"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, August 25, 2011

Akit Already Knows Muni Won't Take Action Against an 18-46th Avenue Driver - So I Will Just Report it Here

When you ride Muni on a regular basis and strictly follow the time schedule, it's likely your bus operator will be the same person. This is especially true for me when I take the 18-46th Avenue line because it operates on 20 minute frequencies during rush hours.

But when you ride with the same driver, you start to notice certain patterns that are just inappropriate, and I finally got fed-up enough to call 311 and report the driver for poor practices. But as we well know, reporting problems to Muni just gets ignored, so I'm deciding to take another step and use the power of my blog to get a wider audience.

Before I tell you about what happened, did you know that in order for Muni to take action against a bus driver, the union rules states that you have to surrender your name and contact information? I usually call 311 and just state I refuse to provide that info, but without it, Muni can't do shit.

Here's the whole story:
Bus: 8417
Line: 18-46th Avenue inbound (to Legion of Honor)
Time: Bus leaves at 6PM at Stonestown (outbound terminal for 18 line)
Driver #: Not known
Description of driver: African American male, thin build, in his 40s.

First incident: Stop at Lake Merced & Font (SF State)
I normally ride the 6:05PM bus arrival at that particular stop because it's just a short walk from my office and it takes me close to my home in the Outer Richmond District. The same driver always picks up passengers 50 feet ahead of the yellow mark on the pavement that indicates the bus must stop there to pick-up passengers.

To make it even more amusing, I flagged the driver by standing near the yellow mark as it was about 200-300 feet away, enough time for the driver to gently hit his brake and hazard lights, but every single time, pulls fifty feet ahead of the yellow mark, thereby forcing any passenger waiting there to rush over to the front door.

Here's a streetsview map from Google:

View Larger Map
On the map image, you'll see a bench on the right side, and just in front of it on the pavement is the yellow mark indicating it's a bus stop for the 18 line. All other Muni operators who drives on this line always stops very close to the yellow mark and the bench, but the regular driver of the 6PM bus doesn't; that driver pulls up to where you see the green "Font" sign, about fifty feet ahead of the bench/yellow mark.

Second incident: Stop at La Playa & Cabrillo
The bus stop at La Playa & Cabrillo next to the Safeway supermarket is a really long bus stop of about 400-500 feet, and the passenger shelter is in the middle of the long bus stop. This stop is so big because back in the day, Muni used that long red zone as a terminus for the 38-Geary Ocean Beach branch, and those articulated buses are a good 60 feet long. These days, it's not used as a terminus stop because Muni built a terminal area for the 5-Fulton and 31-Balboa in an empty lot just across the street, and the 38-Geary Ocean Beach branch doesn't exist ever since the 18 line was forced to take over that route.

Since the bus stop is so huge, the same driver always decides to pull to the very front end of the bus stop, this means the people sitting or standing near the passenger shelter has to walk about 50-75 feet just to catch this particular bus. When I ride at other times with other drivers, they stop as close to the shelter as possible, and that even includes the 31-Balboa. A lot of times, the passengers are mostly senior citizens carrying grocery bags, and making them rush to catch a bus that pulled 75 feet in front is just rude and disrespectful.

Here's what made it worse. Yesterday, the driver did the same tactic: Pull the bus to the front end of the bus stop (very close to where that white truck is). Nobody wanted to exit the bus (did not ring bell), and there was about three people sitting in the shelter. The driver slowed down upon approach to the front end of the stop, and I noticed in the window, two people standing-up wanting to catch the bus when they saw it. The driver assumed nobody wanted to board, so he picked-up speed and continued on. I took off my headphones and hollered at the driver, "wasn't there people who wanted to board?" I got no response.

By this point, I was fed-up with this driver. He doesn't give any respect to passengers pulling-up close to the passenger shelter at La Playa & Cabrillo and doesn't make an effort to stop at the yellow marking at Lake Merced & Font. Oh, but he'll allow any of his friends to board at any point along the route that's not a designated bus stop.

Now that I told my story online WILL MUNI TAKE SOME ACTION? It seems complaining to 311 just goes through the cycle of nowhere.


Zach said...

Does anyone actually look at the SFMTA's 311 complaint box? I've submitted a couple of complaints in the past after being told that I should report service failures to Muni: one about trains sitting unattended for long periods of time in Embarcadero station and blocking the tracks, one about an employee who literally turned his back on me and ignored me when I tried to ask for information when the Metro was broken down and staff weren't any making announcements, one about a 45-minute disaster of a trip from Castro to Montgomery, and one to the SFMTA Taxi Commission about a cab driver that locked the doors, demanded to know where I was going and then sped off when I told him.

In all these cases, the most I've gotten is a form letter letting me know that my request "has been forwarded to Tyrone Julian, Metro Rail Operations for investigation and resolution." The Taxi Commission didn't bother to respond at all, not even with a form letter. Certainly no investigation, resolution, or word from Tyrone Julian has ever emerged. If Tyrone does exist, I'd hate to think what his office must look like; I'm picturing unanswered correspondence packed sky high.

The issues are reported as "closed" in 311's system, so I'm sure Muni gets to keep up their statistics and show that they are responsive, but from the customer's perspective, I might as well be talking to the pigeon on the platform at Castro Station.

murphstahoe said...

Email your supervisor.

Anonymous said...

Try tweeting muni... add pictures too. They've responded to me via tweet before.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't really sound bad at all...

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain! Sounds like the buddy of a 6 Parnassus driver. For months I dreaded getting a certain late afternoon/early evening driver. He got a bizarre satisfaction stopping directly in front of trash can, not handing out transfers, making people run halfway down the block, the list goes on...glad my schedule has changed so I don't ride his bus anymore but sorry for riders who still have to deal with him.
On the flip side there's an AWESOME driver at about the same time I always hoped to get. Always the extremes with MUNI.

PCM said...

The only time I've submitted a complaint to Muni, it was through the Muni website, which redirected me to a form at sfgov.org. They require you to enter the contact info that's apparently required for anyone to take action against the driver. I actually got a (totally unexpected) email from someone at Muni several months after submitting the complaint, asking me to confirm the details of the incident in advance of a disciplinary hearing for the driver. Maybe lodging complaints via phone is less effective than doing it on the web.

Jeremy said...

i too have questioned why i call 311...but when i reported an F-line operator for dumping me on her pull-in run and not taking me to Balboa Park, i can tell you i did get a call from MUNI, with a union rep in the room on the conference call. where it went from there, i don't know, but that at least made it sound like they listened.

What i can suggest from my experiences (and other calls to 311) is to be professional (no swearing, foul language, etc.) and provide as many facts as possible..if you can't get the driver's #, the run # will help too (the 3 digit # in the box at the lower left corner of the front window of streetcar, trolley coach, bus, etc).