Friday, October 26, 2012

Frightening Near Death Experiences

The most critical thing that Muni must improve on is our safety, and how Muni will protect us and our belongings. Without ensuring the rider’s safety on Muni transportation, nobody will think that Muni is a reliable transportation we can take every day.

Every single day, fights and arguments are bound to happen on Muni buses, but it depends if you can see it. Often times, fights don’t get that serious, and the bus drivers stop them before it scares the riders. The bus driver, in the event of fights or arguments, has the responsibility to stop the bus and to end the fight.
Fights Occurring on Muni 

I’ve seen more arguments than fights. People usually argue for some unknown reason, and then they leave the bus. Usually, it doesn’t end up in a fight. However, fights do happen, and then it becomes more serious.

A few years back, when I was in High school, a YouTube clip was widely shared throughout the internet.  The clip was about a Chinese lady and an African American lady fighting on the 30 bus line because the African American lady wouldn't move her backpack over to let the Chinese lady sit.

The argument over the seat ended up as a fight, and some passengers tried to help stop the fight. The Muni driver stopped the bus, and then the African American lady left the bus. Although Muni should not have let that happened, there wasn't much that a driver can do. The best the driver can do is to call the police and then try to stop the fight.

The Fight that Occurred on Muni
In addition to arguments and fights, pick pocketing and robberies are also very common on Muni buses. According to ABC News, thefts on Muni increased from 102 to 150, and robberies increased from 38 to 57. Muni will need to prioritize our safety by coordinating with the San Francisco Police.

On the SFMTA webpage, it lists out some pointers that you can follow to avoid being pick pocketed and to be safe. I chose a few important key ideas to share on this blog.
1.     Stay awake. A pickpocket's easiest victim is a sleeping customer. If you feel drowsy, it's best to get up and stand.
2.     Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
3.     Avoid displaying large amounts of money in public.
4.     Carry wallets inside coat or front pants pocket - never in a backpack. (SFMTA)
These ideas are found in SFMTA’s website, and there are many more useful tips. 

In addition to the above ideas, the San Francisco Police is also working to lower crime rates on Muni buses. Police are riding Muni to inspect the buses and make sure nothing bad is happening. These policeman or policewoman ride Muni for about 5 blocks and then hop off. This is an example of an attempt to stop theft from happening.
Have you experienced some scary moments on Muni? I’d love to hear your story! Comment below to share!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Risk It and a Ticket

Risk it and a Ticket – Muni Cops and a Proof of Payments

Every time you board a Muni, you would have to pay $2 if you’re an adult and 75¢ if you’re 17 and under. But be sure to get a transfer if you pay in cash! That is proof that you have paid to ride Muni. I've seen people refuse the transfer after paying the fare, thinking that it’s just another piece of garbage. 

However, what they don’t know is that there are Muni cops going on buses and streetcars inspecting people for proof of payments. Proof of payments includes transfers (good for transferring between Muni for 1 ½ hours), passports (7-day or 30 day passes usually for visitors), and clipper cards. To avoid receiving a citation, have a proof of payment with you at all times! Later in this blog, I will inform you guys more about the clipper card.
Muni Transfers

Muni Passports

Muni loses about 19 million dollars because of the 8 ½ percent of people that doesn't pay what they should (SFGATE). That is the reason why SFMTA has Muni cops – they wanted to catch fare evaders and decrease the deficit. I’d say that Muni inspectors really changed a lot of people. People now fear getting a ticket of $100, so they now pay when boarding Muni.

Muni Fare Inspectors in Action

I've seen Muni fare inspectors numerous times, and are often seen in groups of three or more. Sometimes, they work with the police as well, because I've seen some police officers with inspectors in the Stonestown station. Most of the time, they are polite, and I've seen some nice fare inspectors that helped an elderly person pay their fare. 

Rarely do I see conflicts except for some arguments on the bus. People just usually go along with the fare inspectors and receive their citation. I believe that Muni fare inspectors are necessary to keep things in order, and to close the deficit gap as well. Knowing the different ways of how to pay is very important, and the most popular way of paying is by clipper cards.  

Clipper cards were introduced around 2010. At first, clipper cards were called Translink, and a limited amount of people used it. After Translink, it changed to clipper cards. Clipper cards are electronic passes that substitute’s paper passes. It is more convenient because it can automatically load money onto the card, so you will always have sufficient amount on the clipper card to deduct your fare. 

