"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rookie BART Passengers: Tips to an easy commute

With the Bay Bridge closure, many have decided to take BART, mostly because of their frequent service versus the ferry boats that runs on a rigid fixed schedule that's not that frequent.

There's a hot debate going on in the SFGate comments area regarding an article about an increase in ridership on BART due to the bridge closure and the problems with new riders to the system.

Although I'm not one of the daily commuters on BART, I do understand basic transportation courtesy about that particular agency. One of the easiest things a rookie passenger should do is to visit BART's website and learn about the system, from where to transfer, how to register a parking space, and how much the fare is. By being prepared, you'll be ready for the commute.

I'm going to share my tips for rookies to have a great experience on BART:
  1. Always know where your nearest BART station is located and know the local bus routes to get there.
  2. If you need to take your car, you should review the BART parking maps, and their rules and regulations on their website.
  3. If you are getting dropped-off, don't do it in a bus zone. The cops love writing $250 tickets.
  4. The BART parking lots costs a little bit of money on weekdays, but are typically free on weekends and after 3PM on weekdays. If you must pay, remember your parking stall number and register it within the train station. If you want to get a guaranteed parking spot, always go on BART's website and prepay for a reserved parking space.
  5. Don't wait in line to buy a ticket at the machine, get a high value ticket at many of your favorite retail outlets. You'll eventually use up the funds.
  6. If you don't want to hassle with tickets, get a TransLink card.
  7. Always line-up before the train arrives. When the train arrives, move away from the doors and let the passengers exit first. The first person in line boards first, followed by the rest. If that's not your train, tell your passengers behind you to pass-by.
  8. The train is not a place to disrespect. Never eat food, drink beverages, hog more than one seat, clip your nails, make cell phone calls, fart (passing gas, dutch oven, etc.), and don't sit in the seats for the elderly or disabled (unless if you meet that criteria).
  9. If the car you boarded is crowded, move to the next car. Don't be afraid to move to the next car while the train is in motion.
  10. Always be prepared to exit the train.
  11. When using the escalator, standees should stay to the right, and people walking up the escalator should stay to the left.
With all this mumbo jumbo going on about how safe the bridge is going to be after they re-open it, why not stick to public transit? There's less pollution spewing in the air, traffic jams won't be so bad, and you save more money with a commuter benefits program.

Hokubei Mainichi Newspaper Shutters Friday

It's shocking to hear the Nichi Bei Times disappeared not long ago, but it's even worse to hear that the second major Japanese American newspaper institution, the Hokubei Mainichi is going to end their news service with it's last edition tomorrow (Friday).

These newspapers are the lifeblood of the Bay Area Japanese American communities, especially San Francisco's Japantown. People rely on these newspapers for important information about events around their communities and important community issues.

This doesn't leave us with many media options out there. The Rafu Shimpo is the Buddhist Church's newspaper, and the Pacific Citizen is a newspaper operated by the Japanese American Citizens League with their primary news office in Southern California.

Sure, the Nichi Bei foundation is trying to get themselves going, but it lost a lot of its readership after the last edition of the Nichi Bei Times notified people that their current subscription is to abruptly end and they must pay to subscribe to the "foundation's" newspaper.

On a final note, I do miss the Nichi Bei Times and Hokubei Mainichi. Without their efforts to spread the word about the redress movement to get compensation and an apology from the federal government for sending Japanese Americans to internment camps, the effort would have been even more difficult. I appreciate their hard work to cover the news on projects I have helped lead that have made a difference to the Japantown community, including the "Save Japantown" movement and to fight back from mean criticism from the folks at 1600 Webster.

These newspapers are the lifeblood of Japantown, please don't go away forever.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Has Muni Hit Rock Bottom?

Here's a good question for everyone, has San Francisco's Muni hit rock bottom?

If you are wondering... "why are you asking this Akit?" I'm concerned about the state of our public transportation system. It's been in such a decline for nearly a decade, ever since the infamous "meltdown" on the Muni metro system and immediately spreads to the rest of the agency's bus lines.

The meltdown was a sign of big anger for the city, and the head guy at that time came under fire. Mayor Willie Brown promised to fix Muni, but that didn't last. Even our previous mayor (before Brown), Frank Jordan came under fire for eliminating transfers and raising the cost of a fast pass.

But it looks like under the Gavin Newsom era, things don't seem to be going in the right path for our transit agency.

