By Alexa Bautista
From the Sunset to Bayview, the Muni 29-Sunset Line is infamous for having many passengers from different schools along its route such as Lowell High School, San Francisco State, and City College. The 29-Sunset is the longest daytime route at 17.4 miles, and with an estimated 20,000 daily riders the bus is often plagued by delays and overcrowding.
On several occasions, the 29 bus comes in quickly to pick up all the passengers waiting at a stop, yet other times it is late, leaving many passengers waiting for almost an hour. In addition, due to overcrowding, it sometimes skips stops, leaving passengers waiting for the next bus to pick them up. As a result, many commuters choose to take an Uber or Lyft to their destination.
City College students who take the 29 line experience these problems often and consequently attend class late. Ocean Campus student Jack Placios said he thinks scheduling is the main problem with the 29 bus.
“For the most part, the 29 is a smooth ride,” Placios said. “The major issues are when you get two to three buses back to back and the second bus is halfway full and the third bus is just an empty wagon. The other frustrating problem is when you get an incredibly packed bus and it just skips six stops in a row because there is no other alternative. The actual ride itself is completely fine even in a congested bus we find a way to be okay with things, it’s mostly scheduling.”
Other City College students such as Max Ejima have encountered what the 29 bus was like during one of its busiest times, around 1 to 2 p.m. when many students from City College are finishing their classes to attend work.
“It gets way too crowded during one to two, and I have had experiences with the bus skipping my stop once or twice. I would be late to school because of it. I would wish for the bus to come every ten minutes rather than fifteen to twenty minutes.”
By using the hashtag #fixour29, Lowell High School students are taking action and using their voices to share their experiences with Muni and the general public on their Instagram page, “students.change29.” Their posts include videos of students rushing towards the 29 despite it being overcrowded, pictures inside the 29, and anonymous DM’s of students’ struggle with their commute to and from school.
For instance, many students complain that the 29 for skips their stops too frequently. One anonymous DM describes their alternative way to get to school.
“I usually try to avoid taking the 29 to school in the morning because often times it’ll pass by my stop without warning very often. For this reason, I now try to walk or bike to school if I can’t get a ride. My parents helped me report to Muni one incident where three or four buses passed by on a Monday morning.”
The students’ Instagram campaign is not the only attempt to influence Muni’s operations. Another is the South of Market Community Action Network’s (SOMCAN) campaign, called #freemuni4all, which has advocated for more improvements such as more busses, accessibility, and opposition to Muni’s high fares. Since 2000, SOMCAN has reached out to low-income youth and families in San Francisco, and has addressed gentrification, displacement issues, and human rights.
SOMCAN workforce counselor PJ Eugenio, encouraged everyone to join their campaign in order for SFMTA to make changes according to everyone’s needs.
“Muni won’t do anything unless we tell them what we want because they’re so used to making decisions within themselves. Now with our campaign making noise, they’re worried about it.” Eugenio said. “We need more people like low-income families, lower class families, high school students like Lowell and City College students that ride the Muni and need protection. At the end of the day, those are the ones that are going to be affected.”
With the continuous feedback from advocates, Muni has created the Muni 29 Sunset Line Project to continue their efforts to create a better experience for daily passengers. Since Fall 2019, Muni has been getting public feedback from several stakeholders including the San Francisco Youth Commission in order to implement improvements. The predicted date of completion for these improvements is Fall 2021.