With bus stops crammed together on seemingly every block — some are as close as 200 feet apart — traveling on the 24-Divisadero can be a laborious, stop-and-go experience for Muni passengers. And the street lacks public transit-dedicated lanes, forcing Muni buses to compete with automobiles on the bustling artery.
Click on the photo at right to see a slideshow of Man vs. Muni.
By racing the slow-moving bus on foot from Geary Boulevard to Haight Street, I would have the opportunity to highlight the route’s need for bus stop consolidation and dedicated transit lanes — both crucial elements for speeding up Muni’s historically inefficient service.
That’s the spiel I gave my editors, at least. But after getting my butt kicked by the 30-Stockton last month, I wasn’t really interested in exposing some systemic flaw with The City’s transit system.
This was about revenge.
I intended to go all Charles Bronson on Muni.
9:17 a.m. - Photographer Mike Koozmin and I planned to meet at Geary and Divisadero at 9 a.m. But I was late getting there due to slow service on the 38-Geary. Falling back on our contingency plan, we decide to depart at 9:25 a.m.
9:25 a.m. - After engaging in some preparatory calisthenics, we leave. According to the Next Muni tracker at the stop, we take off about four minutes before the 24-Divisadero. That’s OK — I’m not interested in making this a fair fight.
9:28 a.m. - I’m beginning to wonder if this will be too easy as I cross Eddy Street with no bus in sight. Do I make things interesting by stopping at a bar for a St. Patrick’s Day beer?
9:31 - Still no bus in sight. Even with a healthy lead, I opt to cross McAllister in spite of a red light. Last time, this was a point of contention between me and Mike. Sensing his thirst for victory, I make the illegal trek and get no beef from him.
9:32 a.m. - Disaster nearly strikes when I drop the cap of my pen while jotting down notes near Hayes Street. I make a mad scramble about 30 feet behind me to pick up my equipment, knowing the lost time could cost me victory. I swoop down, snatch the vital piece of plastic and quickly pivot in the right direction. I wonder if I can bill the newspaper for hazard pay.
9:33 a.m. - Mike says he sees the bus right behind me. I nearly tear my ACL whipping around to confirm the sighting, but he was merely joking. How hilarious.
9:33 a.m. - Must not sweat — anonymous online commentators will ridicule me when they see the photos.
9:34 a.m. - At Oak Street, just two blocks from victory, a man stops and asks me how to get to Castro Street. While I have no time for chit-chat, I’m desperate to prove my local credentials to this tourist. I point him in the right direction and resume the race. Way back behind me,
I can see the 24 for the first time.
9:35 a.m. - Making the march up the hill from Page Street to Haight Street, Mike — a big guy who has been running backward the whole way with his camera equipment in tow — begins to feel a little woozy. We had made a pact that if he has a heart attack, I’ll alert the authorities, but I’m not obligated to stop.
9:36 a.m. - Victory, sweet victory! I arrive at Haight and Divisadero with a healthy lead over the 24. Just to rub it in, I slam-dunk the bus stop. I assume the patrons look stunned because they think they just witnessed a real-life NBA star on their block.
9:39 a.m. - The 24-Divisadero finally arrives. Sorry Muni — we’re tied at one victory apiece now. Who’s next?