Take a look at the list of items that I believe have made Muni simply hit rock bottom:
  1. Passenger injuries are creating crazy settlements. I just witnessed one recently at West Portal inbound when a lady injured her ankle upon boarding the train because the driver forgot to raise the stairs.
  2. More frequently broken-down buses. If you ride a bus line with a 20 minute or 30 minute headway and it doesn't show-up due to a breakdown, you'd be pissed that you would have to wait much longer.
  3. Muni metro is a total insult to our city. It's almost every single day that there's some kind of problem with the light rail system.
  4. Letting NIMBYs get their way, like the folks on Union who didn't want articulated buses in their neighborhood, even though it's a fact that the bus line is at crush loads on the regular 40-foot buses.
  5. More violence on the vehicles. A kid stabbed and no video footage? A fight that got over 500,000 views in 48 hours?
  6. What happened to preventative maintenance?
  7. More graffiti, and some of the places they graffiti is impossible to remove.
  8. Bad passengers who really need a swift boot up their ass. You don't have the right to hog three seats with your legs or clip your nails in public.
  9. Transit bus drivers that should have been fired a long time ago.
  10. A really messed-up union. They tried to file an injunction against KGO-TV from letting them get public records on driver complaints.
What does it take in this city to get Muni on the brighter end? The New York Subway system gained an infamous reputation for its graffiti, broken down trains, and nearly on the verge of collapse in the 1980's. This was because the government didn't invest in the trains and money was being funneled towards freeways and bridges for cars. But look at New York now, they have a clean and well operated transit system with tons of police. It's like Muni is the 1980's version of the New York subway.

It's time for San Francisco to reinvest in it's public transportation system NOW. Saying there's "no money" is never an excuse; an easy way to get money is by simply firing the top brass of Muni and hiring new folks at much less pay.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Akit's Furlough Adventures 5 & 6

Courtesy of a furlough program by my employer at SF State, everyone got a four-day weekend covering Friday to Monday. Too bad I have to return to work tomorrow, otherwise I'd lose more than 10% of my paycheck that's already been cut.

As promised, I'm keeping up with documenting my furlough days with "adventures" to various Bay Area locations. I'm combining both furlough days in one blog posting.

Friday, October 23, 2009
: I went in at 9:30AM to the California Academy of Sciences. Since I'm a member, admission was relatively quick and I was able to secure a ticket for the new planetarium show that is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.

Coral Reef Cal Academy
This photo is of the Philippine coral reef tank at the lowest level of the Academy. This tank is one of the most popular spots of the aquarium due to its large size, seating, and a scheduled talk with a person in scuba gear. Since I got in at the earliest time, there was no crowds and I had the entire space for myself for at least 10 minutes. No screaming kids and it was absolutely quiet; something we adults need badly at museums and exhibitions.

African Penguins
The African penguins is popular exhibit at the Academy. While some stay on the rocks, many dive into the water and are playful with the people when they run their fingers over the glass. I was trying to kill time before I had to line-up to gain entry to the planetarium.

Free Muni Rides (The Ligit Way?)
After the planetarium, I ate lunch down at Kiki's on 9th Avenue between Lincoln and Irving, a sister restaurant to Kitaro's on Geary. Cheaply priced sushi and their cooked lunches are tasty. After eating a good meal, it was a hop on the N-Judah where the ride was "free" thanks to a broken fare box. I was planning to visit Chinatown, but it was getting too late and I eventually turned back for the long bus ride journey home.

Monday, October 26, 2009: After seeing an ad in the Chronicle about the Star Trek Exhibition at the San Jose Tech Museum, I thought I'd give it a try. It took a lot of planning, especially that I didn't want to drive down there. Instead, I planned out to park my car at Daly City BART and take the Caltrain Baby Bullet Express from Millbrae.

Daly City BART
Parking at Daly City BART wasn't that bad, the lot wasn't even 1/4 full at 7:30AM. I actually found a great parking spot after I reserved a space on BART's website and paid a $4.50 fee. The thing I hate about BART south of Daly City is the not so frequent service; direct Millbrae trains run on 15 minute frequencies, so timing was important to not miss the Caltrain express.

TransLink Caltrain Millbrae Station
Hey, look... TransLink! It's a little beat-up, but it worked perfectly fine.

Millbrae Caltrain Northound Train
Here's a northbound train heading towards San Francisco. It was one of a few trains passing by while I was waiting for the express. It turned out that the express train I was riding was the original Caltrain cars and it was a heck of a bumpy ride.

