Help us Bust Through the Bars to a Better City

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The bars between BART and Muni. Another example of the way customers are mistreated by transit agencies. Photo:
The bars between BART and Muni. Another example of the way customers are mistreated by transit agencies. Photo:

Everyone who rides Muni or navigates the Bay Area’s dangerous streets knows we’ve got some serious problems. The mainstream media, in some form or another, will always be there reporting on the day-to-day goings on (we hope). But independent media is tasked with doing the analysis, digging deeper and finding out what’s going on behind the scenes so that advocates can get about their hard work of pushing for reform.

We think you know that. When we reached out to you with some bad news about our funding on April 2, the reader response was near-instantaneous. In one month, we were able to raise $11,700 from 121 different donations. To put it into perspective, that is a little higher than all three California-based Streetsblogs combined raised during our end-of-year fundraising drive. It’s been both humbling and validating to know that our readers care about what we do and want to support us.

But we’re still only halfway to our goal. If you haven’t donated yet but value our work, please donate now.

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We believe that having a journalist who is an expert on how transit systems work, or at least how they should work, leads to different and better coverage of both day-to-day and breaking news stories.

Take last month’s Muni subway meltdown. SFMTA and the mainstream media reported on what happened, but they didn’t report, at least in any detail, on what didn’t happen… that is, why would operators just shut down the system instead of trying to provide some limited service on the remaining track? Streetsblog reached out to SFMTA specifically about this, and we’re still waiting for an answer.

Cat Carter over at the San Francisco Transit Riders said the article got them thinking about that very question. It also touched off conversations about why SFMTA can’t develop the ability to run light rail vehicles on the surface of Market Street for replacement service, since they can carry way more people than buses.

That’s all a perfect example of how Streetsblog works with advocates, politicians, and others to get people thinking more deeply about things the mainstream press doesn’t get into.

Another example is the forever-delayed Upper Market Street protected bike lane. For years the fire department had tied up that project, claiming a protected bike lane would interfere with their rescue trucks if a building caught fire on Upper Market. Streetsblog, along with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and former Streetsblog editor Bryan Goebel, helped us figure out there was a hidden agenda and what to do about it. We finally found firefighter Micheal Crehan, who drives rescue trucks for a living, and did a long Q&A with him; he thoroughly debunked the idea that protected bike lanes interfere with fire rescueA few months later, San Francisco got its bike lanes on Upper Market.

Streetsblog is here to serve the readers. We’ll continue to hammer the city and regional planners for talking about transit improvements while they fail to fix galactically stupid obstructions to riders such as the bars between the BART and Muni stations, as seen in the lead image.

God knows how many trains have been missed because of this.

And that’s why we’ll continue our work to cut through the bars holding back the Bay Area’s transit, safety, and sustainability. But we need your help.


Again, now’s a great time to a) spread the word via social media or email b) share a great idea or contact that can help us get forward (contact Damien Newton, c) make a donation if you haven’t yet. Donate now and you’ll be entered into a raffle to win Oakland A’s tickets, Streetsblog hoodies and t-shirts, and more!


Roger and Damien

PS: Here’s another picture of Roger’s cat and bicycles… just because readers seem to like them. 🙂

Cats, the Internet, bikes--it's all good.
Cats, the Internet, bikes–it’s all good.
  • Kieran

    As far as why no LRVs operate on the surface of Market st, I do believe it’s because their pantograph wouldn’t be able to work since it’s only supposed to draw power from one overhead wire only, while the dual trolleybus wires overhead would possibly damage it. From what I gather, the only way to operate LRVs on Market st is to equip them with trolley poles. Look at the pic below from the 80s when a couple LRVs would run in various Trolley Festivals back then.

    Now to your point of breaking down the bars at Civic Center, I completely agree and think it should’ve been designed like that originally. Hopefully this happens sooner than later but obviously that’s wishful thinking.

  • Roger R.

    Cool picture. Yes, that’s correct about the pantograph’s shorting out the trolley bus wire. The answer is to go back to three wires next time they replace the wires.

  • LazyReader

    San Francisco’s ill’s are simply the cultivation of being the liberal petri dish. The sidewalks littered by staggering amounts of trash, needles and human feces. San Fran’s public policies have turned it into a slum. One day in San Francisco you’ll witness more open air drug use than your whole life anywhere else. The problem isn’t just the Left; the problem’s the people who put the leftists in power. The people get the government they deserve. And San Francisco is the living embodiment of the government they elected. When government who runs your city, have a political motivation to pander to people who’re dysfunctional, poorly behaved, engage in lewd or self destructive acts, their policies do nothing but foster more dysfunctionality, poor behavior and lewd acts and disavowing self respect and personal dignity. Once you destroy self respect and personal dignity you can often never rehabilitate adults who’ve been retaught to ignore their own well being. Then your cities problems of the consequences of people who have zero dignity and self respect…only continue to get worse; Bike lanes and cleaner BART stations cant fix that…….. Even Worse when you indoctrinate the entitlement mentality on those dysfunctional people you embolden them to be angry or violent when they don’t get their way…where does that behavior sound familiar? AMONG CHILDREN. If you subsidize a culture of degeneracy and debasement, you make it attractive for more people. If you turn a blind eye to masturbating on a train, pooping on the sidewalk or shooting heroin in broad daylight, don’t be surprised if you see it more frequently. YOU’RE GOING TO GET MORE OF IT. Combine with it an entertainment and urban culture that glorifies drug abuse, illicit activities, gun violence, criminality and abuse against woman and distrust and enmity against law enforcement, DON’T BE SURPRISED when EXACTLY THAT kind of behavior proliferates in your neighborhood when you encourage People to Enjoy it. Politically it’s always a strategy to blame various problems on their political opponent ; i.e. Republicans, However since Republicans is predominantly absent from major cities such as SF they cant blame any of their problems on the GOP. Every urban dump in America has the same factors in common…with the slave plantations of the US South.

