Thursday, December 13, 2007

Take Advantage of Some FREE Bus Rides

The San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper reported today that San Francisco's Municipal Railway (MUNI) will be testing some double decker buses to see if they want to add them to their bus fleet. The best part of the story is that rides on the buses will be FREE! The bus routes are listed at the end of the story.

The article said "Muni will be running the double-decker bus, on loan to the city by a British company, on various routes through Jan. 8 to test public reaction, which will help agency officials decide whether to put the buses on their wish list for future purchase. If the first day of the pilot project was any indication, Muni will be adding double-deckers to its fleet, and the fact that rides on the 83-seat bus are free during the test phase isn't hurting.
"This is like an early Christmas present," said Roberto Martinez, who settled in on the top deck next to his girlfriend for a ride down Mission Street. From the view to the cloth seats, the 34-year-old waiter declared, "I like everything about it."
The approaching bus seemed to take most people by surprise as they waited for the 49-Van Ness/Mission. But they got on - some eagerly, some reluctantly - when it stopped to pick them up and they saw the Muni logo on the side.
"I thought it was a tour bus at first," said Edith Lam, a 23-year-old home-care aide who boarded near City College and quickly climbed the stairs for a seat with a view. "What a great idea. I love it."
If nothing else, the test run looks like it will give Muni - oft the subject of grumbling because of its problems with reliability and overcrowding - a public relations bump. But city transit officials are looking beyond that.
Double-decker buses, which are part of the public transit systems in London, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Washington state's Snohomish County and closer to home in Davis, have several benefits.
They can transport a lot of people without taking up too much space on some of San Francisco's notoriously congested streets, and they're easier to maneuver than the double-jointed articulated buses used on the busiest corridors. They also will take up less floor space in the maintenance yards, which already are jam packed.
On the downside, they have a reputation of taking longer for passengers to get on and off. And that's not good news, considering that Muni buses travel at an average speed of 8 mph, already making it one of the slowest transit systems in the nation.
As for how it handles, veteran Muni driver Donald Jordan, who took the wheel of the bus Wednesday, said he didn't see much difference.
"A coach is a coach," he declared. "It's just taller." It reaches 14 feet.
He did, however, pay extra attention to avoiding overhanging tree limbs. "I don't want to tear a hole in (the bus) or break a window."
Probably a good idea, considering the $800,000 bus is on loan from the British manufacturer, Alexander Dennis Ltd. The company's goodwill gesture in San Francisco may translate into a lucrative business deal.
Hilda Dompe, 65, a visitor from Nicaragua who was in San Francisco to visit her sister, clapped in joy as she sat in the coveted front seat on the top deck and said she hopes the city buys more double-deckers. "San Francisco is so beautiful. What a great way to see the city."

Where to find the double-decker
-- Dec. 13-15 and 17 on the 49-Van Ness/Mission line, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
-- Dec. 18-22 on the 38-L Geary line, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
-- Dec. 24, 26-28 on the 1BX-California line, 6:49 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
-- Dec. 24, 26-28 on the 14-L Mission line, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-- Dec. 24, 26-28 on the IBX-California, 4:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
-- Dec. 29 on the 14L-Mission, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
-- Dec. 31 and Jan. 2-5 on the 38-Geary, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
-- Jan 7 and 8, lines to be determined.

If you're visiting and want to ride the bus:
The 38L is a nice ride out to the Cliff House/Ocean Beach
The 1BX California would be a fun ride as well
The 14L will take you out to the Mission District

For more information and to check for schedule changes go to http://www.sfmta.com/.

1 comment:

min said...

this is inresting post.
I wish i were in SF this time of year becasue i ride muni while my stay in SF becasue i do not drive a car. I am sure people in Sf enjoy free rides during holiday season!!!
Have a good holiday season!!