Unfortunately, the Tech Museum banned photography at the Star Trek exhibit. The $25 cost is totally not worth it. I'm only a mild Trekkie fan, but I remember most of the TV shows and films. There's a ton of props (some replicas and actual), many costumes, and some opportunities to take photos with official designated photographers who want to rip your butt off. Some things didn't even look right, including there was parts of the exhibits showing their wear and tear, holes in some of the displays (from a previous show?), lighting was poor, and the exhibit route was really odd.

The best traveling exhibition at the Tech Museum was the human bodies about a year or two ago, and that was amazing to view. For the Star Trek exhibit, I was expecting more interactive exhibits. When Star Trek was at the old California Academy of Sciences, it was very interactive, you can touch the screens, and play interactive games while learning about the world of Star Trek. The only "interactive" thing they offered was a $5 simulator ride that was below par.

If you were to compare the Tech Museum's Star Trek exhibit to the one at the Las Vegas Hilton, the Hilton kicks this traveling show to the ground and keeps on stomping hard.

Just to make matters worse, you also get admission to the Tech Museum and there was hundreds of kids playing with everything there. Tons of them are very disrespectful, including ones who thinks it's fun to play around escalators.

So after all this bullshit and spending less than 90 minutes in San Jose, I left on the next local Caltrain back home.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

TransLink Card Updates: The Gold Nuggets of Monday's Meeting (Corrected)

Monday (sorry, it's not Friday), The TransLink Management Group will be meeting at the MTC headquarters to hear updates and discuss about the "one card Bay Area" program. The agenda has been released today.

Instead of making you read all the bureaucratic crap mentioned in the PDF documents, here's all the gold nuggets I found:
  • For September 2009, there was an average of 38,640 transactions per weekday.
  • The "Direct Benefits Program" is a new program provided by TransLink and allows employers to skip the middleman (Commuter Check, WageWorks, etc.) by having the employer simply add funds on a website, and the employee uses the website with the credits to purchase TransLink based passes or electronic cash.
  • Samtrans and VTA is planned to be in "revenue ready" status by April 15, 2010.
  • Samtrans is in the process of installing equipment. New buses being built will have the basic wiring pre-installed for faster installation of the electronic fare collection equipment.
  • VTA will install equipment in November.
  • New automated add value machines will arrive and be installed at the "Temporary Transbay Terminal" in November. The terminal is slated to open in early 2010.
  • Senior citizens can apply for a properly coded TransLink card during a three day period in November at Embarcadero Muni/BART.
  • There's a notation of a proposed plan to include the SFMTA/Muni late night transfer as part of TransLink, but is noted down as "declined by contractor."
  • TransLink is looking to replace the slot loading "contact card" readers with contactless readers. Slot-loading machines are used on automated add value machines, and in-person ticket offices and retail locations. (This step could be a major push to change TransLink cards with a gold contact chip to a non-contact chip; but either way, it maintains their proximity card properties. This could also be a step to the creation of "mini" cards, popularized in Hong Kong)

But I think I found the biggest gold nugget in the bunch:
TransLink is looking into what is called a "pass accumulator" where if the total transactions of a particular agency or agencies adds-up to a certain amount, the passenger would not pay any more because it would equal to the price of a monthly/weekly/daily pass. During the early pilot several years ago, VTA passengers who rode vehicles, paid with e-cash, and accumulated charges equal to a day pass would have their future rides on the agency for the day as no-charge or free.

TransLink is working on a proposal to make it a "regional day pass accumulator." Although there are no specific details, I would understand the program would be like having a day pass for riding all the transit agencies in the Bay Area, but in this situation, it would be that in a 24-hour period, if a customer tags their card and accumulates charges up to the price of this "day pass," the remaining rides for the day is considered free.

It's an interesting concept to have a day pass program for the entire region. It may not be worthwhile for some, but for those long distance passengers on agencies that don't have monthly passes (i.e. Golden Gate Transit/Ferry and BART), this may be a good deal, especially if you have to take multiple transit agencies to commute.


The next management group meeting is scheduled for November 23rd. I'll provide updates when the next agenda and Powerpoint presentations are released to the public.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No more grocery store bags? This has gone too far

I need to admit to an error; as Brittney Gilbert pointed out, it was not a ban on paper bags, it's a ordinance to have all stores give a small credit to shoppers who bring their own. While I admit to this mistake, I am not editing the portion below; I feel that it is important to show that there is the possibility the city may try to ban paper bags in the future, but encouraging stores to give a credit is the first step in a possible ban.


