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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SF State/19th Avenue & Holloway Muni Metro Stop: Passengers Jumping from Platform

Would you dare to jaywalk across three lanes of traffic on one of San Francisco's busiest streets?

Let's take it up a notch, would you jump off a Muni metro platform and jaywalk across three lanes of traffic just so you don't miss your bus?

The fact is, this does happen.

Take a look at the Google Maps image I've posted.  This is the metro platform stop for the M-Ocean View line at 19th Avenue and Holloway, in front of SF State.  You are looking at the east side (inbound) platform.

On some mornings, I notice passengers who just got off the inbound M-Ocean View line decide to jump off the platform and run across those three lanes of traffic just so they can take a shortcut to the bus stop that's on the sidewalk to catch the 17, 28, or 29 lines.  The first time I saw that, it was older Chinese women who was doing this, by risking their own life trying to make it across without getting hit by an incoming car.

While it's entirely possible to jump the platform and make it to the other side, the west (outbound) platform has a fence to prevent people from jumping, especially SF State students finding a cheap way to get across without walking down the ramp and using the crosswalk.  The city has installed fencing from Holloway to Winston to prevent jaywalking, especially at the track junction that was wildly popular and very illegal to get from one side of 19th to the SF State campus.  The city had to install the fencing because there have been some instances where people walking on the tracks was hit by a train or university police had to chase down someone on the active rail tracks.

It makes me wonder, why isn't there any fencing to prevent jumpers for the inbound side of the platform?  I wouldn't dare to attempt to jump from a platform and run across three lanes of traffic on the busiest and most dangerous road in San Francisco just to catch a bus.  I'd rather walk down the ramp and use the crosswalk, even if that meant missing the bus.  It's better for the city to prevent people getting mowed by a car than installing the barrier after the fact when someone's dead or in a coma.

Maybe I should text a tip to SFPD the next time I see it happen; never mind, since they don't read it in a timely manner.

Monday, March 25, 2013

SF Police's Text a Tip411 Slow to Respond & Not Monitored 24 Hours as Promised

If you heard the announcements on Muni about reporting graffiti with a simple text on your cell phone, nobody read your messages because the agency never received them; that is, until the SF Examiner exposed the problem.  But that was back in 2010 and hopefully the system works.

There's other anonymous text a tip lines out there like SFPD's:
The San Francisco Police Department has been touting their "Text a Tip" program where a person can text the department through a third party company, and they'll determine if its of a priority nature or forward it to a station or proper department for follow-up.

Read it for yourself:
"Through computers with Internet capability, SFPD Operations personnel will view all tips received 24/7 and evaluate each one. If the tip is of an emergency nature, personnel will forward it immediately to the Department of Emergency Management for officer dispatch. They will forward all other tips for assignment to the appropriate investigative bureau or district station. Investigative units will have an Internet-capable computer at their disposal and will be able to text back and forth with the tipster based on a randomly assigned ID number that the system, provided by Citizen Observer, Inc., supplies. The ID number is wholly confidential and is maintained in the company's server."
Simple enough.  Text them, and someone who monitors the system 24/7 will pass on the message.

I've tried it on a couple of occasions for some mild things like a person who was walking in the street drunk and someone suspicious walking on our block.  Although, I'd only get confirmation hours or even a day after, giving me a hint something doesn't seem right.

Something Smells Funny
That suspicion of it not being monitored all the time came to light in a recent text message conversation between me and whomever was "monitoring" the tip line when I made a request for a patrol officer to visit our block to scare off some recycling thieves:

So I read SFPD's website and it says I addressed an issue of concern and the backend person will decide if it needs to be addressed quickly or not, but since they or whomever third party company don't man the computer all the time, why do we spend our tax dollars on this?  Also, I frown on whomever responded saying: "I don't need to read it [the SFPD website]" as I referred to misleading information on their website.  If you want to be a dick, I'll blog about it.

I'm Not a Mind Reader
Now I know what some of you are thinking, if someone was having a heart attack or a serious crime was in progress, I'd call 911; but how about those that is a lower priority request, say you catch someone ripping down garage sale signs and littering them, or someone digging in everyone's trash can on your block every single week?  If SFPD's website tells me I can text them, they'll dispatch someone, and I remain anonymous, that's pretty nice; but if they don't monitor the messaging system all the time, what's the point of having it at all or why poorly advertise it?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

After Waiting for More Than a Month - Donation Bins Finally GONE

It's finally GONE!  Took you long enough.
After an entire month of waiting and some heavy handed persistence to the city government to do something, the donation bins blocking public a parking space and meter have finally been moved away.

Initially when I reported on the bins at the corner of Evelyn and Portola, I got a surly response from San Francisco 311 that they want me to call the donation bin company for blocking a city parking space, therefore the SFMTA makes zero revenue on the parking meter.  After giving the 311 folks a kick in the shin, they forward my request to DPW to get the ball rolling.

Three weeks after my initial request, the bins still remained and the city "escalated" the issue because it was taking too long for the task to be completed.  The city contacted the company on February 11th and demanded for them to remove the bins.

