As of Sept. 26, the MUNI has been implementing several different changes to some of its current bus lines. The routes of the 7X, 9/9R, 18, 28/28R, 29, 43, and 57 will be slightly altered and the frequency of eight buses (1, 9R, 18, 21, 22, 24, 43, and 57) and three (K, T, and N) trains will be increased. The 14X and 38AX/BX will also have extended express hours, the 14X now running from 6:15am and the 38AX/BX running until 9:10am.
The change that most directly affects students is the change of the route and frequency of the 43 Masonic. The route of the 43 was slightly extended, allowing it to serve the Presidio Transit Center while only adding about 4 minutes to the ride. The 43 has also exchanged its terminal route with the 28R, so the 43 now services Fort Mason as well as the Presidio.
The 43 also comes more frequently. In the morning hours, it now comes every nine minutes rather than every 10 minutes, and in the afternoon and evening hours it now comes every 10 minutes, down from every 12 minutes. This will hopefully reduce the amount of time that students have to wait, especially seeing as the 43 is the main transportation to Trader Joe’s and Target.
All of the buses are seeing updates, as the MUNI system has begun to incorporate a new type of coach bus. The new buses are 60 foot hybrid electric buses and electric trolley buses. These new coaches have mostly been seen along the route of the Fulton 5 in the routes around the University of San Francisco, and in the words of freshman Michelle Lentfer, is “the upgrade the people of San Francisco deserve.” Lentfer also touched on a point which is central to many complaints: the slowness of the bus. “It’s an inconvenience and upsetting to me, especially when I have to be somewhere on time,” she said. Despite the updates to the buses, the speed of the routes has failed to get significantly faster, and the buses are still victim to delays of all sorts, adding to their unreliability.
While those who live on campus are mildly affected, those who live off-campus often view the bus changes, as well as the slow speed of the bus, as more than a small annoyance. For Robert MacDonald, a junior at USF, who lives in Oakland, the changes in the bus system can be detrimental. “The MUNI is notorious for not being punctual,” MacDonald said. He added that the lack of coordination with the 5 can be a pain. The buses often arrive at the same time rather than being spread out and coming with a better frequency. The 5R and the 5 have overlapping routes, and typically get stuck behind one another at various stops, reducing the otherwise positive effect the rapid route has.
In some cases, the fact that the bus is so unreliable leads to a more convenient alternative: Uber. Those who miss their bus or are running late often choose this option as they know they will arrive on time. MUNI usually takes at least twice the time it would take to drive, giving students good reasoning to utilize Uber. Alexander Gomez, a sophomore, also lives off campus and mentioned that he “would rather take Uber since it is faster and more convenient,” however he still uses both the bus and Uber.
For those who have either lost their MUNI pass or know they will need to have a MUNI pass over the summer, MUNI is now introducing an app called MUNI mobile, which allows customers to purchase passes over their phone. This is a plus for those who have no desire to carry around change for their fare or upload money to a clipper card. MUNI is looking for customers to test their app starting in October, and are required to fill out a questionnaire (located on the website) to apply.
Although the majority of the Sept. 26 updates will not directly affect the area directly around USF, it is important to stay up to date with the changes that do occur. The MuniWatch app, as well as Routesy and Rover, are all reliable methods to stay up to date on the latest bus changes, and also check for the latest bus arrival times. MuniWatch is regularly updated and gives the most recent routes, so it is slightly more reliable than the other options. In order to stay informed, it is also important to check the MUNI websites for updates, as bus routes do change according to city events, such as this past weekend’s Hardly Strictly.
For more information about the MUNI updates, check out their website at https://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/transit.