Friday, October 31, 2008

My Year of Commuting

I've been photographing my commute on Muni, Caltrain, and BART almost all of 2008. Hopefully my project will be a Blurb book by the end of the year. In the meanwhile I've posted some of the photos on Flickr.

no. 0410

no. 2769

no. 1222

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interlock, Schminterlock

Alarmingly, around one half of the N Judahs I've taken eastbound from the Outer Sunset these past two weeks have had non working interlocks, or have had them disengaged. When I say this I mean that I've seen the trains move with doors open and/or see the doors open automatically while the train is moving. This used to be a rarity and now it seems to be de rigeur. Today the right rear door of the car I was riding in closed after the train started moving, the obstruction beep sounded, and the door reopened ... train kept on moving. What's the deal with this? Even scarier was when I used that door to exit and the operator shut it on me before the alighting passengers had even gotten in. Fortunately I didn't wind up riding down Judah half in, half out of the train.

I'll write Ken MacDonald and see what happens.

Photography is Allowed

While I was doing my usual thing of moderately discreetly taking photographs a little earlier today (this time at Montgomery station), I passed another photographer, this one a woman who was carrying a more conspicuous camera and a small metal folding ladder. (!) She was taking photos of handrails or something like that, from outside the paid area, in the corridor away from almost all foot traffic. But after a while, someone in the BART booth announced on the PA that "Photography is not allowed on BART property without permission."

Well, that would be wrong for any number of reasons, the most obvious of which is the actual BART policy:


BART is a Bay Area icon. As such, it attracts more than a few amateur photographers. If you are a paying passenger making your way from point A to point B, then there is no specific prohibition to taking photographs in areas that are accessible to the public provided you do not appear to be a security threat, involved in a commercial activity or harassing other riders. If, however, you appear to be taking photographs of potentially sensitive areas or is obviously involved in some commercial enterprise like an advertising agency, BART employees, especially BART Police Officers, may approach you and ask you to identify yourself and possibly take further action against you.
Permission, which required, involves a time-consuming and relatively expensive ($250) permit process, but a woman taking photographs of nothing in particular is not a security threat, not harassing riders, and not doing anything commercial (if she was taking salable photographs, I'd like to know what kind of nut is buying them).

I use less conspicuous gear (I never use a camera on a neck strap, and don't shoot with a huge pro body) and keep my camera out of sight when I'm not using it. But her mistake was carrying the damn ladder (one of those white kitchen type step things about four feet high) around with her.

Maybe you guys in the booths could just chill out a little. Anyway, I've shot around 1500 photographs on Muni and BART this year, for a Blurb book project and possibly an exhibit, and no one bugs me about it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Wide Stance

As a friend of mine has observed, a few people like to sit on the bus or train with their knees two feet apart. Normally these are guys. Maybe they think their units need extra room.

This is fine by me as long as you aren't sitting next to me getting into my personal space. I can do without feeling your warm thigh pressed up against mine, you know?

Anyway, this morning, I had a wide stancer to my left, and the corresponding unwelcome warm thigh. (This person turned out to be a she, but this wasn't apparent until she got up and, um, walked away from me.) Then my left side was rejoined by another wide stancer, this one a hippie, and definitely a guy. I rode another 15 minutes with a warm hippie pressing against me.

Can I just say, ick?

Also: If you need a belt, and have a large, hairy, pasty white, extremely unpresentable man ass, please don't get up out of the seat next to me and stick nine inches of your immense nasty cheek cleft in my face. I may just bitch slap your lobe. (Then cut off my hand.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Here We Go Down the Street with the Doors Open

Today's ride on the N westbound from the beach featured (multiple) doors that were open while the train was moving. This was actually a new thing for me!

Dear Operator: Can you please make sure your interlock is enabled, and whether it is or not, before you move the train, please look to see if the doors are actually closed. The moms whose kids don't fall out into traffic will appreciate it.

I was horrified a couple of weeks ago when this happened on the 4th and King platform. This time I guess I'm dulled. On the other hand, this time no one was stuck in the door as the train started moving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You Ruined My Picture, Holmes

To Smoove B who stopped and turned around to flirt with the sly-looking girl eating a banana, before I could snap her photo, I hate you. All I needed was another couple tenths of a second.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fallimente! Insuccesso!

Apparently Fleet Week came as a big surprise to Muni this weekend. That's the only ready explanation I have for my experiences Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday: I was headed downtown (not to North Beach); I started waiting for an N at 43rd & Judah at around 1:45. There was no N in sight, however - none at the turnaround and none on the tracks to the east. NextMuni said "29 minutes." Um, seriously, folks. When the train did arrive (about 29 minutes later), it had a broken door. After a while the operator put the door out of service, but it took at least 20 minutes spread out over several stops to get things "working." Unfortunately the door wasn't in shape to enter the Market St. Subway anyway, so when we finally got there, I got off at Church and walked down to Church station. Elapsed time to get downtown: 1:15. There were a bunch of people on the train who apparently thought they would get to see the Blue Angels from the beach. Um, on a normal transit system, maybe you could go 7 miles in 1-1/4 hours, but on Muni, think again.

Sunday: This time I really did want to get to the beach for the Blue Angels. So I got to the 43 & Judah stop at a little after 1:00. Again, no N in sight. (Why would anyone from the Sunset want to get into town for Fleet Week anyway?) So I walked down to Trouble Coffee for a mocha. An N did show up and it worked out; I got onto the N with a fresh mocha. (Haven't spilled food or drink on Muni yet, don't worry.) This time the trip downtown to Van Ness was relatively uneventful although the train (late) was packed by the time we got to the subway.

So I got off at Van Ness and started waiting for a 49/47. Oooeee, a 49 showed up after about 10 minutes, totally packed, and began the crawl north toward the Maritime Museum. Traffic was, of course, nightmarish (wouldn't want cops helping keep parking trollers away or keeping a lane clear for buses, or anything like that). So with Muni fully "functional" it still took me over 1-1/2 hours to find a decent viewing spot. That's less than 5 mph, by the way. (It really is less than 7.5 miles.)

Is there even a point in talking about the 30 Stockton back at 7PM?

It's not as if it should come as a surprise to Muni that when the Blue Angels are flying in an area of the city that is difficult to access and basically has no parking (except for garages charging a $40 "event" rate), people will be trying to ride mass transit in. So, maybe we could make that mass transit work?

I'm obliged to mention: If San Francisco city is allowed to take over the electric utility infrastructure in SF under the aegis of "green public power," how do you think SF Power will react to "this weekend is predicted to be hot"? By browning out every A/C in the city, of course.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The 29 Got Lost, but I Thought the N Couldn't

Words are superfluous.