Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy B-day Muni!

The Market Street Railway blog has the story. 96 years ago today then-Mayor James "Sunny Jim" Rolph personally operated the first run along the A-Geary line. The story of how San Francisco's first publicly-owned streetcar line came to be, and the deliberate collapse of it and the rest of the system half a century later is well worth a read. The Transbay Blog also has an excellent history.

There are many of us who would like to see the return of this kind of infrastructure investment. A renewed dedication to our publicly-owned mass transit system. San Francisco is a rare city in the US because it is possible to live here without owning or ever using a car. But those of us who do live our car-free lives here can't help but feel the strain of a piecemeal transportation system that routinely takes second banana to private auto traffic on our city streets.

Fortunately this region has no share of amateur visionaries who have put together their dream maps of public transportation in SF and the Bay Area:

Transbay Blog

SF Cityscape
The Overhead Wire

I've got my own ideas, which I'll get around to illustrating as beautifully as these someday. The Overhead Wire describes the benefit of these fantasy maps very well:

Why do I love fantasy transit network maps? Because unlike bus and automobile, it inspires people to think big and imagine. I think we could use some imagination these days. I've always believed it was good for you.

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