Man vs. Muni: The N-Judas redemption 

I had a couple of reasons why I wanted to race the N-Judah in the latest installment of the Man vs. Muni series.

Muni managers have groused in the past about the large number of stops on The City’s most-traveled transit line, which considerably slows down service. I also heard frequent horror stories from readers about being passed up by overcrowded N-Judah trains, and I wanted to see if Muni’s new complimentary express shuttles were actually working as advertised.

And maybe, just maybe, I was feeling a little cocky after whipping the Powell-Mason cable car line in my last race.

So I mapped out the next victim — I was going to take on the N-Judah from Ninth Avenue and Irving Street to Carl and Stanyan streets.

I thought I could beat a train in a footrace. Spoiler alert — this didn’t happen. The last edition of Man vs. Muni should be re-titled (little, weak, slow) Boy vs. Muni.


8:40 Examiner photographer Mike Koozmin and I take off from the stop at Ninth and Irving two minutes before the scheduled arrival of the N-Judah. (This is a train I’m racing; I need a head start.) Things get off to an ominous beginning when we find out the boarding spot has been moved back 60 feet on Ninth Avenue due to construction work. I think to myself that it would be really sad if I lost this race by that distance. Thankfully, that didn’t end up being a problem.

8:41 We cruise down Irving Street and cross Eighth Avenue at a nice, healthy pace. However, since the N-Judah takes a right on Irving Street from Ninth Avenue, I can’t see it behind me and I have no idea how far back it is. I need the fear of Muni to really compete.

8:42 We get stopped for what seems like an eternity by a red light at Seventh Avenue. Still no N-Judah in sight, but I get berated by some guy for not wanting to pet his dog. I press on, refusing to get distracted by that cute little poodle and his strange little owner.

8:43 First sighting of the N-Judah as I cross Sixth Avenue. This could get ugly.

8:44 The N-Judah barrels past me as I make my way to Fifth Avenue. During this time, I have a revelation about the importance of technological advancements in the transportation industry. There is a reason why no major cities rely on rickshaws to make up their public transit system. Humans are very, very slow compared to machines.

8:45 A glimmer of hope! The N-Judah is stuck boarding a slew of passengers on Fifth Avenue. I retake the lead, and contemplate which actor will portray me in the movie adaptation of this inspiring underdog story.

8:46 Movie plans get put on hold when the N-Judah unceremoniously passes me near Fourth Avenue. I know I’ve made claims in the past about operators having a personal vendetta against me, but I swear on the life of that cute little poodle that the guy driving the N-Judah points at Koozmin and me and does a celebratory fist pump.

8:47-8:50 The print equivalent of dead air time on TV. Nothing happens — the N-Judah is so far ahead I can’t even see it. Only thing of note is Koozmin’s politicking to end the race early and go back to the office.

8:51 We get to Carl and Stanyan streets probably about three minutes after the N-Judah. We do have one small moral victory in this race — right as we arrive at the destination point, another N-Judah train pulls up behind us. We didn’t get lapped!

8:52 My hat goes off to the N: You’re a classy opponent. I sincerely apologize for The San Francisco Examiner’s recent  “N-Judas” cover story. That was uncalled for.

About The Author

Will Reisman

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