Two years ago in Public Transit in L.A.: an older-but-wiser look back, I grumbled that I have seen graffiti in some San Francisco buses worse than I’d expect in a public bathroom on Venice beach. Those of you lucky enough to straphang in better governed cities might have thought I was exaggerating.
If only, if only! I snapped these gruesome shots on an inbound 14 in mid-June. I had only a 50 mm screwed onto my Nikon, which is why I must offer only close-ups of tagging and stickers you might be happier not to see at all. It would take a wide-angle lens to do the carnage justice.
To be fair: I have seen graffiti like this only in the rear portions of some 14s — and perhaps a 49 or two; I get the lines mixed up when traveling on Mission. I don’t remember seeing anything like this on the 8X, the 38, or other Muni bus lines. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention.
I spent over a decade getting around exclusively by transit in Los Angeles. I regularly rode buses in South L.A., the Pico Union, East L.A., Florence-Graham, Watts, and other neighborhoods where some might expect neglect. I am no fan of LACMTA, but can assure you that I never saw anything remotely like this on any Metro bus. Not even close.
A small, frustrated part of me wishes that a commercial photographer would snap a photo like this for an ad for a natural resource-devouring, climate warming SUV, and print it with a caption:
“What if we treated our customers like this?”
I will connect this post to Brothers of the Milky Way by noting that this is the same line that Hank steps off in a scene near the end of the novel. The 14 is one of San Francisco’s most heavily used lines, and trod Mission before and after changes implemented in Muni’s five year plan of the late 1970s and early 1980s.