Muni Yard




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.)

Man with Box


Going up 19th Avenue on the 28 Muni bus yesterday, a man got on carrying a long, haphazardly folded cardboard box. My guess is that it was his bed for the night. Without comment from the driver, he took a seat at the front of the bus, placing his box in the center aisle. The box extended across the feet or shins of several other riders; when those riders got off, the box blocked other people from taking their seats. When new passengers got on the bus, they had to gingerly make their way past the box; that proved to be a challenge for a couple of senior passengers who got on with walkers.

Still, the driver said nothing, and neither did any of the other passengers. The man, wearing a hooded UCLA sweatshirt, got off when we neared Golden Gate Park. My brother John, the New Yorker, took a look up and down the bus, and said, “What a tolerant bunch of people.” Heoffered the opinion that on buses or subways back home, the box would have prompted at least one “What the hell is this?” I can’t account for the scene on the San Francisco bus except to think people who ride Muni have probably seen it all and are past complaining or commenting.

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