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  Edition # 2  
San Francisco, 03-17-1997

Public Transportation

Angelika Another curiosity is public transportation in San Francisco. The good news first: San Francisco has buses, street cars, and a subway. The underground is quite reliable meaning it runs on a schedule and is mostly on time. Buses and street cars only run on a rough schedule. Schedules on bus stops tell that buses come every ten minutes during the week but in reality you either wait for hours for a bus or a street car or there are two buses going the same route in short succession.

The street car is aching and choking and you might think it’ll break any minute or jump the rails. Since there are plenty of hills in San Francisco you need to pray to arrive safely. Even to go by bus is quite an adventure, because in contrast to other American drivers the busdrivers are pretty kamikaze and the buses often pass through poorer neighborhoods.

Those people who complain about the Munich public transportation system should really come to San Francisco. But if you wait at a bus stop here, there is at least one positive side effect: everybody complains about the buses and street cars being so late that you get in touch with total strangers easily to shorten the time to wait. At the weekend you should take reading material with you to pass the time waiting, because the subway as well as buses and trams run even more infrequently.

Despite these difficulties, we haven’t bought a car yet, but rely on public transportation because even driving a car in San Francisco is a challenge. You never find a parking spot or have to move parked cars to different spots when the street cleaners come by.

Whenever I’m fed up with waiting at a bus stop, I decide to walk. On a sunny day, the fantastic views of the city from the hilly roads really make up for the stress. If you go by car in San Francisco, there is another phenomenon. On wider streets with several lanes there are homeless people at the traffic lights, trying to "panhandle" for money on red lights.

Thanks to Boris Kleinbach, kleinbach@ymail.com for translating the original German text to English.

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