A transit advocacy group wants to bring more smiles and positivity to Muni riders starting this week.
The San Francisco Transit Riders Union kicked off “Transit Week” on Monday at City Hall to of course celebrate all things Muni, including its riders and operators. The same group last year challenged city supervisors to ride Muni for 22 days and tasked them to take selfies while on the bus or train.
Members of the organization will make their way to different parts of The City at Muni bus and train stops from Sept. 13 to Sept. 17 passing out “I rode Muni” stickers and thank you cards for riders to sign and give to Muni operators as a show of appreciation.
Many supervisors who participated in the 22-day Muni challenge joined the San Francisco Transit Riders Union in kicking off “Transit Week.”
Thea Selby, chair of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, said the event this week is try to change the perception that people have of Muni by informing people how the transit system has improved over the years:
“We’ve started to make the service of Muni better, but people don’t really recognize it well. So we need to change the attitudes of people so that they’re more willing to take Muni as the service gets better because we are going to grow by 50,000 people in the next, could be in 10 years.”
Selby said the events are about an attitude shift toward the transit agency:
“We have a lot of people in San Francisco who simply are in their old attitude and for good reason. We’ve got to show them. We’ve got to prove to them, SFMTA needs to prove to them that they it’s worth it to change the attitudes.”
Supervisor Katy Tang said it was welcome change to celebrate Muni riders and operators this week:
“It’s really refreshing that we’re actually celebrating transit riders and the Muni operators who often really don’t get thanked for what they do for us.”
Tang represents District 4 in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, and said she knows how tough it is to live in the outer neighborhoods and taking public transit everyday:
“My message I think to most of the folks coming from some of the outer neighborhoods today is that you might not be able to ride transit everyday like I can’t, but we can make life self-choices where we can try to make a concerted effort to try to ride transit…”
The week-long will also celebrate Muni operators.
Supervisor David Campos, representing District 9, said being a Muni operator is probably one of the toughest jobs in San Francisco:
“Being a Muni operator I think is probably, arguably the hardest job in San Francisco because not only do you have to operate this massive vehicle,but you have to deal with a lot of people and a lot of challenges that come.”
Someone who knows all those challenges too well is Eric Williams, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents over 2,000 transit operators in The City. Williams said he appreciated the transit riders union for recognizing the hard work of the Muni operators:
“It means a lot to get an appreciation from the San Francisco Transit Riders Union to say hey, thank you for this job. It means a lot and you would only know if you ask these operators, these men and women who our out here everyday doing this work, how they feel.”
SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said he wanted Muni riders to think about the challenges operators face on a daily basis:
“Anytime you’re riding on the bus or even if you’re just near a bus and you see one go by, think about how challenging that job is, think about how many of them are doing it so well everyday despite the difficulty of the job.”