Two things likely to draw San Franciscans together: The Giants reaching the playoffs, and commiserating about Muni
On Thursday, the two converged, after a 10-minute Muni meltdown around noon caused lengthy delays throughout the subway system just as thousands of fans were converging at AT&T Park.
It took Lauren Fisch from 4:15 p.m. to 5:25 p.m. to get from her home in Noe Valley to Powell station — where she finally, out of frustration, jumped off the Muni and walked to the ballpark. And the delay was the second that day: She’d been forced to drive downtown earlier because the subway had shut down.
“Today was not a good Muni day,” she said as she stood outside the ballpark Thursday.
The entire train system shut down when power to the central control room went out while Muni was conducting maintenance on a fire safety alarm, said Muni safety director John Haley. A generator at the central system failed around 11:56 a.m. Thursday, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.
The power was back on within 10 minutes. But the effects lasted throughout the day because the system is outdated and needs maintenance.
Operators had to control trains manually and communication was cut off. Last year, the Board of Supervisors awarded the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, which oversees Muni, $30 million to improve the central system.
The subway system accounts for roughly 120,000 Muni trips daily.
Giants fan and Cole Valley resident Rich Uyttebroek said he’s tired of having to consider Muni delays when reaching the ballpark.
“This is the second major Muni meltdown in two weeks on big Giants game days,” he said, referring to delays that occurred before last Friday’s game against the Padres. “It’s gotten to the point that whenever I have to take Muni, I just tell my friends I’ll get there whenever. I’ll get there sometime this weekend.”
With the Giants in the playoffs for the first time in seven years, baseball fever has officially hit The City, and AT&T Park and its nearby bars have been ground zero for the thousands of fans.
There has just been one problem: Actually getting to the park.
As evidenced by Muni’s late-afternoon meltdown Thursday, taking public transportation to the China Basin neighborhood can be quite the risk, but the second choice for fans — grabbing a cab — has been equally as difficult.
That is because taxi drivers in The City have been reluctant to travel back and forth from the park due to a lack of cab stands in the neighborhood. A lone loading zone at Second and King streets cannot handle the crush of fans that descend upon AT&T Park for every home game, said John Lazar, president of the Luxor cab company.
Lazar and other cab drivers want the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — the department in charge of regulating city taxis — to open up a temporary cab stand at Third and King streets. Not only will an extra cab stand provide for more passenger pickups and drop-offs, it will also allow taxis to better service The City’s disabled community.
“The existing cab stand at Second and King streets will not be sufficient to handle the needs of the many seniors and fans with disabilities who will be coming to AT&T Park in the coming weeks,” Lazar said.
Setting up a temporary cab stand would not be difficult at Third and King streets, Lazar said. To demonstrate that ease, Lazar and other cab drivers will be making stops at the proposed locale using their paratransit vehicles from 6 to 9 a.m. today.
— Will Reisman