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Muni Challenge ends, Mayor Lee rides only twice in one month

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Supervisor Scott Wiener, left, is shown taking a selfie photo with Muni riders during the 22 day Muni Challenge. Wiener came out on top in the challenge, riding Muni 106 times.

The Transit Riders advocacy group at the beginning of June offered a challenge to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee — ride Muni every day for 22 days, like many San Franciscans do, to gain a new understanding of transit’s troubles.The politicos were tasked with snapping shots and tweeting them on Twitter with the hashtag #OnBoardSF.Now 300-plus bus rides and over 300-plus social-media selfies later, the Muni Challenge has ended. By Monday, June 22, local politicians rode a bus or train at least once.The playful stunt was inspired by the 1993 ballot Proposition AA, a nonbinding measure tasking city officials with riding Muni twice weekly. The Transit Riders said riding Muni will help city officials better understand “the rider’s daily experience” to inspire planning a more reliable and robust transit system. Proposition AA was authored by Nevile Stocken, a then-50-year-old volunteer on Jerry Brown’s presidential campaign. The long-time Muni rider saw a glaring disconnect from elected officials.“I’d gotten really ticked off at a headline that Mayor Frank Jordan had a plan to fix Muni by raising fares and cutting the service to neighborhoods,” Stocken said. “Off the top of my head I said, ‘you know this idiot should be riding the bus to see what it’s like!’” The proposition passed, and 22-years-later the supervisors did just that. In the preliminary final count, three supervisors led the pack: Supervisor Scott Wiener topped the list, with 106 rides, Supervisor John Avalos with 65 rides, and Supervisor David Campos with 52 rides.“There are no winners or losers here,” said Thea Selby, chair of the Transit Riders, it was meant as a Muni learning experience.Avalos got lost on his first day riding Muni to City Hall, tweeting “outta breath fr sprint to 54.” Supervisor Eric Mar tweeted, “Thx @sfmta_muni driver 4seeing #multiModalMAR run for #5Fulton on sprained ankle & stopping to pick me up!” And Supervisor London Breed tweeted “Looking a hot mess with Vallie on the 6, it’s been a long night!”Wiener headed out beyond his normal Muni routes (like the F-line) to take the L-Taraval to Ocean Beach, or the 38-Geary. The 38 needs “shock absorbers,” he tweeted.Full ridership numbers are available in the embedded tweet, below.

All the officials participated at least once, but some less than others.Last in number of Muni trips were Mayor Ed Lee with two rides, Supervisor Katy Tang with one ride, and Supervisor Malia Cohen, who logged two Muni rides.The mayor’s participation struck Selby as half-hearted, she wrote to the Examiner.“This was not in the spirit, maybe not even in the letter of the challenge,” she said. “We’re glad the mayor ‘took’ the Challenge and hope that he can move forward with more passion for advocating additional funding for Muni.”The mayor strongly campaigned for Proposition A, which directed $500 million to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, much of which went to Muni. But according to budget documents, the transit system also has over $11.5 billion in future unmet capital needs.The Transit Riders group plan to celebrate the end of the Muni Challenge at Mr. Smith’s club, on 34 7th Street, Wednesday, June 24 from 6-9pm.The Transit Riders solicited comments from the public, asking them for their ideas in improving Muni. We’ve printed some of these comments below. Note: names are web user-names only.Helen BlockI was in Scotland last fall—-all buses there have a dedicated space up front for wheelchairs, baby strollers etc. No need for the driver to get up and lift seats to make room; loading/ unloading is faster due to this.Susan RuhneKeep pushing supervisors to ride daily! Most seemed to think the 22 day challenge was a joke.Jessica Cummins I would do something to help protect the bus drivers from the aggressive people breaking all the rules (pitbulls on board, fist fights etc).Charmaine TurnerOn the 38R bus I would have undercover guards riding the buses on peek [sic] hours. There is too much vandalism, bullying, and stealing.Bob Gunderson Shut it all down to make room for more car parking & driving lanes.Below we’ve embedded tweets from San Francisco politicos using the hashtag #OnBoardSF.

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