"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
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(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)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Akit's True Muni Stories - Crying Baby & a Beer

I thought I'd share one of my favorite true stories onboard Muni and one hell of a coincidence that it happened.

On a weekend in the afternoon, I was riding the F-Market to Fisherman's Wharf because I desperately wanted the best clam chowder at No. 9 Fisherman's Grotto (if you think it's Boudin, HA!).

During the ride on the Embarcadero, there was a very loud crying baby on the vehicle.  The mother was trying to keep the baby quiet and looking around, I saw a lot of passengers just stressed.  For me, I was saying to myself, "this is birth control for me."

At the Pier 39 stop, most of the passengers, including the crying baby hopped off.  With the very few passengers left, we all chatted about the crying kid; everyone agreed that it was just too damn loud.

I responded with a fun joke: "I could sure use a good beer right now."

Just seconds later, I hear a bottle rolling down the aisle.  It was an empty beer bottle.  The passengers looked at me in awe.  I guess it was a sign it was time for a good beer [and some chowder!].

Monday, May 20, 2013

10 Things I Wish the San Francisco Giants Would Bring Back or Improve Upon

I love my San Francisco Giants.  During the good and bad times, the warm days at AT&T Park and freezing cold days at Candlestick, and from the nosebleeds to the premium seats that had me on TV all day long, I've always been a loyal fan.

At AT&T Park, there's always new developments and innovations that makes our ballpark stand out as one of the best in the nation.  But there's always room for improvement.

I wish there were some things they can improve or bring back from the past:
  1. Every time we win the game, do they always have to play the "whoo hoo" song?  Isn't there a more recent trendy song that can get the crowd going?  Remember "Who Let the Dogs Out?"  It was great to hear that and hear the fans in the stands sing out loud.  Could we sing the Ghostbusters song when Posey hits a home run?
  2. The Giants promotes all these new food options like the Original Joes burgers and sushi, but these new creations are only sold in just one isolated location in the entire park.  Original Joes burgers are only sold near section 136 near the mini ballpark for kids, and the sushi stand is in the Club Level which means only the privileged Giants fans have access.  At least open a second stand somewhere accessible to everyone.
  3. Where's the social media hangout they planned to open at the former Build a Bear stand?  Now it's an abandoned building for the last few homestands.  If you don't plan to open a social media hangout, how about opening a second Crazy Crabz location because those sandwiches tastes GOOD!
  4. Sometimes the ushers don't really care about people going to their seats while the ball is in play or the batter is in the box.  It annoys the crap out of me seeing people just walk up the stairs to their seats and blocking the view of the ball being pitched.
  5. I remember the when the arcade section had the flat penny machine and the penny you received said what game you attended.  It was the best souvenir for just 51 cents.  Can we get that back?
  6. Can you cook the garlic fries a little bit longer?  The Club level has a reputation for cooking good garlic fries, but the rest of the stands in the park could use a little more TLC.
  7. Bring back the souvenir pin giveaways.  It used to be a common occurrence back at Candlestick, including one pin I still have on my hat from nearly 20 years ago when the Rockies first played against the Giants at Candlestick.  I like the pins more than a box full of giveaway hats and oddball items like fingerless gloves.
  8. I find it ironic that soda cans are banned from bring brought into the park, but they sell beer in aluminum bottles.  Are aluminum beverage containers considered a weapon?
  9. Please kill-off the "Family Feud" from your gameshow inning promotion.  How the hell is Dirty Harry not a top eight choice for best San Francisco movie, but that Nicholas Cage film, The Rock is a top eight?
  10. Is it just me or is nearly impossible to find the designated driver program booth anymore?  Ever since they yanked-out the desk next to Guest Services, there's no way to tell if they even take sign-ups anymore for those free sodas.  They put a new location on the promenade level near the stairwell leading to the Lefty O'Doul gate, but it's manned only on a few days and you'd miss it if you weren't looking carefully.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Clipper Card Improvements to Caltrain and Installation on Marin Transit

It's that time of the month again when the defacto Clipper card board of directors spends money on things YOU want for your Clipper card.  The Operations Committee of the MTC meets on Friday, May 10th at 9:35AM (agenda here).