There's nothing worse than hearing in the Chronicle that San Francisco's Board of Supervisors wants to go further in their banning of free bags being handed out at grocery stores, major drugstores, and other places that makes over a certain limit in profits per year.

Sure, banning plastic bags is a good idea because they cause a lot of harm when thrown away; but it has been demonstrated that when grocery stores collect used plastic bags, they can be used to make helpful items like benches. There's a bench made out of recycled plastic shopping bags at the Lucky supermarket at Lakeshore Plaza at the left entrance.

There's the new "green" plastic bags that claim to be recyclable and can be thrown in compost; but the bags sure feel like just regular plastic bags, but are sometimes not compatible with specific policies about recycling, depending on which city or county you live in.

While San Francisco has the longest list of items that can be recycled or composted, like any plastic item with a numbered symbol and even plastic forks; plastic bags are truly the gray zone of what can be recycled/composted or not, and neither has the city really made it clear to us what is OK and what is not. I would assume that the bags made from corn are OK to compost, but even I'm confused.

But how about now? Supervisor Ross wants to ban paper bags? How low can this city really go? How can you ban the essential item that helps us carry multiple items around on the bus or up the long flight of stairs? Do you expect every citizen of this city to carry a reusable bag in their pocket wherever they go, even in situations where you forgot to get the groceries, and now you have to carry it all in your hands or buy a $2 sack? At least paper bags are accepted everywhere to be recycled and they can always be re-used for helpful purposes, from making textbook covers to neatly packing newspaper for recycling (this was an old policy by the garbage company when we all received little blue bins).

In one point of view, if the city enforced a no-bag policy at the places that currently are using the no plastic bag rule, it may be considered the death of supermarkets, pharmacies, and drug stores. It may be a boon for the little markets like in Chinatown where the red colored bag is standard (maybe good luck?), but don't expect a happy corporation to stay in our city, or local citizens grumpy enough that now they have to pick-up their dog poop in a paper bag that may leak.

I have to ask myself, isn't there more important things the city should handle than debating over what type of bag we should be using for shopping? Muni is still not fixed, we've got a lame duck mayor, and surely the homeless problem is getting worse.

It's time to start shopping in Daly City; home to the words "paper or plastic" and styrofoam. Hell, my workplace is less than a mile from the border and just an extra half-mile to Westlake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Van Ness Muni Station Flood - It Happened Before

With the crazy amount of rain in San Francisco yesterday, Van Ness flooded like crazy, and is especially evident in this locally popular video on YouTube of the Van Ness Muni metro station having a waterfall on the stairwell.

I recalled that happened before, at least five years ago when I was a student at City College of San Francisco and I would commute on the Muni metro from Montgomery. On a really bad rainy day, I was riding the subway and at Van Ness, I noticed with the gasp of my fellow passengers, a rush of water going down the stairwell. I soon learned later over the PA system that Muni declared the station "closed," but kept the trains running.

In yesterday's flood, Muni only had to shut-down for 20 minutes. After that period, trains operated, but avoided Van Ness station.

My big question to the city and SFMTA is, this looks like a repeat problem. What went wrong? I've never seen any other Muni metro station flood like how Van Ness did.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Castro Halloween 2009? Newsom, Dufty, & Perry says NO

It's Halloween time again in San Francisco and we are just 15 days away from kids trick-or-treating in front of your house, or the adults hanging out at their favorite bar or street for a cool orange colored themed drink.

But come on... where's the biggest party going to be at? Where else? The CASTRO!

Since 2007, I've been advocating in support of continuing the Halloween tradition in the Castro district, and in 2009, this will be my third year of flicking my middle finger at Mayor Gavin Newsom, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and P.R. a-hole David Perry.

So once again, the Mayor's office in support with David Perry's P.R. campaign has re-done "Home for Halloween" 2009 to promote you to keep your ass away from the Castro district. Hmmm... a third year you say?

Let's recall the last two years:
  • In 2007: David Perry and Mayor Newsom shut-down the Castro and encouraged neighborhood businesses to not open in the evening of Halloween (at a cost of $40,000 of taxpayer money). People still came, and the places that defied Perry and Newsom's request saw a huge boom in business with people lining up for good eats and drinks. As for the ones that closed, they regretted doing it because they lost money. Dufty promised that the city will host an organized event in the Castro the following year, but broke his promise (see below).
  • In 2008: The city decided to host an alternate event at the parking lot at AT&T Park and spent $500,000+ of taxpayer money, but also spending an untold amount of money to stop people from going to the Castro. It turned out to be the biggest bust ever when hardly anyone showed-up to AT&T Park, and many decided to party on the sidewalks of the Castro district since the city banned the event to leach onto the road.

