Candlestick Park is tucked away in a remote, underserved section of southeastern San Francisco, creating a nightmarish game-day traffic situation. But taking public transit isn’t any better — Muni’s long, lumbering T-Third Street light-rail line drops passengers off a mile from the stadium.
For the 49ers’ season opener against the Seahawks on Sunday, The San Francisco Examiner attempted to find out the least painful way to get to the game: driving or taking Muni.
Starting from Carl and Cole streets, reporter Will Reisman was dispatched to travel on Muni and colleague Andrea Koskey set off via automobile. The results were telling (hint: don’t take Muni to Candlestick Park).
|Andrea Koskey||Will Reisman|
|Type of trip||Car||Muni|
|Time of trip||37 minutes||1 hour 20 minutes|
|Length of trip||9 miles||About 10 miles|
|Most frustrating aspect||Cost to park||Dropped off mile away from stadium|
11:47 I’m in the paper’s PT Cruiser with Examiner photographer Mike Koozmin.
11:49 The N-Judah conductor rings the bell, indicating the start of our race. See you at the finish line, Reisman.
11:49 I start out west on Cole Street toward Stanyan, figuring this might be the straightest shot to U.S. Highway 101.
11:52 I take Stanyan north toward Oak Street, but we hit traffic just before Oak.
11:56 I make it onto Oak and am cruising at 25 to 30 mph when I realize I’m going to be short on cash for parking, which could cost me the race! I must stop at a bank.
12:01 I find the Bank of America at Fell and Broderick, but the crowd for Falletti Foods is creating gridlock in the parking lot.
12:03 I’m still waiting for a slowpoke to leave their parking spot and becoming impatient; I can’t lose to Muni.
12:04 Finally on the road again, I again hit traffic on Oak — and I’m distracted by the sight of Supervisor David Chiu’s “Chiubacca” campaign mascot. Koozmin sends a friendly text to Reisman to find out where he is. No response.
12:10 I’m finally on the freeway and moving at a good speed — 55 mph.
12:15 Exits for Candlestick are in sight. Signs warning of “slow moving” traffic due to the football game prove to be false starts.
12:17 I decide to take the Tunnel Avenue exit and am immediately met with scalpers selling tickets, but we don’t have time to find out a price. We still need to park and there’s no sign of Reisman or his location.
12:18 As we follow the sea of gold and red toward the stadium, I can taste victory.
12:23 I almost faint upon seeing that it costs $30 to park, but I press on knowing I haven’t won yet because Reisman could be lurking nearby ready to do his victory dance.
12:26 When I finally reach Reisman, he is still on the T-Third Street line just passing AT&T Park. It seems the car is much faster than Muni, but the cost may not be worth it. Koozmin and I mingle with fans on this sunny afternoon while we wait for Reisman to arrive. Victory!
11:49 After waiting for two minutes, I board a three-car N-Judah train packed to the gills with fans heading to the Giants game, which starts at the same time as the Niners contest. Thirty seconds into the journey and it’s not looking good for the public transit rider.
11:55 I arrive at the Carl and Duboce stop, where more Giants fans flood the train. Despite the team’s recent struggles, fans are still packing the ballpark — and public transit.
12:01 I transfer to the T-Third Street line at the Civic Center station. I figure it will be a short wait for the next train because of the 49ers game. Then I remember I’m taking Muni ... next train in nine minutes.
12:10 Despite having both 49ers and Giants games to contend with, Muni sends out a paltry one-car T-Third train to service its customers. The train is already overcrowded when it arrives. I ignore the operator’s warning not to board and cram inside.
12:29 I finally get to AT&T Park, where the sea of Giants fans mercifully departs. Now it’s just me and about a dozen brave 49ers fans. While the T-Third slowly crawls down the street, I picture Koskey already at Candlestick Park. My pulse accelerates.
12:54 One hour and five minutes into my journey, I catch a glimpse of Candlestick. A few stray 49ers fans have boarded along the Third Street corridor, but they barely outnumber Seahawks faithful on the train. Also, with all the rowdiness being reported at the stadium recently, I expected to see alcohol on board, but only one person is drinking a beer and they
are hardly misbehaving.
12:58 At the Gilman/Paul stop, the Muni operator makes the long-awaited announcement for Candlestick Park. Nice try. After traveling on the T for 48 minutes, I actually have to transfer to a shuttle bus to take us the rest of the way.
1:01 Now the real fun starts. The small little shuttle bus is by far the most uncomfortable portion of my lengthy trip. Making matters worse is the fact that the temperature has increased by about 20 degrees since the journey began. The kid standing next to me is dripping sweat.
1:09 Exactly 80 minutes after I stepped onto the N-Judah, I arrive at Candlestick Park. Edmund Hillary had Everest. I had game day Muni. Not sure which idea was crazier.