    – Dilapidated infrastructure and housing, since these properties aren’t owned by it’s occupant little concern is placed on upkeep.

    – the family structure is all but broken down, where children are held to no regard or importance.

    – Huge population of generational welfare dependents; a lot of minimal provision, but few ever really advances.

    – Failed to no education

    – violence to maintain order

    And they’re all run by democrats for historically long periods of time.

  • Kieran

    3 wires? Good luck getting Muni to do that..Hell, they might improve the future batches of Siemens LRVs before putting 3 wires on Market st so LRVs can operate on the surface stretch of it..

    Yea, there’s a few pics of LRVs(namely 1213 and 1255) operating on Market st in the 80s…I like these pics and it would’ve been pretty surreal to have ridden one of the Boeing LRVs on the surface of Market st during the 80s.

  • keenplanner

    Tearing out the bars would mean that SFMTA and BART would have build a system that actually best serves transit riders! In the Bay Area, preserving transit fiefdoms come first, moving riders comes second, or third, after staff ineptness.

  • crazyvag

    Well, they could run additional capacity to Fisherman’s wharf, since all along Embarcadero, it’s a single wire that’s pantograph friendly.

    I’d imagine that they they keep 4 trolley pole lanes on Market given the high volume of buses there.

  • Kieran

    Yea they could run on the wharves in theory but last I checked, Market Street Railway said that there’s not enough power available in the overhead wires along the E/F lines to also power plenty of LRVs alongside the historic trolleys.

    Muni will definitely keep all 4 sets of trolleybus wire along Market st. That’ll never go away.

  • Kieran

    Yup..I’d be surprised if this happened before the 22nd century comes around. It’s a great idea that’d easily help out, especially during rush hour. I’m really surprised that all 4 shared Muni/BART stations don’t have that same type of Civic Center stairs set up(minus the bars of course) to begin with.

    Imagine if Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and the Embarcadero stations all had those stairs set ups allowing seamless transfers between the 2 subways…

  • If I recall the history correctly, the upper level of the subway was originally intended for BART too but then plans changed and Muni Metro was created instead. Perhaps that is why Civic Center station is built the way it is. We’re the other stations constructed later when the decision was already made and so they knew the inter-platform transfers wouldn’t be supported anyway?

  • Kieran

    Ya know, I’ve heard that BART was supposed to have the upper level of the subway as well but I dunno for certain..I’mma ask around and see what info I can find in that regard, though. In the meantime until I can get some real answers in person. Check out that wiki link below. It alludes to the stairs, saying that additional faregates were proposed as a transfer point without having to walk up to the mezzanine level.

  • The historic streetcars and LRVs share wires on the Embarcadero between Folsom and 4th/King.

  • Fiefdoms is just a part of it. The other annoying part (especially for riders) is lack of seamless connections between systems.

    From what I’ve read, Civic Center was supposed to be the official transfer point between Muni and BART. Get off one, hop on the other without having to go through additional fare gates, but the fare collection system changed all that.

    Removing the barricades also opens up a greater security issue since most of the Muni rail service is accessible at street level which means anyone can get on and not pay. Unfortunately, our society is what it is so removing the barriers will just encourage more fare evasion.

  • Yes, BART was supposed to run from Montgomery (there was no Embarcadero station in the original plan) to a station at St. Francis Circle on the upper level. Don’t know how they planned to move trains between levels for storage/maintenance unless the tube was going to split before it entered SF with two levels.

  • pedestrianist

    Streetsblog, I love you, and I want to support your fundraiser, but I’m appalled that you haven’t written a single story about any of the pedestrians killed in SF this year. With deaths on our streets spiking, why the silence?

  • Kieran

    True. Though, they both share wires because it’s just a single overhead wire.

  • Roger R.

    That’s not accurate:
    I haven’t done more because we cover such a wide range of topics and a big region, and it seems as if the mainstream press has been doing its job in covering the day-to-day carnage. That said, it’s hard to know the right balance between covering the overarching policies that leads to deaths, and covering the details of specific crashes. But yes, I probably could have said something about the woman who died on Divis and the little girl who was killed crossing at Lake Merced, for example. The Lake Merced death I’ve been following closely, but haven’t figured out what to say that hasn’t already been said by other publications. I may also be a bit shell shocked. There’s been so much death and horror it’s hard to keep up. 🙁

  • pedestrianist

    Thanks for the reply. I know you’re not ignoring the issue, and I hear you that it’s tough to find the right balance. My feedback: 9 pedestrians dying with no direct response article is not the right balance. After all, Tess Rothstein’s death did (rightly) get it’s own article.

  • Live Oak

    A double decker at least at Montgomery was always planned because BART was supposed to go to Marin on the upper level, and then Geary.

    But that was canceled and swapped to put Muni underground via Twin Peaks. BART didn’t know what Muni Metro would look like prior to 1972, and built platforms large enough for trains of the same size.

  • Live Oak

    No LRVs operate on the surface because their weight is too heavy for Breda and likely Siemens.

    Boeing’s never operated on market street except for once instance, and then only one boeing (car 1213) did occasionally during festivals.

  • Kieran

    One of the main reasons LRVs aren’t on the surface is because the pantographs can’t function underneath double trolleybus wires. Though, I do agree that the Bredas would be way too heavy for Market st. Hypothetically, the Siemens might not, being that they’re considerably lighter than the Bredas. Actually, 2 Boeings operated as a 2 car train down Market Street once. This photo was taken in 1985. Here’s the link-


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