Doesn't this city get it? People want to party at the original home of Halloween in San Francisco. So why not spend our hard earned tax dollars to host a legitimate event with the neighborhood where the city can have officers screen people for weapons and illegal drugs, and if need be, offer very low priced admission to cover the costs of permits, clean-up, and other related problems. If we want to help our fellow businesses in this tough economy, don't ban the event, encourage it so people will shop and eat.

By letting your city invest into David Perry's pockets, you are giving this jackass taxpayer money to tell people to get the f*** away from the Castro; but noticing last year's reaction where people still came out to that neighborhood, the Mayor should switch sides, especially if he wants to get elected to be Governor.

So I encourage you, resist the temptation of partying at home and ship your butt to the Castro. Let's give Newsom, Dufty, and Perry the

Why not piss-off David Perry a few more times?
-- Suggest a Halloween event on his website and simply mention the event title to be: "HALLOWEEN IN THE CASTRO!"
--Give a "one star" rating on his YouTube video. He banned comments (asshole).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Parking Meter Hours Extended? Not the greatest idea

If San Francisco has learned anything, extending the meter enforcement hours is a really bad idea. Remember how bad it got in Oakland when meter maids went nuts ticketing the hell out of every little thing and extending parking hours to 8PM? Business lost at least 30% of their customers, and the people got their wish by scaling it back to 6PM.

If you notice on this map supplied by the Chronicle, we are screwed.

By the look of this map, it almost looks like every single parking meter is highlighted with proposed changes, including the ones at SF State University that would be extended to 9PM (pointless idea, most students leave the campus at 4PM).

Sure, I can understand the city is broke, but if you raise parking rates, how much will that affect the businesses such as restaurants and stores? Will they pay for parking after 6PM in the city's hot spots or neighborhood places? The answer is no. And once business drops, that's less taxpayer money the business owes to the feds, state, and city/county, which means that it doesn't just affect our city, it affects our state and nation.

In some areas, meter hours extension is not necessary. Take for example, Irving Street; Irving is popular during the day hours, but there's not many people around during the dinner hours where most people either do take-out, or for the lucky few, find a restaurant to sit down and have a nice dinner.

But on a slightly brighter note, I do support Sunday meter enforcement, but only in certain areas. Places like the businesses on Irving, Clement, Geary between Park Presidio and 25th Avenue, and the 9th Avenue (Inner Sunset) areas really need Sunday enforcement because parking is such a pain in the ass in these areas. On Irving, I labeled one person an "old vulture" because she was double parking on Irving FOREVER waiting for any car to move and take on the spot; while I was going around the block and seeing her several times.

This idea sucks, and it's time to give the SFMTA a piece of our minds and our middle fingers. If you can go to a public hearing, give it to them. If you can't make that, how about just raiding a Board of Supervisors hearing?

Monday, October 12, 2009

PGA Presidents Cup - Needs Improvements in Public Relations

The 2009 Presidents Cup golf tournament at San Francisco's Harding Park has just came to an end... oh, and some more fun news... THE PGA TOUR IS COMING BACK IN OCTOBER 2010 (Schwab Cup) AND 2011 (Champion's tour). I'm cursing out loud right now.

But out of this huge event there's a few details that our city officials and the Presidents Cup organizers didn't do or tell the public about.


One in particular is the information provided by the PGA Tour about the free shuttle service. The Presidents Cup website released two different maps with different information.

The first map was posted on their website before the tournament started and mentioned that the end of Muni's N-Judah line was to provide free shuttle service to the event, but the second map that was posted no more than one week before the tournament shows the shuttle service from the N-Judah terminal does not exist. Why did this happen?

You may also notice that the Westlake parking lot is not mentioned on the second map, but sure is on the first one. But I know that the lot was used for the event.


There were also areas designated as parking areas for the event, but was not mentioned on the event's website:

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the City and County of San Francisco owns the Ocean Beach parking lot (although, U.S. Government police shoos cars away in the late evening), and has failed, once again, to notify the public that part of the lot is to be used for the exclusive use of the PGA Presidents Cup for nearly a week. Great idea... piss-off the surfers.


