Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Miseries of the M: Cursed, Incompetant, or just plain Sadistic?

The Miseries if the M

OR How I Experienced MUNI's Torquemada 

After I read the notice about MUNI's new metro trains the only thing that came to mind was that however bright and spiffy the cars would look, the M line would still be the M line.

The M, by the way, stands for MISERABLE.

Today (maybe the M line was celebrating 9/11?):

2:55PM: the M was running late as usual, but the crowd at the 19th and Holloway platform was enormous, indicating that it was VERY late. It took 20 minutes for it to arrive (after the digital display said 11 minutes). I would venture to guess that there were more than 120 people packed in the three car train. 

After arriving (slowly) at West Portal Ave., we were told that we were being dumped off (ahem, "transferred") at West Portal, then were told to get off half a block away from the station. It was obvious that the driver was told to turn back to "get back on his schedule" totally disregarding ours. Then we waited another 8 minutes for another train - which turned out to be an M.

Late trains filled with disgruntled riders seem to be the raison d'etre for the M line. So do dump-offs, M trains suddenly turned into shuttles - or Ls or Ks and the attitude that M riders are somewhat second class. These and other maladies of the M have made it the darling of ... Uber.

MUNI's excuses abound:

Traffic? Door malfunction? Body on the tracks leftover from previous train?

Who cares? We've heard them all - the countless excuses have numbed us: we can't believe anything remotely rational.

After experiencing years of this kind of frustration, after years of being dumped off at West Portal both inbound and outbound, hundreds of missed appointments, watching numbers on the GPS boards bounce around like lottery balls, scurrying to catch makeshift shuttles when the Line was shut down, and getting stuck in the tunnel, I was forced to come to this conclusion: the M line is maliciously making its riders miserable.

The M, in other words, runs on sadism.

I've compiled instances with photos giving evidence that M riders are definitely treated with disdain: the "miseries" show that times between M trains are greater than between Ks or Ls and in some instances unbelievable.

Once while waiting at the Castro St station for the M outbound, the board declared "32 minutes" , then, in the space of twenty minutes, THREE almost empty Ks and THREE almost empty Ls came by.

Insultingly sadistic.

Annotated photos of MUNI's gps displays tell the plight of M riders and their daily miseries.

A not uncommon sight: longer waits for outbound passengers. (And no, an M had not just left the station)

Another example: The K had just left, so this K was still arriving sooner than the M. At 11:00AM? Standing at the station for 27 minutes while Ks and Ls stop by is not a fun pastime.

Rush hour: knowing that this particular M is too be packed (because it's late), getting on an outgoing M may take another 30 minutes.

Outbound at the Powell station. In the span of those 7 minutes, 2 Ns 2Ks 3Js passed. Also: both the L and the K were changed from other trains and arrived at Powell within 2 minutes. 

Notice the ridiculous inbound number. Look at the blank K inbound and it's number outbound. Truly someone has it in for the K almost as much as the M.

This time.

10 minutes ago at Civic Center a station an M was scheduled to arrive in 2 minutes. Took the L to a west Portal where the M says 9 minutes.

M in 9 minutes, right? Except it's not an M, it's a shuttle. 

Translation: without riders given any lead time, that M was turned into I a "Castro Shuttle" (probably at Montgomery) people who board at Embarcadero or Montgomery may have no idea that they are only going to west portal, while the people at Civic center have no idea that the next M will be a shuttle. This happens frequently, frustrating M riders all the time - no apologies.

A word about "dump offs" (as I call them): it seems that the M experiences more of these "transfers" than the K or the L. Outbound ones always add minutes of travel due to the fact that the next actual M might not arrive at West Portal for a while. Once, when the M turned into an L at the last minute, riders complained loudly when they saw only three people remaining on the newly minted L train. After a few choice words to a MUNI crew member, an outgoing L was turned into an M. All the while the crew member was laughing.

During an inbound dump off at West Portal, I asked irately why? "They told me to turn around to get back on my schedule." Apparently M riders don't have any schedules of note. 

I almost got snarky when a driver shouted "You'll have to get off. I'm going to the Zoo!" One the tip of my tongue to shout back "Oh dear! I hope your mother's OK!"

May 27 3:45:

19th and Holloway: M inbound just passed. Sign above: "Downtown- 11min" "LRV not running- take M ocean view bus"!!! WTF? 3:56 - M arrives. Confusion reigns.

The gap says it all: note how far the M is FROM Castro station

June 5 2:52PM 19th and Holloway - 3 (yes, 3!!) Ms spaced 2 minutes apart (?!)

7:34pm - 19th Holloway station: "M Balboa Park 7min and 9 min. M Downtown 10min and 35 min. Talk about erratic!!

6/8- Train #120648. Dumped off at West Portal and took a K. Driver made some bizarre remarks about a horse then whinnied! He left us with "And remember folks, MUNI loves you!!" Groans were audible.

An incredibly weird pile up of Ms WTF is going on 1, 2,3 maybe, but FOUR? Maybe one real M and three shuttles?

10:51 - 7/18/17 just now got on the M - waited on the platform 22 minutes while numbers on the digital display bounced around like balls in a lotto machine.


Well, I'd love to say, that's all, but it certainly isn't: These things happen to M riders on daily basis. Once, when MUNI got enough complaints, they posted rather flippant, unfunny notices for a meeting: "Is the crowded M crowding your style?" (showing a crowded car with one man obviously trying to cruise another man). The meeting consisted primarily of a "proposed" plan to make the entire M line underground.

But, knowing the rate at which MUNI works, not in our lifetimes.

We know that a slew of complaints will result in the usual sloughed off "sorry for the inconvenience" (I often think that's what they say to people they've just run over), and this rant is really no different, with the exception and it proves that M riders are definitely second class.

The Sadistic M and its Torquemada

As the saying goes "We might as well laugh at this or deserve it." My favorite pertinent quote is from Mark Twain: "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand." So I've composed a little "Miseries of the M" video using Mel Brooks' "The Inquisition" song as a backdrop. I dubbed in Mel's voice with my own "It's the M Line" lyrics.

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