Clipper Card

Currently, Muni offers four different ways you can add value to the clipper card. You can add value by phone, website, vending machines, and retailer stores. Those that don’t use technology like elderly people will have to all or go to retailer stores to add value. Today, it is very widely used and if fairly convenient. Just tap your clipper card on the machine near the doors on the bus and you’re ready to roll! Do you have a story you want to share about Muni fare inspectors or clipper cards? Comment below! I’d like to hear your story!

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Artistic Side and Sanitation

Graffiti and Sanitation

As most of you have noticed, a lot of Muni buses have some sort of graffiti on the seats, windows, or even on the floor and the roof of the bus. These people vandalize the bus just so they can express their artistic side of them, but in the meantime, they are wasting taxpayer’s money. Muni uses money to clean up the graffiti on the buses, and Muni gets money from taxes, so they are wasting our money. 

Every year, Muni uses around 12.5 million dollars to clean, repaint, or replace parts of the buses that have been vandalized (SF Public Press). With that amount of money, we can use it to improve sanitation or replace the defective security cameras. We should not have to waste so much money on cleaning up graffiti.

Graffiti on Muni buses

I have seen people vandalizing Muni many times, but I have not done anything. Once, I witnessed a boy that was 15 or 16 years old take out a permanent marker and draw on the places where the ads were. However, I was too young at the time so I couldn't really do anything. But today, it’s much easier to report these people, and is much safer as well, because they won’t know.
Graffiti on where the ads are placed

As a result, Muni is cooperating with the San Francisco Police to catch people who vandalize Muni buses. Muni provides a number to text to if you see graffiti happening, so they can arrest those people that are wasting our tax money and to prevent these incidents from occurring again. The number is 415 – 710 -4455. This will then be reported to the police to catch these people. 
Graffiti on Streetcars
According to the SF Public Press, there have been 53 arrests since January 2010 to May 2011. If these efforts to catch graffiti vandals continue, we can lower the number of people vandalizing and decrease the amount of money we waste.

Another problem that arises is sanitation. We all hope that every bus is as clean as possible, with no crushed goldfish on the floor, strands of hair sticking in the corner of the window, or even gum stuck on the floor. Unfortunately, that will take time to improve. 

Just yesterday, I stepped on a piece of gum while sitting down. The gum, of course, stuck to my shoe. Well, I couldn’t really do anything but write on this blog how unhappy I was and hope that Muni will improve their service.  Hopefully, we can spend the 12.5 million dollars on creating a cleaner Muni bus rather than spending it on cleaning graffiti. 

That would really improve Muni service and less people will complain how dirty the Muni buses are. Until then, you can comment on this blog if you are angry how dirty the buses are!

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Buses, Old Buses

Many people including me complain how old and worn down the buses are, and they need to be replaced. There are four different types of buses that are being used by Muni today, including the new hybrid-diesel bus. The four different types of buses are still being used, and are at different parts of San Francisco. There are advantages and disadvantages to each bus, but I will not go into too much details.

The new hybrid-diesel that was integrated into the bus fleet when I was in high school is very environmentally friendly. I was very excited when I actually saw one of the new buses, which was in 2007. They give out less pollution into the air, therefore not increasing the rate of global warming. In my opinion, the hybrid buses are more stuffy and dark than the regular buses. 

Also, when hybrids go up a steep hill, I feel that there is not enough power, whereas the regular buses that have been used for more than ten years had less of a problem going up the hill. This is partially because the hybrids use less fuel, and in return, less horsepower. But since I support for having less pollution, I will support the new hybrids!
Hybrid Buses

There are also electric buses that have been used for a long time. These buses don’t pollute the environment at all, but I always hope they would get rid of them. These electric buses are slow, noisy, and the interior of the bus is dirty all the time, because it lacks maintenance. 

I get angry especially when the electric wire connected to the wires on top disconnect. We waste a couple of minutes sitting on the bus and wait for the bus driver to hop off, pull on the wires so that it connects back on the voltage, and hop back on the bus. In the meantime, all the cars behind it stay waiting as well, causing traffic congestion. I usually avoid riding these electric buses as much as possible, but I had to because I would not get to my workshop without riding the 22 Fillmore line.
Trolley Buses

As for the regular muni buses, they run 100% on fuel so I have no complaints, except that I see black fumes coming out of exhaust pipes every time. Fortunately, Muni will soon replace all the regular buses with new hybrid buses, which costs Muni $36.9 million (SF Gate). Muni tries to improve their service by buying new buses and switch the old ones away. 

Regular Muni Buses

These new buses, as stated in the article, will look very similar to those hybrid buses that are being used today, except without stairs. I can’t wait to ride in these new buses! Would you like to ride in these new buses? Write a comment and share your thoughts!