As for road closures, I don't see it amusing when after the event is over each day, the city does not remove any of the signage telling people that an upcoming road is closed. One in particular is going northbound on Skyline and there's this big electronic arrow telling people to merge left, but it's 8PM and Skyline is completely open and can be driven through between Great Highway and Sloat.


Here's a strange parking problem... street parking was banned on Lake Merced between Winston and Font, but I didn't see any shuttle buses or anything else taking advantage of those parking spaces. So why ban parking within that area?

Since it was not utilized, SF State students and the rest of the public should have been given the privilege to park there.


Did the PGA and the city take my advice in 2005 to notify the people of San Francisco State University by advertising in the Golden Gate [X]Press newspaper? The answer is no.

The campus population reads the weekly newspaper, so a few thousand bucks to advertise and tell the 36,000+ student, staff, and faculty population about this major event would have helped ease some of the frustration.


Lastly, SFMTA/Muni did not post sufficient information about the re-routes for the 18-46th Avenue bus line in a timely manner. They posted the information online on Monday, ONE DAY BEFORE THE EVENT STARTED.

To make things even worse, 311 did not have any information available until Sunday (two days before the event started on that Tuesday) and the information about the re-routes and skipped stops are only known as "Muni Notice #09-268" in which would be difficult to get in writing, unless if you got it via a Sunshine Request.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

BART Access for Senior & Disabled Muni Pass Users?

As many San Franciscans already know, if you have an adult Muni fast pass, you can ride BART within San Francisco for no charge.

But how about Muni patrons who are disabled or a senior citizen?

It's very interesting news that both the BART and Muni's Board of Directors have agreed on a pilot program in 2008 to try out senior and disabled passes on the BART system within San Francisco for eighteen months. It took BART a year to prepare and set-up this program on their fare gates.

Muni is looking for volunteers to try out this program for six month periods (a total of three trial periods), and will be selected out of a random lottery conducted by the SFMTA. A total of 2,000 people will participate in this program and will not cost anything extra (it's still $15).

But there are some strict rules that people must follow:
  1. For disabled customers, you need your RTC discount card; Seniors need to have their state issued ID card or their RTC card. No ID, no participation.
  2. People who are picked for the program can only purchase their pass at three designated locations: SFMTA customer service center, Montgomery station, and the Cable Car turnaround ticket booth at Powell and Market.
  3. The pass is available for purchase only on the third week of the month (usually only a four to five day window).
  4. You agree to do occasional surveys.
  5. The pass must be carried with an RTC card or photo ID at all times (it's a universally understood policy for all transit agencies).
From the sound of this, it looks like participants will receive a paper pass, even if a person is disabled and use a monthly Muni sticker for the RTC card.

Muni stated on their website, their long-term goal is if this pilot program is successful, they want to integrate the paper passes to the Translink program. It's actually better for Muni to pilot this program with paper passes because Cable Cars and the "rare" (non-PCC and Milan) F-Market streetcars are not equipped with Translink technology.

To learn more, and/or to register for the lottery: visit this website or call San Francisco 311.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Muni fight on the 30-Stockton

If you think San Francisco is wacky enough, wait until you look at this video of two women on the 30-Stockton going out of Chinatown (via the Stockton Tunnel) towards Union Square.

It's the talk of the town right now, it boomed to over 85,000 views in just 24-hours. Someone call Jerry Springer and get them on his show right now!

If you want to, forward to 1:15 to see the fight.

PGA President's Cup Days 3, 4, 5, & 6: Parking and Muni Updates

Good day to everyone; I'm listing down the next four days of updates for the President's Cup at San Francisco's Harding Park because I'm taking the day off on Friday and I won't go near the area during the weekend.

