The Evening Commute? Walk If You Can

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@6:33

Commuters tonight were divided between support for the drivers and anger toward them. Their views appeared to depend on their commuting experience.

At 24th and Mission where the 48 moved slowly, commuters were unhappy and the drivers often became the focus of their ire. But at 16th and Mission streets where the 22 and 14 were moving pretty close to normal, more commuters supported the drivers.

Ski Li, who works in the Mission and commutes from San Bruno St. was waiting for the 40 on 24th and Valencia. “They’ve gone too far,” he said referring to drivers who he said, were paid better than many people.

On 16th Street, Lisa was the only person waiting for the 22 at Valencia Street. She usually takes the F-train, but it wasn’t running today. “It’s ridiculous that people are holding the city hostage,” she said.

But Everleana Smith who just stopped to rest at the bus shelter, said she supported the drivers. “They (the drivers) deal with a lot of conflict,” she said. “If you know there’s going to be a delay you need to get with the program,” and plan ahead.  Or, she added, “get your exercise on.”

The 22 on 16th and the 14 on Mission seemed to be running pretty regularly, commuters said.

Stephanie Rocha, who was waiting for the 14 at 16th and Mission said that yes, it had affected a lot of people, but “it’s also their right” to call in sick and pressure the city.

“It was just unexpected for everybody but it probably felt like the right moment to do it,” she said, adding that to her, service seemed back to normal.

Reginald Starks, who works with a security firm said his aunt works for Muni. He supports the sickout and added, “people gotta do what they gotta do to feed their families.”

@5:30 pm

Kim Gibson said she walked from 7th and Market streets to 24th and Mission because the bus was taking too long. “It’s very bad!” she said, and then referred to the ban on city workers striking. “They can’t go on strike so they call in sick.”

Miguel Angel, who declined to give his full name, said he was punched in the side of the head on a crowded 44 after an argument with another man over space.

He advised getting rid of the workers and finding ones who  “satisfy the taxpayers.”

@5:12: No, the evening commute on the second day of the Muni sick out does not look better than this morning.

It’s evening and after work, people just want to get home.

“It’s not right,” says 83-year-old Jonny Roan who has lived in the Mission for 59 years.  He said that it took him an hour and a half to get to 24th and Mission from 16th and Bryant streets.

“I’m 83 years old, I can’t wait for a bus that long….I’ve never seen anything like this.”

At 24th and Mission, Melissa Fullmer let an overcrowded 14 pass by, saying she’ll wait for the next one. She’s not happy with the drivers. “They need to do their job,” she said. “It’s the responsible thing to do. Come in and suck it up. I work at a frick’n grocery store. For driving people around, they get paid way more.”

And that may be the problem in terms of waging a public relations war.  To many riders on Muni, the $32 an hour that drivers rejected looks like like a very good wage.

Ernie Calderon, however, said he supported the drivers. “I’m a union guy, he said at the 24th and Mission stop. “It’s the only leverage they might have… even though it sucks waiting.”

 

@ 11:39 As the second day of the Muni sick out progressed,  the waits have grown on the city’s lines as packed buses don’t even bother stopping for new passengers. When they do, commuters trying to get on and off are on edge. When the 22 came to its stop near Valencia, commuters yelled at another rider, Karen Tanaka to get off because the doors would not close.

 

“For me, it is not going to kill me,” said Tanaka about the difficulties this morning. “But for seniors and disabled people and people who really need the bus there is only one Muni. It’s really shitty for them. It’s been horrible.” Emotions, she said, are simply running high because of the situation. “Everybody loses,” she said. “On all sides.”

Kurk Freeman, who watched several buses pass him by,  agreed that the sick out inconvenienced a lot of people who depend on Muni, but added that “if that’s what they feel they have to do to get what they deserve” then a sick out happens.  He’s unclear if he supports it or not because he doesn’t feel like he has enough information. He said he can’t take some of the buses passing him by anyway because “we’re gonna be packed in like sardines.”

@11:09 Commuters waiting for Muni or packing onto already filled buses had little sympathy for the drivers calling in sick. At least one realized they were losing the public relations battle and he returned to work today saying it would be better to have the public on your side. “They have a bigger pulpit,” he said and declined to give his name.

But it was clear the drivers did not – at least on the 49 – have the public behind them. Juana, a Mission resident, started shaking her head and disagreeing with the driver as he spoke.  “Why would they strike,” she asked. “They already get paid, they get sick time.”

Dominic Scovino, a Mission resident who runs a bar and was on his way to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, said he was frustrated with the drivers. “These people get paid lots of money, all they want to do is to see if the can get a little bit more. He compared the drivers to mobsters, squeezing people for money. But Scovino also had lots to say about the administrators of Muni criticizing their management.  He said he sees people getting on Muni with weapons or sexually harassing other passengers.  They have not made it safe, he said.