A lot of the material is all contract renewals, such as the operation of Clipper customer service offices/desks at Embarcadero station, but here's the two things you should know:

  1. $425,000 to help fund to have Clipper card equipment installed on Marin Transit buses.  Marin Transit will also help pay for the installation of the equipment on their vehicles.
  2. $150,000 will be spent on an adjustment to the Clipper card readers at all Caltrain stations.  The Clipper card readers emit the same tone when you tag-on and tag-off, but due to complaints of people being confused, including those with limited visibility, the modification will be a different sound tone being emitted when you tag-off.  For example, you'll hear "beep!" when tagging-on, and "boop!" when tagging-off.
In other meeting notes, the board will hear a presentation on customer service for Clipper.  They've already made some improvements, such as upgrading the website and making the automated phone system easier to use.  The goal for this summer is to have a mobile friendly website up and running.

Akit's Opinions
Not a bad set of goals.  The need to expand Clipper to the smaller agencies is still in the works, but it seems the progress is just slow.  When are they ever going to get Clipper ready for the Vallejo ferry, or how about the Tiburon service Blue & Gold provides?

I do feel the adjustment to the Caltrain readers is much needed, but I'm still hoping they will one day have all the ticketing machines be able to add Clipper value and finally end that stupid 8-ride for an across the board equivalent 20% discount on single ride fares.

Monday, May 6, 2013

500 Page SF Elections Paper Ballot Book - How to Get it E-Mailed & Get Spammed Too

Election Day comes back on November 5th to San Francisco, and while it usually means we vote for candidates and proposals for propositions, you'll be getting something huge in the mail: Your ballot book.

If you are familiar with ballot books, it's basically what every person registered to vote gets in the mail prior to every election.  The books contain the procedures and policies about voting, candidate statements, proposition statements, and plenty more.  In most cases, the booklets are no more than a quarter inch thick using very thin paper to cut down on weight and postage costs.

But for the November 5th elections, your booklet will be roughly 400-500 pages, with a huge chunk going towards a local proposition for a luxury condo property at 8 Washington.  By law, the city has to publish the text of the referendum and that contains hundreds of pages that likely a majority of citizens will simply throw into their recycling bin.

What does that mean to me?  If I receive that, I just look at the sample ballot and maybe the briefing of each ballot measure, than simply dump it in the recycling bin.

But... there is a choice for us voters, we can ask the city to skip on the paper ballot books and review it online.  When you opt-in for electronic ballot boks, you get an e-mail from the city that gives you the link to the ballot book online.

It's a great idea, help the city go green by cutting back on the paper printing, especially when your ballot book will be the size of a telephone book.

However, there's a dark side to giving the city your e-mail address:
"The email address provided on this form will be kept confidential pursuant to Section 6254.4 of the California Government Code and Section 2194 of the California Elections Code, and legally may be provided to a candidate for office, a ballot measure committee, or other person for election, scholarly, journalistic, political, or governmental purposes, as determined by the Secretary of State." (Source: SF Elections opt-out paper ballot book online sign-up)
What this basically tells me is that if I give the city government my e-mail address to cut down on paper waste, there is the possibility that political candidates and proposition pro/opponents will be harassing me via e-mail telling me to "vote for this" and "my opponent is a scumbag?"

Like I need more junk mail in my inbox.  I'm already sick of the phone calls at 8:45PM.  Thanks politicians for passing an elections law that allows you to spam the crap out of my e-mail box; you voted for it because you liked it so you can tell us who or what to vote for, but for us citizens, we hate it.

Here's an alternative the city could do, but it will cost some money: People can opt-out of a paper ballot, but they would instead get a post card telling citizens to visit the elections website to obtain the electronic ballot book; by doing it this way, we don't have to give out our e-mail address.