Muni Yard

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KQED is at Folsom Bryant and Mariposa, which is in what I describe as a seam between the Potrero Hill neighborhood to the east and the Mission to the west and south. One of the neighborhood landmarks is the big Muni bus yard, which has its entrance at York and Mariposa. Muni is both a source of pride to locals and a wilted flower. The system covers the city very well, but it has long struggled to provide reliable, on-time commute-hour service along the busiest corridors. One of the Muni’s undisputed gems, though, is its network of electrified trolley buses. They’re clean and quiet and run mostly on hydroelectric power supplied by one of San Francisco’s biggest environmental crimes, the O’Shaughnessy Dam that impounds the Tuolumne River and floods the Hetch Hetchy Valley in the Sierra Nevada (no less a nature guy than John Muir proclaimed Hetch Hetchy the fair sister to Yosemite).

Since a lot of Muni’s electric buses are garaged at the Mariposa yard, the entire neighborhood is strung with overhead wires. If you happen across vintage pictures of American cities circa 1900 or so, the streets appear forested with poles supporting improbable masses of wires. Most of those are gone are underground now, so the Muni’s wires are more of a city signature against the sky, graceful and geometrically refined. You could lose a day, maybe days, following them with a camera. I made do with a few minutes on the perimeter of the yard after I left work this evening.

(Pictures from top: Bus exit at Mariposa and Bryant; a trolley wire stanchion (or whatever it’s called), which is also visible on the left of the first picture; looking southwest across the yard from 17th Street (KQED is the light colored building in the left-center background.)

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