So basically, here's some reminder notices for everybody:

  • If you can, please take public transit. Free shuttles available after riding the N-Judah and L-Taraval. Free shuttles also pick-up at Daly City BART.
  • Warning: Do not park at Daly City BART and catch a golf shuttle. Your car will get towed because passengers are required to register their parking space in the "paid" area of the station.
  • Reminders: Watch out for parking restrictions within the SFSU and Parkmerced areas. Many have time limits and DPT watches those spaces frequently.
  • Watch out for a heavy police presence around the area. Speeding and running red lights will likely get you caught.
  • Speed limit on Lake Merced Blvd. in San Francisco between Winston and the Daly City border is 40 MPH. It drops to 30 once entering Daly City, and the police is watching out for speeders.
  • If you need an alternate route to SFSU without messing with Sunset Blvd., try this route: At Sloat, take Middlefield going south, turn left onto Sunset, and turn left onto State Drive or Font. This shortcut saves you from the traffic mess happening at "Sunset Circle" (the big parking lot known for trainee Muni drivers practicing their parking techniques).
  • As usual, re-routes are in force for the 18-46th Avenue and 88-BART shuttle. This is in effect from 6AM to 7PM daily.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

PGA President's Cup Day 2: Traffic, Parking & Muni Updates

Good morning everyone; today is day two of the PGA President's Cup golf tournament in San Francisco's Harding Park and is the second and final day of the practice round.

Here's your updates for today:

  • Normal heavy traffic on Lake Merced Blvd. northbound from Brotherhood Way to Font.
  • Police and city parking officials are on northbound Skyline near Great Highway to help ease the congestion due to the closure north of Skyline at Great Highway. There is no need to get into the far left lane anymore, the right lane will lead into one of the two designated left turn lanes leading to Great Highway.
  • Westbound John Muir Drive is open. It's supposed to be shut-down.

  • WARNING to all event specators: Parking in the SFSU and Parkmerced regions have either one hour, two hour, or four hour limit parking (unless if you have a resident/neighborhood permit). The city parking officials don't joke around, they frequently patrol the area every weekday to catch SFSU students.

  • My regular 18-46th Avenue bus driver stated that she is the only "regular" driver on the line today. She claims that everyone else called in sick. Prepare to get motion sickness folks, the substitutes tend to jam the gas pedal harder.
  • Re-routes are in force for the 18-46th Avenue and 88-BART shuttle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

PGA President's Cup Day 1: Traffic & Muni Updates

Good morning everyone. This is your unofficial traffic and Muni update for day number one of the PGA President's Cup golf tournament at Harding Park in San Francisco.

  • Road closures as followed: Skyline between Lake Merced Blvd. and Great Highway, and Herbst road. Strangely, the city has not yet closed down westbound John Muir Drive.
  • Heavy traffic northbound on Skyline from John Muir to Great Highway. Right lane approach to Skyline/Great Highway intersection is coned off about 500 feet away from intersection; try to merge into the left lane as quickly as possible.
  • Heavy traffic northbound on Lake Merced blvd. before Brotherhood Way. Traffic clears-up once you reach State Drive (SF State's main road).
  • 18-46th Avenue is operating modified route as stated here. No direct service to the Janet Pomeroy Center. To reach the homes at John Muir Drive when going towards Legion of Honor, take the 18 and transfer at 46th Avenue and Ulloa for the bus going back to Stonestown.
  • 88-BART service for the A.M. Peak hours is running a normal schedule.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Traffic and Muni Alert: PGA Presidents Cup at Harding Park

It's back... the PGA tour is back at the Harding Park golf course that is located on Lake Merced and next door to SF State University. What does this mean to you if you are within the region? Let's take a look:

The "region" I am describing is as followed and covers the likely areas where problems and issues may arise:
  • North border: Sloat Blvd.
  • South border: John Muir Drive (southern rim of Lake Merced and straddles between SF and DC border).
  • East border: 19th Avenue
  • West border: Great Highway and Skyline Blvd.


I called 311 to find out about the re-routes for the 18-46th Avenue and BART shuttle, and the news is not very good.


The 18-46th Avenue bus line is going to hell:

  • Going towards Stonestown (SF State area): At 47th and Sloat, re-route turns right on Sloat, left on Great Highway, right on Skyline, and continues normal route. Route will skip: SF Zoo, Skyline & Sloat, Herbst road (Disabled center, SF Zoo staff entrance), Harding park entrance/sewage plant entrance.
  • It's "normal" route (map points "A" to "B") would turn left on Sloat, right on Skyline blvd., and turn into Herbst Road before continuing on Skyline.
  • Going towards Legion of Honor: At Winston & Lake Merced, re-route turns right onto Lake Merced (northbound), left before road changes to Sunset Blvd., continues down Lake Merced Blvd, turns right onto Skyline, and bus continues normal route.
  • It's "normal" route between map points "A" and "B" would turn left at Lake Merced/Winston, go southbound on Lake Merced, turn right on John Muir Drive, turn right on Skyline, and continue on it's route to map point "C" and turn right on 46th Avenue.

