Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
San Francisco Municipal Railway
The San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni as it is commonly known, is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California. In 2000, it served 46.7 square miles (121 km²), excepting the Farallon Islands, with an operating budget of $380.9 million. In terms of ridership, Muni is the 7th largest transit agency in the United States. In 2002, ridership amongst all forms of transit totaled 233,015,740 persons, with markedly decreased ridership on weekends.
Muni operates 365 days a year. Service continues 24 hours a day, but is much reduced after 1 a.m. Muni routes operate on a schedule, and the frequency of service varies at various times of day. Trip planning has been made easier by the implementation of GPS monitoring for some routes through NextBus, allowing more informed ETAs.
Muni is an integral part of public transit throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, connecting with regional services such as BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and AC Transit. Many weekday riders are commuters, as the daytime weekday population in San Francisco exceeds its normal residential population. Muni shares some stations with BART, which can lead to confusion amongst visitors. Travelers can connect to San Francisco International Airport and nearby Oakland International Airport via BART.
All Muni lines run roughly inside San Francisco city limits, except for occasional Sunday and Holiday service via the 76-line to the Marin Headlands area, a popular hiking and biking destination. Most intercity connections are provided by BART and Caltrain heavy rail, AC Transit busses at the Transbay Terminal and Golden Gate Transit and SamTrans downtown.
During the late 1990s, amid aging equipment and allegedly poor management, Muni developed a reputation for declining service. San Francisco residents responded in 1996 by organizing Rescue Muni, a transit riders association. Infrastructure has since improved. Muni's previous Boeing streetcars were criticized as being unreliable, and are now replaced by newer Italian Breda streetcars.
The Muni publishes a highly detailed map of the city, which folds to pocket-size, and shows all Muni, BART, Caltrain, and connecting service routes, with extensive color coding. The same map in a slightly different form is mounted on shelters, which can be found at many bus and car stops.
Bus and car stops throughout the city vary from Metro car stations with raised platforms in the subway and at the more heavily used surface stops, to small shelters, to simple signs, to nothing more than a yellow stripe across the tracks, on a utility pole, or on the roadway.
Fares are as of 2005 $1.25 for adults and $0.35 for seniors over 65, youth aged 5-17, and disabled persons. Fares were increased in 2003 in the face of municipal and state budget cuts, and an additional fare increase is pending for late 2005. Proof-of-payment (POP) is handled through a transfer slip, either a piece of newsprint-like paper, torn to indicate expiration time (buses and streetcar) or print on thicker, card-board-like paper (at subway stations and a few outdoor stops such as San Francisco State University), any of which can potentially be checked by fare inspectors. Frequent riders can get a Fast Pass for every month at a cost of $45 for adults and $10 for youth and seniors. Cable car fare is $3 per trip, with no transfers issued or accepted, or $9 for a one-day pass good on all regular-service Muni lines. A one-week pass is available for $12, but requires a surcharge on cable cars. "Passports" are folding scratch-off passes that can be purchased by mail, or at various places throughout the city; they are good on all regular-service lines without surcharge, including cable cars, and cost $9 for a 1-day pass, $15 for a 3-day pass, or $20 for a 7-day pass.
In March 2005, the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, voted to increase the standard fare another twenty-five cents to $1.50 and the discount fare for children, seniors and disabled persons to fifty cents on buses, trains, and streetcars. The fare for cable cars would rise to $5.00. If the agency's budget is approved by the Board of Supervisors, they will go into effect on September 1, 2005.
Special round-trip fares are set for buses going to Monster Park during football games. They are $6 for adults, $4 for children and seniors, and $3 for anyone with a pass. Riders are given a special pass once they pay the fare, which they can then use on the return-trip from the park. 
The express lines only run during peak hours, during mornings they run towards Downtown and during the evening they run away from Downtown. All express lines have an "X", "AX", or "BX" following the line's number. Lines with just X are standard express lines, and ones with AX or BX are for express lines along longer routes. A line with AX and BX expresses has sections where each one stops, the BX lines are shorter and their stops are closer to Downtown, while the AX lines are longer and stop in the section of the line further away from Downtown than where the BX runs.
