Two genteel ladies were leaving their downtown office on a shopping jaunt when an overzealous Muni passenger began shoving anyone standing between him and a potential seat.
The ladies were nearly knocked out of their high heels, but their sense of decorum remained steely as ever.
One turned to the other and uttered the prophetic line, “Someone really needs to craft some manners for the Muni.”
Days later in May, www.munimanners.com was born and so were the ladies’ alter egos: Muni Lady 01 and Muni Lady 02.
While poor hygiene, loud singing, nose picking and other boorish behavior would make any other transit rider turn up his or her iPod and look at his or her shoes, the Muni Ladies seek to gently educate offenders.
“Most of the transit blogs out there were rants, and we thought we could offer something positive,” Muni Lady 01 said. “We’re feeling the impact of ridership at an all-time high. Gas prices are through the roof and we need some rules of the road.”
Their efforts have struck a chord.
While the blog takes on etiquette breaches on Bay Area transit, it has become a hit with riders across the world.
In five weeks, people in 39 states and 19 countries have logged onto Muni Manners.
The Muni Ladies demur when asked for their names, revealing only that they are high-tech marketing co-workers in their 30s. They’re both longtime Bay Area residents who live in the Noe Valley-Mission-Castro areas and ride transit daily.
In addition to posts from the Ladies commending politeness and correcting rudeness, readers are quick to offer sensibility-offending anecdotes from their own rides.
“By far the biggest infractions are entering and exiting the train, not minimizing cell phone use and not giving your seat to a more deserving rider,” Muni Lady 01 said.
Although no line’s riders are immune to bad manners, the Ladies say cell phone junkies tend to be more prevalent where the reception is better — on surface trains and buses. BART riders, on the other hand, are most likely to annoy fellow passengers with open-mouthed snoring. Muni lines around Union Square and Chinatown are crowded and filled with shoppers, so improper shopping-bag etiquette flourishes.
“We’d like to see manners and decorum improve on every line in The City,” Muni Lady 02 said.
Muni spokesman Judson True said the Web site contains a posting he would take to heart.
“I take it as a good personal reminder not to sing while I’m listening to my iPod,” True said. “Especially since I’m tone-deaf.”
“Muni is a microcosm of urban life,” he said. “Any civilizing influence is welcome.”
Muni manners in action
The Muni Ladies have compiled a list of acceptable behavior on transit vehicles.
– Always let exiting passengers leave the train or bus before you board.
– Keep cell phone use to a minimum when riding public transportation.
– Allow a modest distance when standing above passengers who are seated.
– If you are young or able-bodied, give up your seat to someone who isn’t.
– Don’t rely on others to pick up after you — always dispose of your waste.
– Avoid using your fingers to unblock nasal obstructions.
– Stay alert and awake on transit vehicles to limit unwanted body contact and avoid blocking fellow passengers.
– Help save space and avoid jostling others by properly stowing your bags.
– Avoid subjecting fellow passengers to unsolicited serenades.