrating. Muni certainly hasn’t, as seen above.

In the immortal words of Ministry, “Everyday is Halloween.” So why not celebrate? Put on that costume and break out your flask, it’s time to Trick-or-Treat, Muni style.

What?

July 26th, 2011

LOLWUT?

Spotted at Church St. Station.

Open letter: Nat Ford’s severance package

June 22nd, 2011

To the mayor and city supervisors:

Since we’ve decided to honor former SFMTA director Nat Ford’s $384,000 severance package, I would like to propose that we provide these funds in the form of a pre-loaded Clipper card.

Please note that funds on a Clipper card are not refundable, and can only be used for transit.

Thank you,

Eric Gregory
MrEricSir.com

Escalator temporarily stairs at Church St.

June 21st, 2011

Broken escalator

Broken escalator

“An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. You will never see an escalator out of order sign, just ‘escalator temporarily stairs — sorry for the convenience.’”

- Mitch Hedberg

It’s already been fixed, but the other day the handrail came off the guide rail at Church St. station. Interestingly, the rubber rail is VERY heavy. There’s a wheel at the top moves the handrail (perhaps there’s another at the bottom) but for the most part it looks like it just slides on a rail. Who knew?

The Treats of San Francisco

June 5th, 2011

The Treats of San Francisco

A Quinn-Martin production!

Wait… what? This is some kind of cheesy Muni ad for buying a Muni Passport and visiting Ghirardelli Square. It has nothing to do with Karl Malden and/or Michael Douglas.

Dangerous Muni Metro tricks

March 30th, 2011

Muni Diaries recently mentioned a couple of dangerous Muni Metro tricks at Van Ness Station.

An unusual way to ride the escalator

Bad place to wait for a train

Stupid? Dangerous? Insane? Yes, yes, and yes. But there’s even dumber things you can do on Muni. And I’ve seen it!

In the mid 2000s, I once witnessed someone ride Muni through the subway by grabbing on to the outside of the train and riding between two train cars. It’s probably really fun, as long as you don’t mind spinal injuries and/or death.

Another dumb idea: out on the street, is there a 2-car Muni Metro train in your way? Just jump between the two train cars over the coupler. Sure you might get your leg chopped off if the train starts while you’re in the middle, or you might jump in front of a car and die. But hey, you’ll save 15 seconds by not walking around the train.

Muni needs signal priority

March 16th, 2011

The SFMTA recently announced some big changes to the messy intersection at Church and Duboce, which is a notorious mess for Muni Metro, the 22 line, bicycles, private vehicles, and pedestrians. Streetsblog covered the changes in depth in an excellent article.

One strange aspect to the renovation which Streetsblog mentions is that there will still be no traffic signals at the intersection.

SFMTA staffers said adding traffic signals would cause unnecessary delays to Muni lines, particularly for the 22-Fillmore running north on Church Street, Kaufman said.

Traffic lights = delays? Somehow that statement doesn’t ring true.

Anyone who regularly travels on Muni Metro through this intersection, or the similar intersection at Ulloa and West Portal, can testify that these intersections are a major source of Muni Metro delays. (The West Portal intersection is actually worse, since Muni Metro has a signal but other traffic does not.)

If we really want to be a “transit-first” city, doesn’t it make sense to have traffic signals that give preference to transit? Especially in the case of Muni Metro, which is supposed to be “rapid” but when mixed with traffic is anything but.

Other transit systems give signal priority to trains and buses. Even VTA in Santa Clara County — which admittedly is a lousy system for many other reasons — gives signal priority to express buses.

Since Muni Metro in many cases has special traffic signals which do not apply to cars, couldn’t we at the very least use these signals to allow Metro LRVs to pass through intersections with priority to all other traffic?

Signal priorities could give many other Metro lines an advantage on many lines, including:

  • T line on 3rd St
  • Both the T and N lines on King and Embarcadero
  • M and K lines along West Portal
  • M line on 19th Ave
  • N line at 9th and Irving
  • J line on Church
  • Granted, this is an expensive proposition, as it involves altering traffic signals, adding signal remotes to trains, and operator education. But when it comes to making getting around the city with reliable speed, it’s worth the cost.

Muni’s repeated derailments

February 11th, 2011

You’d think that the title of 6th best public transit system in the country would mean something. Or at the very least you’d think that at the point where you’re the 6th best at something, you’re not repeating your own mistakes.

But you’d be wrong.

Today’s Muni Metro derailment sounds awfully familiar. A train suddenly came off the tracks between Castro and Forrest Hill station, and nobody knows how it happened.

Why does it sound familiar?

Because the same thing happened in November of 2009. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the exact same scenario happened in August of 2006.

Allegedly, Muni tried to fix the tracks in 2007, several months after the first derailment. But that didn’t solve the problem.

Obviously, train systems are not a new technology; the basics are old and well understood. There’s no excuse for deferred maintenance and half-assed fixes.