The 14, 28, 38 and 71 lines all have buses providing limited service along their routes. They make fewer stops than the standard line in order to provide for quicker travel. Unlike expresses busses, they run all day long. All limited buses have an "L" following the line's number.
Owl service runs from 1AM to 5AM. There is Owl service along the 5, 14, 22, 24, 38 and 108 lines, and as bus service along the K, L, M, and N lines. Two additional lines, the 90 and 91, only operate during Owl hours.
During football games, the special routes 9X, 28X, 47X, and 86 run to Monster Park. Note that these routes are not standard express routes and that the 9X that runs during football games is not the same as the normal 9X route. The 9X, 28X, and 47X follow roughly the same routes as the 9, 28, and 47, respectively, and then continue towards Monster Park. The 86 is a shuttle service that only runs between Third Street and the park.
Muni operates about 1,000 vehicles: diesel and electric buses, light rail vehicles known as Muni Metro streetcars that run both under and above ground, PCC streetcars running on the F Market heritage line, and the San Francisco cable car system which is a tourist icon for the city. Many buses are diesel powered, but more than 300 are zero-emissions electric trolleybuses powered by overhead electrical wires.
The longest Muni line is the 24.1 mile 91-owl, a nighttime only route that blends several other routes together, and during the day the longest route is the 17.4 29 Sunset. The shortest route is the 89 Laguna Honda at .6 miles. The steepest grade climbed by Muni vehicle is 23.1% by a bus, 22.8% by a trolleybus, and 21% by a cable car.
Two interesting interections of note: Powell and Market Streets and California and Market Streets. At these two intersections, three types of rail gauges meet: Bay Area Rapid Transit's 5 feet, 6 inch (1.676 m) rail gauge, Muni Metro's standard gauge, and the San Francisco cable car system's (narrow gauge, 1067 mm (3'6")).
The Muni network consists of the following lines:
- 54 bus lines (several using articulated buses)
- 17 trolleybus lines (several using articulated buses)
- 5 light rail lines. These lines, collectively known as Muni Metro, run articulated light rail vehicles. The lines include underground, grade-separated, and street-running portions
- 3 cable car lines; see article San Francisco cable car system
- 1 streetcar line (using heritage streetcars) known as the F Market
Since the passage of Proposition E in November 1999, Muni has been part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, a semi-independent city agency created by that ballot measure. The agency, which includes the Department of Parking and Traffic and the Parking Authority, is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Board of Supervisors.
Muni is often incorrectly written with all capital letters as MUNI, as if it were an acronym. Actually, it is short for Municipal. This is done both by members of the public and Muni employees. Possibly contributing to this confusion is their stylized, trademarked worm logo , which uses all capital letters.
"The Muni" (with the word the), in popular usage could mean the agency as a whole, or could refer to the Muni Metro. For example (overheard on a Muni bus), passenger to driver: "Does this bus go to the Muni?"
Some people use the term streetcar or trolley for cable car or vice versa. The terms actually have distinct meanings; if one asks a driver for directions to the trollies when one really wants a cable car, one may receive the wrong directions.
- Perles, Anthony, with John McKane, Tom Matoff, and Peter Straus, The People's Railway: The History of the Municipal Railway in San Francisco. Glendale: Interurban Press, 1981. ISBN 0-916274-42-4. A detailed, illustrated history of the San Francisco Municipal Railway from its inception through 1980. Currently out of print, but used copies are frequently available through booksellers specializing in transportation and railroads.
- SF Muni Web site
- Route map (837K PDF)
- 511.org SF Bay Area transit information
- Prototype easily scrollable Muni map; much easier to read
- NextBus for Muni, a GPS system that predicts arrival times for select routes (i.e. the light rails and the 22 bus line).
- pictures of Muni at nycsubway.org
- Rescue Muni
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