When you take a look at the maps, it shows a poor planning from the SFMTA/Muni. Look at the huge gap of service on the lower map, it literally removes all stops from Lake Merced/Winston, John Muir Drive, and Skyline (including the Center for the Disabled on Herbst).

Muni 18-46th Avenue Problems (Lake Merced & Font) due to PGA Presidents Cup

I have officially lodged a complaint via 311's phone line about the 18's route changes:
  1. You cannot disenfranchise service to these remote areas on the southern rim of Lake Merced (not boulevard, it's the lake) by not having the re-routes try its best to cover the areas where the roads are closed.
  2. The re-route removes all bus service to the Center for the Disabled; who will supplement service for this problem?
  3. The route going towards the Legion of Honor is the worst because it skips all the stops on Lake Merced Blvd. south of Winston, and the homes on John Muir drive near Skyline. Every time I ride the 18, I see SFSU students who live on John Muir hop on the bus and pay the $2 fare for a short 5 minute ride, versus walking 30 minutes on the very long walk to/from campus.
  4. How about the old and disabled people who depend on that bus line to these far away regions? Do you know how far you have to walk?
UPDATE: SFMTA/Muni finally posted the re-route information (but hidden from the SFMTA website; I found it on 511)... but I was FASTER TO POST THIS ON MY BLOG!!!

For the 88-BART shuttle:
  • Inbound towards Balboa Park Station will operate normally.
  • Outbound will be re-routed due to closure of westbound John Muir Drive. At southbound Lake Merced Blvd. and Font (corrected), bus will continue on Lake Merced, cross the Daly City border, turn right on John Daly Blvd., turn right on Skyline Blvd., cross San Francisco border, and turn right onto John Muir Drive eastbound.


In this situation, there will be road closures around the golf course. This information is posted on the SFMTA's website, under the ISCOTT minutes (see here), be aware that this information is NOT yet posted on the "alerts" page of both SFMTA and 511.

Here's the road closures:
  • John Muir Drive between Lake Merced blvd. and Skyline (westbound only).
  • Herbst street (home to the Center for the Handicapped, SF Zoo staff entrance, and the National Guard).
  • Skyline between Lake Merced Blvd. (the road that goes around the north west portion of the lake) and Great Highway.
While there is no official posting about this, expect delays anywhere around the region, even if the roads are open to traffic:
  • Lake Merced blvd. between Sloat and Brotherhood will be bad, especially with the extra spectator entrance they've installed near Font.
  • You can still take Skyline, but you are forced to use Great Highway to go around the closure between Great Highway and Lake Merced.
  • I won't bet on this, but Sunset Blvd. may become a nightmare going Southbound.

SF State University students, staff, and faculty... what should you do?
  1. If you are going to park in the garage, bring your campus ID. Campus cops will kick-out any golf spectator who uses the garage that is exclusively for university affiliates.
  2. PARKING IS BANNED (see photo below) on Lake Merced Blvd. between Winston and Font. This will be a heavy impact on the campus garage due to the large amount of street parking in that area.
  3. If you are taking public transit, expect delays on the 29-Sunset and 18-46th Avenue.
  4. Arrive to campus EARLY. Get yourself a nice breakfast on-campus.
  5. If you live on John Muir drive and take the bus the campus, you may want to consider carpooling with a neighbor. Muni coverage will suck. I suggest complaining to your city supervisor and Muni officials NOW.
No Parking on Lake Merced Blvd. (Thanks Golf Tournament Idiots)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Translink Muni Fast Pass - Pass Expiration Policy & Automatic Loading

I just learned something new today about the Translink card program:

If you have a Muni monthly pass and have it automatically loaded every month (autoload program or Commuter Check), you may notice that when you tagged your card today it says your fast pass expired yesterday.

I called-up Translink and asked why. The agent said that the new pass will show-up on the Translink reader screen after the 3-day grace period for the previous month's Muni pass ends. Therefore, once the 4th of the month comes along, your new pass will show-up.

I should note that this does not screw-up your free BART rides within San Francisco.

Here's an example of what happens:
  1. I am on reoccuring purchase of monthly Muni pass for Translink.
  2. On September 30th, I'm still using my September Translink e-pass.
  3. From October 1st to October 3rd, tagging my card still shows the September pass (expiration September 30th), but the system recognizes it as OK to ride due to the 3-day grace period.
  4. On October 4th, Translink reader now says pass expires on October 31st.