Saturday, December 29, 2012

Muni's 100th Anniversary

Yesterday morning I was half asleep when the radio announced that SF Muni  was giving free rides on their transit system all day to commemorate its 100-year anniversary. A couple of years back, when the Bay Area had a bit more money, we had free transit days courtesy of Spare the Air Day. I'd always wanted to sample as many public transit systems on those "free" days but never managed to time things right. This time, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to ride Muni free...at least for half a day. I left home at 9:40 am and walked down the hill to catch the J Church in-bound. The wait was only five minutes so. The familiar light rail came around the corner and I jumped on. The driver delighted in informing passengers that today the ride was free. Most of the passengers thanked him, but one couple didn't seem to get it. Even though the farebox was taped shut, the man tried to pay their fare.

I'd forgotten how beautiful the route was, particularly the narrow stretch before arriving at Dolores Park. It was a chilly day and there weren't a lot of people in the park but a young family got off, determined to picnic on the grass. I had originally intended to take the Church to Powell, then switch to the cable car, but I remembered that the historic F trollies intersected this route at Market. So I got off at Market and Church. After a short wait, car #1818 picked me up. This particular streetcar is called the Peter Witt, and was manufactured in Milan. The benches and floor were beautifully restored wood, and the windows were plentiful for a look outside. It was also decked for Christmas inside and out.



We went straight along Market Street, then, turned left towards the Embarcadero. We passed all the piers, including the ferry building and the pier where America's Cup is housed. I got off near Pier 46 to check out the Musee Mechanique. Where I enjoyed about $2.00 worth of mechanical toys and fortune telling.


After playing the mechanical toys, I had a (not very good) crab cocktail, and walked a few blocks to the cable cars. A long line of people, as usual, but actually it was because one of the cable cars had a hard time turning around. After that got fixed, we moved pretty quickly. By luck of the draw, I got a cable car all decked in Christmas wreathes. I sat in one of the outside seats and got a great view of my city.
By the time I made it back to Union Square, it was 1:00 pm. I caught the 38 Geary that took me to Japantown, where Michael was waiting for me to have a late lunch. J-Town was full of people, but we managed to get into Tampopo for ramen and gyoza. Even after New Year's food shopping, I got home in time to get several hours of work done for WCA. It was such a fun day of free rides. Thanks Muni!