Sitting for hours in traffic is miserable. It seems to turn otherwise normal people into something wild and animalistic, forever jockeying for position amidst a never ending stream of cars, but never actually seeming to get anywhere.
Every morning before work, and every evening after work? No thank you.
One of the huge draws for me of moving to San Francisco was the availability of public transportation. I didn’t want to have to drive anywhere on a daily basis; instead I wanted to be able to get by on my own two feet, via MUNI buses, or BART. When apartment hunting, I first checked Google maps for the bus route before seeing anything in person to confirm that the commute would be a simple and relatively short process each day. One bus and no transfers, please.
All in all, I got pretty lucky… I stumbled on and quickly scooped up a great (little!) apartment in Nob Hill that’s a short ride from my office on the 1 California bus route. It’s always an interesting ride with plenty of views to see along the way and plentiful people watching!
If it’s a clear day, as we pass Leavenworth, you can catch a quick glimpse all the way to Alcatraz, sitting alone forebodingly out in the Bay. You have to pay attention to catch it, and it’s much smaller and distant than this picture show!
Depending on the day, the bus might be empty or I might get on to standing room, only to end up smushed between an elderly Chinese lady getting off at Stockton to do her grocery shopping and a well dressed business man on his way to work. Everything is possible.
Next we pass Portsmouth Square, also called Chinatown’s living room, where you can see groups of people gathered for their morning tai chi or a little routine gambling, penny poker or go.
At Jones as we crest over the top of the hill, you can see the outline of the buildings of the Financial District, the Transamerica Pyramid and the Bay Bridge against the background of the morning fog. It’s a highlight you can really only catch if you’re standing near the front of the bus looking out the front window. Most days I see the pyramid as we approach its base (like the picture below) signaling that the end of my commute is near and the day is really about to begin…
It’s a far cry from car centric commute in Dallas. Most days I love it, but it has it’s moments too — when the bus is so full you are pressed up against strangers, when frustrations flare because a few enterprising passengers have decided to cram into the back of the bus preventing the doors from closing and the bus from moving, and when a particularly maniacal bus driver seems to get pleasure from braking quickly and stopping short sending passengers flying all over the bus.
Not pictured here are Grace Cathedral and the Fairmont Hotel nestled high atop Nob Hill. They’re visible on my way home and at the top of the hill, meaning if the bus is too packed, I can get off and walk the rest of the way home downhill!
It’s all in a day’s ride on MUNI.