Kenneth Brandi, who was waiting for the 14 Mission, said that when Muni authorities were getting millions to run the city’s bus service, “there is no excuse for this,” “It means you haven’t taken care of your workers,” Brandi said. “It’s time for a new head of Muni.” Brandi added that he was outraged also by the lack of air conditioning on buses.

On Tuesday the driver’s union rejected a proposed new contract that would have given operators $32 an hour, but would have meant drivers picking up a percentage of their pensions now paid for by the Municipal Transportation Agency. Muni workers called the sickout on Monday because like all city workers, they are forbidden by law to strike.

@10:31 a.m. The commute seems to be getting worse as the day wears on.  A Mission Local reporter on the 49  said that commuters were “calling the drivers lazy and assholes and generally swearing a lot as they get off the bus.” “I think it’s baloney,” said Lucy Bettencourt, who walks with a cane and was going to 22nd and Mission to do some shopping.

Bettencourt was on the 49 when it stopped at 12th and Mission. “I can’t walk that far,” she said, adding that she would have to start taking cabs if the service interruptions persist.  The drivers, she added, should have given commuters notice.

Alba Castaneda was returning from Kaiser on Geary and was anxious to get back home to the Mission to take care of her mother, who is sick. “It’s no good,” she said of today’s commute. “People need to get home.”

Alana Harrington was one of the few commuters who expressed some sympathy with the drivers,  but she added that the city had to be careful about giving more raises. “The city is trying to be careful about long term spending, which I appreciate,” she said.  Workers however have the right to strike. “That’s part of a strike, ” she said. “Making people uncomfortable and making things not work so that you get your way.”

@ 7:30 a.m. Commuters today along 24th and Mission Streets said that the delays from Monday’s sickout – running up to more than an hour – have been cut in half today and in some cases, even less so. “Today was pretty good,” said Janet Gray who commutes from Hayward to her job at the San Francisco Housing Authority. “When I came up from BART yesterday it was 88 minutes until the next bus, today it was 28 minutes.”

Monica Amaya, who was also waiting for the 48-Muni on 24th Street, agreed. She waited 72 minutes on Tuesday, but had timed it better today so that her wait would be less than 20 minutes. Generally, she said, the bus runs every 12 minutes or so.

Riders at 6:30 a.m. catching one of the first buses of the day.

Riders at 6:30 a.m. catching one of the first buses of the day.

Luis Hernandez, who was catching the 14-Mission going north to get to his job at a restaurant, said the service was “casi normal,” or almost normal. Muni drivers continued Tuesday to call in sick and the Metropolitan Transit Agency warned commuters in a series of tweets that delays would continue.

The agency said that there were 100 more buses on the roads today.

 Even with 100 additional vehicles on the street today, significant delays will remain,” read the press release. “Customers should expect crowding and waits of up to 60 minutes. Some routes may be turned back mid route to help minimize crowding. Announcements will be made via NextBus, on vehicles or in Metro stations.”

Those delays, however, were not apparent on Mission or 24th Streets this morning. Mike Mendoza, who was waiting for the 48 – Muni to get to the hospital, said he had only been waiting 11 minutes when his bus came. “It’s a lot better than yesterday,” said Maria Rosa as she boarded a bus that still had seats. Service announcement from the SFMTA on today’s service:

Muni Metro (J Church, K Ingleside, L Taraval, M Ocean View, N Judah, T Third)

  • All Muni Metro rail lines will operate on their regular routes and continue to operate with two-car trains to maximize capacity.

Muni Bus Service

  • No limited-stop service (affects the 5L, 9L, 14L, 28L, 38L)
  • The following routes will not operate:
    • 1AX/BX, 31AX/BX, 38AX/BX
    • 16X, 88
    • 3 Jackson – The majority of stops on this route are covered by the 2 Clement
  • 8AX Bayshore Express and 8BX will operate without changes.

The cable cars are not in operation. Cable car lines will continue to be covered by limited bus shuttle service.

The F Market Line will continue to operate between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building. For service along Market Street, please use Muni Metro.

Transportation Options

Biking or Walking

In addition to transit, carpooling and parking, the SFMTA recommends that commuters consider bicycling and walking when these options are viable. If you plan to use a bicycle for your commute, a map of bicycle routes is available on sfmta.com.

Parking

For information about off-street parking garages or lots, visit sfmta.com.

Taxi Service

Evening taxi stands are at downtown hotels. A map of the hotel stands is available on sfmta.comAdditional information about official San Francisco taxis is also available on our website.

Other options include flexible work hours to avoid the peak commuting periods and telecommuting.

One Comment

  1. John

    Why isn’t Muni firing the workers who are claiming to be sick but who do not have a doctor’s sick note?

    It is illegal for them to strike and this is a de facto strike.

    And their big complaint, apparently, is improving the funding for their own retirement!

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