10 September 2015

MUNI sucks - and you're making it worse

With an estimated 40,000 new residents since 2010, life in SF is getting more challenging. This is showing in our infrastructure issues and in particular with MUNI.

MUNI was never a well-run or well-funded system, nor was it a complete one. But now MUNI is breaking under the strain.

And you all are not helping.

Let's be honest... MUNI sucks. We all know it.  We all say it, we all live it. But we can make it better. We can make the entire experience better for everyone who rides MUNI light rail, and it's not even difficult or any real sacrifice.

So here, from a 20+ year MUNI light rail rider, are the ways to make MUNI light rail better (for all of us) by simply behaving a little better.

  1. Lines. We're not like the English. We kind of suck at lines. That does not, however, mean that it's a fucking free for all out there. We all know the proper order based on who arrived when. There is a virtual line as a result. When you get all clever and slip around the outside and dart in ahead of everyone else you're not being smarter than the rest of us, nor are the rest of us being chumps. You're being an asshole. Wait your turn, behave like a decent human, and we'll all get on the train and get home and we'll do so without the current level of hatred and simmering conflict.
  2. Boarding. When the train arrives, wait. Let everyone get off before you get on. This is the simplest of rules and the simplest of fixes. This will increase the efficiency of unloading and unloading and will result in MUNI running better throughout the entire system. Once everyone has debarked, you need to go as far into the train as you can. Stopping as soon as you board and grabbing an upright like you're about to drown creates a bottleneck which results in boarding slowing dramatically. If you simply go to the center of the train quickly, everyone will get to board, the train will load more quickly (and thus MUNI will run more quickly overall) and the train will hold more passengers (also resulting in quicker and better operation of the system). 
  3. Seats. If you sit in the outside seat when the inside seat is empty, there is a decent chance no-one will ask to take the inside seat. It's a politeness thing. But, again, doing this is not an indication that you're smarter than everyone else. Not doing it doesn't make you a chump. No... doing this makes you a fucking asshole. If 4 people do this per car, you're talking 16 fewer passengers per double train. During rush hour, this works out to around 320 fewer passengers per hour. So yeah... move to the inside seat.
  4. Backpacks. This one I do not understand at all.  It's fucking obvious. First of all, MUNI at rush hour is like Tetris and if you leave your backpack on, fewer passengers can fit on a train. Secondly, every time you move around in a packed train with your backpack on you're assaulting everyone behind you. I've had coffee spilled on me this way, I've been knocked to the ground this way. Third, when you try to board or exit the train, you're a massive unwieldy object in motion through the crowd. Disasters are predictable. So... a simple and binary rule... Before you get on the train, take off your backpack. You can hold it in your hand between your legs, you can rest it on your feet - but just take it off your fucking back. Mkay?
  5. Arriving. First and foremost... if the train is packed and you're by the doors, and the train stops somewhere that isn't your destination - step off the train so people can get off. If it's super packed and you're a few people in from the door, you too might have to step off the train. Once off the train, wait until everyone gets off, and then re-board (in the reverse order of you you left). If you're on the platform waiting - let the kind people who got off the train board before you get on. Not doing so makes you on par with elevator farters and with luck you will spend hell in an elevator filled with farts. Now... if this is your stop, don't freak out. Calmly work your way towards the door. If there are people blocking your path, politely say "excuse me." And if someone says, "excuse me" because you're blocking their way off the train - get the fuck out the way. 
There we go.
Five simple steps, a handful of simple rules.
If we all start doing this - MUNI will suck demonstrably less. For all of us.

So why the hell would you NOT do this?

04 September 2015

The Worst People (San Francisco, Sept 2015)

10. Sepp Blatter
 9. Trust-fund Wantrepreneurs
 8. Everyone who wears a fucking backpack on MUNI during rush hour
 7. Fake "Seed Investors"
 6. Enterprise Sales People
 5. Fans of Ayn Rand
 4. Code Artists
 3. That guy who keeps tweeting about #gamergate
 2. People who fart in the elevator
 1. Technolibertarians

01 September 2015

A Realization - About SF, Portland and opportunity

Current San Francisco dogma says that there is nowhere in the world that presents more opportunity. This is why everyone wants to move here. This is why you can't find parking, why toast costs $4 and why your rent is going to be more than $4k a month here. Right? Kind of hard to argue against this, yeah?

I just returned from a visit to my old stomping grounds (Portland OR) and I have some new perspective on this topic.

Honestly, I kind of thought I'd be writing about how Bay Area tech is a virus that is destroying its hosts (as illustrated by PDX). And while it was sad and a little disgusting to see that the brogrammer culture has gestated in Portland as well - this isn't what is sticking with me from this trip after all.

While in Portland I realized something important - or at least important to me - about opportunity and definitions.

Portland is incredibly ripe with opportunity and potential. It's all around you and it's inspiring.
There is, however, a huge difference between the opportunity and potential available to you in Portland and in the Bay Area.

In Portland, you have the opportunity to do what you want to do and to be who you want to be.
In the Bay Area, on the other hand, you have the opportunity to become a highly valuable asset and resource.

I'm not saying one is universally better than the other - but rather that you should know this and own your choices.

But frankly it's hard to not be reminded of what SF was like back in the early 90s - when it too was rich with opportunity for self-creation, self-identification and the pursuit of crazy dreams. And it's hard to not worry that the dream of PDX will follow the same path and the destruction of that dream will be yet another loss that Bay Area tech will have to answer for.