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Posts from the "Muni Rider Profiles" Category

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Muni Rider Profile: Pamela Moye Revisits the 28-19th Avenue

IMG_1182.jpgPamela Moye rides the 28-19th Avenue. Photo: Michael Rhodes

Riding the 28-19th Avenue northbound towards the Richmond on a recent weekday afternoon, Pamela Moye has almost nothing but good things to say about Muni.

Aside from the occasional long wait for an M-Ocean View train, Moye, a schoolteacher, said her experience with Muni has been overwhelmingly positive.

"I love public transportation in San Francisco," said Moye. "It's super easy."

What accounts for Moye's sunny appraisal of Muni, a system that's subject to near-universal griping among San Franciscans? Moye, it turns out, benefits from the perspective of being a former San Francisco resident who now lives in Los Angeles, car-free.

"People think I'm crazy for riding the bus in LA," she said. Though she doesn't agree with that assessment, Moye said she knows far fewer people who ride transit in her new home than in San Francisco.

Moye left San Francisco in 2002 to pursue a teaching job after attending San Francisco State. She was back in town on the day we spoke to complete work on her degree seven years later, and was happy to reminisce about her days living on 5th Avenue and Geary.

"Living in San Francisco turned me into a non-car owner," she said. The cost and hassle of parking, insurance, and gas pushed her towards giving up her vehicle, and she hasn't looked back.

After growing up in Idaho, she found the bus her key to exploring San Francisco. "Riding the bus is a great way to learn a city," said Moye. When she arrived here, she said, if she had a free afternoon, "I would just get on a bus and ride."

Now, when friends and family ask for suggestions on what to do during visits to San Francisco, Moye tells them to take the 38-Geary from one end of the line to the other, from ocean to bay, one of the best ways to see a broad cross-section of the city. (Jane Jacobs wrote about taking a similar approach to learning New York City when she first arrived, randomly choosing subway lines to ride to new neighborhoods every week.)

Moye has continued this practice in Los Angeles, a city (and region) famed for its dependence on the automobile, though it has increasingly focused on expanding transit service.

Moye said she always felt secure riding buses here. "I never saw anything, I always felt completely safe," she said, noting that she often rode the bus late at night.

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Muni Rider Profile: Hoi Chong Wong on the T-Third and Stockton Buses

IMG_1407.jpgPhoto: Michael Rhodes
Hoi Chong Wong can tell you about the commute from 3rd Street in the Bayview to Chinatown or the commute in Guangzhou, China. Though retired now, he's been making the trip to Chinatown on Muni almost daily since he immigrated to San Francisco in 1997, first on the defunct 15-Third bus line, and now on the T-Third Street light rail line, with a transfer to the 30-Stockton or 45-Union-Stockton bus line near 4th and King. In Guangzhou, he also traveled mostly by bus, plus the occasional bicycle ride.

When he went back to visit Guangzhou recently, Wong, 71, said, he was inspired by improvements that have been made on the bus system since he left 12 years ago.

"There is a huge difference in terms of the bus line services for Guangzhou and here," explained Wong, speaking through a translator since he's a monolingual Cantonese speaker. Boarding is much more orderly than it is on the 30 and 45, and "instructions on the buses are very clear," said Wong. "They have an automated system where it's very clear in terms of which station is next. They have a map, and the next stop has a blinking light."

Wong said Guangzhou's buses announce stops in three languages: English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Most announcements on Muni are made only in English, so navigating the system when he first arrived 12 years ago was a challenge. "It was very difficult and confusing for him because he felt like all the instructions and all the maps are not clear as to where he should take the buses, and which of the lines goes to which neighborhoods," said Tammy Hung, translating for Wong. "So it took him quite a long time to navigate his way throughout the city."

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Muni Rider Profile: Keith Montanez on the 28-19th Avenue

IMG_1172.jpgPhoto: Michael Rhodes

Editor's note: Today, we introduce the first installment in an occasional series of profiles of Muni riders and the lines they ride.

The 28-19th Avenue passes through two cities, a national park, Golden Gate Park, and the city's second largest undergraduate institution, touching both the southern and northern border of San Francisco as it travels over city streets and two highways, with dramatic views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge along the way. It's a key route for San Francisco State University students, as well as teenagers who live and go to school in the Richmond and Sunset districts, which seem to be the largest groups that identify it as "their" route.

Keith Montanez is one of those students, a gregarious audio production major at SF State whose personality pops out despite the dreary grayness on 19th Avenue on a Wednesday afternoon. He's easy to talk to and instantly engaging, and probably shares many of the same frustrations with his fellow Muni riders, but apart from trips with his friends, talking to a random fellow rider seems to be an unusual event.

Even before we begin talking, it's clear he's serious about music. Waiting at the bus shelter, he's sporting stylish Skullcandy headphones, not the ubiquitous iPod earbuds that are standard-issue around the city. When he amicably removes them, he reveals that he's on his way to host a weekly radio show ("The Mighty Tree") on KSFS. When asked whom he looks up to as musicians, Montanez gives a long pause, contemplating the question deeply before answering, treating it as a matter of great importance (he starts with the poet and rapper Saul Williams.)

When I first encounter him, Montanez is waiting for the 28-19th Avenue, his connection to school, his apartment near Stern Grove in the southern reaches of the Sunset, and his job south of the city. Moving to San Francisco from Southern California for college has been a chance to shed his vehicle - which stays at his family's home in SoCal - and live a lifestyle centered on walking and transit. He's in his last year at SF State, and has been a 28 rider since moving earlier in college to the Sunset from the Excelsior, where he relied on the 29-Sunset.

In fact, Montanez prefers walking, but the 28 is his line when that's not an option.

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