Thursday, November 20, 2008

McGoldrick defends peasants who ride Muni

As a regular Muni passenger, I've complained for years about the ads that cover the windows of Muni buses that prevent us transit peasants from having an unobstructed view of our beautiful city.

I now have an unexpected ally in Supervisor McGoldrick. Unexpected since McGoldrick reportedly drives to work because he doesn't have time to take the bus like the rest of us:

Muni ads nauseate: Two members of the Board of Supervisors were looking out for the claustrophobic and motion sick---along with the impatient---on Tuesday. Supervisor Jake McGoldrick introduced a resolution asking Muni to refrain from wrapping buses in advertising that covers windows. McGoldrick said the advertising gives the feeling to riders that they are completely boxed in. "People who suffer claustrophobia or nausea cannot see out the windows," McGoldrick said, adding that it blocked the view of people in general who like to enjoy the beauty of the city (City Insider, Wyatt Buchanan, Nov. 19, 2008).

This practice may be a medical issue for some, but it's always been a clear sign of City Hall's contempt for all the people who ride Muni. Extra income for Muni trumps the interests of its 700,000 daily passengers. 

My impression is that City Hall and the management of MTA are such elitists they had no idea that the practice annoys passengers. Now that McGoldrick, termed out at the end of the year, has informed them on the issue does anyone really think they will end the practice? None of the other so-called progressive supervisors has ever shown any interest in the issue, including that tribune of the People, Supervisor Mirkarimi.

My objections to the practice from days of yore.

Subject: Hate to Be a Pest...
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001
From: Rob Anderson
To: Matt Gonzalez


Here's a "small" issue I mentioned a few times during the campaign but I haven't heard about any action/discussion: the advertising on the sides of Muni buses. I'm sure Muni makes a lot of money on the ads, but they demonstrate management's contempt for Muni passengers. Sitting inside and looking through one of those signs, you see a beautiful city transformed into a grid, like one of those Chuck Close paintings. The moral of the story: schmucks who don't own SUVs and have to ride the bus aren't entitled to a clear view of what is supposedly their beautiful city, too. Is the amount of money Muni makes on these ads enough to justify obstructing passengers' view of their city? Is any amount of money enough to justify it?

Still Ads on the Windows (in SF Examiner, June 16, 2004)
From: Rob Anderson
Subject: Muni Advertising
Date: June 15, 2004
To: letters@sfexaminer


It’s good that the ads on Muni buses raise much-needed revenue for the city. On the other hand, once the Muni’s deficit problems are over, we should make sure they no longer take ads that cover the windows obstructing passengers’ view of our beautiful city. We Muni riders want to do our share in dealing with the system’s red ink, but, once the deficit is gone, we expect to enjoy an unobstructed view of our city from inside Muni buses.

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At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another issue I agree with Rob on.

-resident Bike Nut

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You always read this Muni statistic of "700,000 daily passengers" but never see the data (actually you often see it stated as "700,000 boardings daily"). Does anyone know where this number comes from? The number of paying passengers daily might be a more useful metric.

But these are customers and a business that has 700,000 custmers daily and loses as much money daily as Muni loses is so inefficient that it really shouldn't be allowed to continue operating. All the tax dollars that go to prop up MTA incompetence (most of it from the DPT) could be used for many other things.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, the official MTA number of "boardings" per day is 686,000, which you can find on MTA's "Transportation Fact Sheet," the latest version of which was just posted on their website last month. Since so many Muni passengers don't pay at all---many come through the back door and others come in the front door and breeze by drivers who don't care enough to even look up to check transfers and passes---700,000 boardings a day is probably as close a count as we're going to get. The "boardings" term of course tries to account for the fact that many of the passengers are the same people going to and fro various destinations, not discrete individuals.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon #2, the police and fire departments also don't bring in as much money as they cost the city. Should we remove them as well, or are there other considerations?

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, public transportation is a public service subsidized by taxpayers. Anon #2 has a point only if he's citing specific waste in MTA. I think it's hard to justify having 10 people working on the Bike Project in MTA. And then there's that pretentious special "culture bus" I see around town that never has any passengers. The culture bus is a good symbol of SF---an empty, costly gesture with self-congratulatory implications: Oh, we have so much "culture" that we have to have a special bus to make the connections for our visitors, none of whom ride it.


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