Redbeardedguy - Posted on 10 June 2011

Thornton Kimes



"Oh!  You gonna  play it that way?  I'm opening the back door for my brotha!"  --anonymous MUNI rider


The San Francisco public transit bus system (MUNI) driver's union recently voted against a proposal to change the rules governing how they work, what they get paid, and yet another raise in bus fares for riders.  MUNI drivers have one of the toughest urban jobs, and they have to navigate socio-economic realities as well as the busy streets of the city.

The Po'Lice get on MUNI buses and cite people who ride for free--deliberately and accidentally; I've seen both be caught up in bus/bus stop sweeps.  I was riding a #22 bus that was 10 minutes from reaching the POOR Magazine stop when a man on the bus started cursing.  I didn't understand why until I saw the Po'Lice waiting for the bus to stop.

He got lucky, someone gave him a transfer.  There was no public humiliation, except for the fact that he rightfully feared getting a ticket for $100 he didn't have.  Many people I've ridden with routinely open the back doors because they feel that the people who govern the city, and MUNI itself, doesn't give a damn about them--so why should they play by rules that only punish them?

The shift to the use of pre-paid Clipper Cards and electronic card readers hasn't changed that reality and I don't believe it will--and that is only partly because card users can get on via the back doors and swipe their cards there too.

I will say it more times than this (until someone takes what is being said seriously):  change the way money and services are collected, spent, and distributed; change the perceptions of and relationships between the poor and everyone who isn't; make MUNI more affordable, or free for at least parts of the day--or all day--or MUNI drivers and riders will drive and ride the razor's edge forever.


Sign-up for POOR email!