Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bus Report #884

Tonight on the 19 Polk:

NextBus was down and I couldn’t get updated schedule info for the bus, so I walked out to the stop a few minutes earlier than usual just in case.
The 4:47 PM bus never showed up and the 5:02 PM showed up at 5:10.
It was crowded so I sat beside a girl who took up too much space in the seat. I tried to slide further into the seat but she refused to budge.
We slowly, slowly made our way through the roundabout and down 7th Street. Behind me, a man yelled in to his cell phone. “Wait outside. Just wait there. Someone will be along soon and then you can go in and sit on the steps.”

At Civic Center, a tourist couple got on with their suitcases. The woman sat down but her husband stood in the aisle beside the suitcases. They almost blocked the door but not quite.
At the very next stop, two homeless men got on with their even larger suitcases, bulging backpacks, a foam bedroll, a garment bag and a duffel bag. This maneuver took the span of three light cycles and when they were finally on the bus they were completely blocking the stairwell and one of the men’s backpacks knocked a seated woman on the head and then rested on her shoulder for the duration.
The girl with the backpack on her shoulder did nothing. Just sat there and put up with it.

The man held the bedroll above his head, pressed up against the ceiling.
Ridiculous, honestly.
The driver didn’t say anything. Instead, he warned a man in the front of the bus to stop swearing. “There are kids on this bus,” The driver said. There were no kids on our bus.

The tourist couple laughed and laughed and the wife took a few pictures of the craziness with her phone.

We turned on to Geary and that was when all hell broke loose.
The driver shouted for the swearing man to get off the bus, which triggered a fit of swearing and fighting. Nothing really printable here. It sounded like there was a scuffle going on in the front of the bus but I couldn’t see anything.
The suitcase guys wrestled all of their luggage onto the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, a bicyclist rode up to the driver’s window and said something to him, then thumped the side of the bus a few times, hard.
The swearing man, now standing on the sidewalk freaking out, slammed his hand against the door several times.
“Why isn’t our driver just leaving?” I grumbled to my seatmate, a 27-year old woman who’d recently had a birthday, according to the info she’d just given to her credit card company over her cell phone.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I take this bus every night and it is never this bad.”
The woman in front of us, the one the man’s backpack had been resting on, turned around. “This is seriously bad,” she said.

The bus shot out of the bus stop, the driver trying (I assume) to shake the swearing man and the bicyclist.
We went maybe a block when the bicyclist was back, riding alongside us while cursing out the driver and hitting the side of the bus again.
The driver got on his phone. “Tell the SFPD to get here right now to arrest this bike rider. Right now. They gotta get here and arrest him. He’s messing with the bus. He’s damaging the bus.”
Everyone squinted and leaned forward to get a good look.
“It’s that guy in the sports coat,” I told my seatmate and the woman in front of us. A gangly guy on a bike, wearing a dark blue sports coat yelled something else to the driver and then rode off. The driver kept calling for the police as the bicyclist disappeared down Polk Street.
We drove past a sign advertising pedicures and spa treatment. I thought we should all pitch in and get a gift certificate for our driver or something. If anyone (else besides me) needed a spa treatment, it was him.

I hurried off of the bus a few blocks later.


Blogger John Marcher said...

Hi Rachel,

This ride sounds horrible. I'm glad nothing really awful happened, but geez...

I always appreciate the vividness of your writing, even when the people are crazier than usual. Maybe especially when the people are crazier than usual.


12:36 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks, John!
It was quite an unbelievable night.
Hope you're having a great summer.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, sounds like par for the course for the 19 to me...

10:18 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Anon - Yeaaaah but I've never had the double whammy of irate bicyclist AND disruptive fight-y passenger. Maybe 1 person with too much luggage, but rarely 3.
It was a ride on steroids!
Thanks for reading/commenting!

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Tim Bracken said...

When I read accounts like this, I'm reminded of our "Transit First" policy, which is supposedly so dear to the City that it's enshrined in our Charter. Here's one of the saddest/funniest bits given the reality of Muni:

"To ensure quality of life and economic health in San Francisco, the primary objective of the transportation system must be the safe and efficient movement of people and goods."

You can read the whole thing here if you're interested: http://charter.sanfranciscocode.org/downloads/code-text/VIIIA_8A.115.txt

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your 19 story. I got a new job and sadly, the 19 is my primary commute bus now. Oh, how I miss the reliable, frequent 1 California - I took thee for granted. I am a liberal NorCal-ian, but riding the 19 has embittered me. On top of the 19 being dependably unreliable, it can be filled with, how do I say this? Dregs - foul-smelling homeless zombies and loud ghetto folk (music playing for all to hear, fighting, unpleasant). I said it.

3:01 PM  

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