Sometime within the last seven days, the bins finally departed.  I know for sure they were still there on March 2nd because I always pick-up some lotto tickets at the market on the corner.

I'm happy that the city took action to get the donation bin company to move their bins off of public property because on some weekends, the lot can get full, and the city doesn't make any revenue on the parking meter.  But I'm very disappointed at the long wait because DPW should have moved it themselves after giving a week's notice and send the bill to the donation bin company.  Those donation bin companies knows they are NOT supposed to put those on public property and should only be on private property with the permission of the land owner.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Muni Should Seriously Question How They Spend Their Money

Photo from Flickr user "Nathan Y" using a Creative Commons License

Just a week ago, it was the first day for San Francisco's youth to use their free Muni passes for sixteen months.  Sure, it was a joyous occasion for city politicians, advocates for youth, and the kids that qualified for the program, but has angered many (including yours truly) that it's a huge waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.

My primary argument: The city and Muni should be spending the several million dollars that is now being used for free rides, and actually using it towards preventative maintenance and maintaining critical systems.

So just the day before the release of the new passes for kids, something big came up, a Muni metro's passenger door fell off on the journey between Castro and Church station.  Muni metro vehicle 1439's front door fell onto the trackway, and while passengers were not injured, it sure points out the need for money for maintenance on the agency's aging fleet.

(Note: Photo used in this blog entry not the actual one of the incident)

I think all that money Muni is spending on free passes for kids is one big joke.  If a person got killed from that incident by flying out of that train, the city would be spending a huge amount of dough inspecting every single door.  But with an agency still bleeding red, how can they spend money on youth when it should be invested in prevention and repairs?  If another transformer blew in the metro system, there would be another metro meltdown because no trains can operate without electricity; I'd rather see the millions spent to maintain and possibly upgrade the transformers so it can help everybody, and not just kids getting a free ride.

As I mentioned before: Kids, you should be very fortunate that Muni gives the best discounts out of the rest of the agencies in the Bay Area.  You get a 62.5% discount (versus adult fare) with a free transfer, other agencies don't give free transfers or cut the discount to 50% or less.

There's no way to cancel the pass program, but I'm hoping the city will realize after the pilot program ends, that it's NEVER RENEWED.  Too damn expensive.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ten Annoying Things Drivers and Pedestrians Do to Tick Me Off

Driving can be pretty stressful because you have to think quick while driving.  For me, I'm pretty sharp at my driving skills and I have to quickly analyze a bunch of factors, such as: Road conditions, driving patterns of drivers around me, known dangers/risks, hazards on road, time of day, type of vehicles drivers are driving, etc.

But while I drive safe, my commute is only 20 minutes each way and every single day, I always see people do dumb things, and it's not just drivers, it's pedestrians too.

I felt the need to vent my frustration at these idiots.  Here's my list of assholes that needs to learn to be safe:
  1. If I'm on a two lane road with vehicles in front of me waiting single file near a four-way stop, it's rude and disrespectful to pass me and the other cars by driving on the curbside that's designated for street parking.  On one evening on my way home, a SUV decided to jump the line by passing nearly a dozen cars waiting single file through a four-way stop.  I noticed, opened my right window and yelled at the driver: "YOU SON OF A BITCH BASTARD!"
  2. If I'm driving the speed limit and you honk at me, flash your high beams, or tailgate me to drive faster, I won't.  Do that to me twice, here comes "the bird."
  3. Don't cut me off, especially if you are too late to be in the wrong lane for an exit or designated turn lane.  Just take the exit/turn and go around.  I nearly got into an accident after a dump truck cut me off trying to pull a last second turn.
  4. If you drive in rain or fog during the day, use your evening headlights.  It's not just the law, it's basic courtesy because it's hard to see your headlights and taillights in poor visibility.
  5. If you feel you can't make a full u-turn without the need to stop and back-up, then go around the block.  You hold up traffic if you can't fully complete that u-turn in one shot.
  6. There's a reason why the city installed countdown timers on crosswalk signals, if the countdown is happening and you haven't started crossing, JUST DON'T.  You don't have three damn seconds to cross four lanes of traffic.  There's a reason why there's a countdown, it gives drivers a chance to make a turn and gives pedestrians already crossing to pace themselves to make sure to complete the crossing before it hits zero.
  7. If you drive your car on a bike lane, you just suck.
  8. People who pass a stopped Muni metro vehicle or Cable Car that is discharging and boarding passengers.
  9. Please press the pedestrian crossing button to cross.  In some intersections, the signals intentionally give extra time to cross the street if you press the button (e.g. Winston & Lake Merced).  If you don't press it, instead of getting 15 seconds to cross, you might get less than five.
  10. Please don't risk your life trying to run for the bus by committing an illegal act like crossing against the red light/crosswalk signal or run in front of the moving bus to make it stop.  Another bus will come along shortly.
That's it for blowing some steam.  Sorry for not blogging for over a week, I had really bad seasonal allergies that ruined my week and weekend.