letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Muni Needs to Build Safe Streetcar Platforms


Its time for a paradigm shift about what is considered a newnormal out here in the Outer Sunset.

Muni N Line Also Stops in Jurassic Park


Sometimes I think Muni views the Outer Sunset community (defined roughly as Ninth Avenue to Ocean Beach) as the lost world of velaraptors asnd triiceratops, … a lost and forgotten world similar to visiting “Jurassic Park.”

My young, super-smart wife recently was riding the N-Judah light rail streetcar. She stepped off at 31st Avenue and Judah Street … off one of those new Siemens LRV 4-class light rail vehicles, directly to her pootentially immediate death. When she came home she said “You have got to save us.” I looked at her face in absoute disbelief.

You see, the doors open and stairs invite you to an open street where she was nearly flattened by a non-observant passing Toyota. That means DEAD. I have seen people like her experience this near-miss condition over and over again – It has happened to me, too – Why?

SF Muni has considered safe design an afterthought out here for more than 100 years! We do not even exist. Our citizens are nothing more than livestock – cows and animals.

We can paint more white lines only on the street for 105 years. That is it folks. Nothing at all. This is a total disgrace to all human life, we think.

My small concrete tombstone design station, a “boarding island,” is designed for nothing more than death. No sane person would conceive or use such a thing – ever. period.

Trouble is, it has been used for most of its life as a stop for stagecoaches and donkey carts. Sounds like the 19th century to me. This is not a 21st century design by any means. Stations must match the full length of the trains and be separated and elevated from all traffic. Most of the normal world works like this.

A station is a gateway to the economic and cultural  life of the community. A train station for most of the world is seen as a “Welcome Sign.” No signs here – nothing at all. It is a completely anonymous disgrace. Yet making long-overdue fundamental changes and life-saving improvements seems totally taboo to our local city representatives.

These  conditions, we observe, are also a form of economic and racial discrimination. Rosa Parks sat at the back of the bus saying her life was of equal value to those sitting in the front of the  bus. We here in the Outer Sunset no longer wish to sit at the back of ths bus anymore. Those days of economic and racial discrimination must end at Muni. All paasengers deserve a safe and equal ride experience, regardless of where they reside.

Yes, Muni knows how to do great station design and create perfectly safe conditions that accommodate everyone, including children, the elderly, the physically handicapped veterans and those who need to use wheel chairs.

Just look at the new station created for the Golden State Warriors at  UCSF/Chase Center. Its a complete wonder and built in only three months. Most of the stations in SOMA (which, until recently, were virtually unused) are like this – long platforms, elevated, well lighted, with curved, colorful roofs and benches to sit on, information signage and communications relays of all sorts.

Why there and never at all here? Ever?

Meanwhile the dust gathers out here in the Outer Sunset. No investments made at all by Muni. It remains a game of Russian Roulette entering and exiting a light rail vehicle. This should never have been considered the “new normal.” We see this situation as completely unacceptable. The comunity must have stations designed to fully accomodate its current users and future growth needs.

Young people coming back from the Outside Lands Festival or the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass event use the N-Judah light rail by the hundreds of thousands. They should not be arriving or waiting to return with their legs folded in a Yoga position, waiting to get their legs amputated because there is no place for them to wait comfortably for the next train.

For a city which is the world’s “beacon of the future and technolgy innovator” … an investment must be made now. Most of us are a part of the normal “right-side-up wold” but this condition of no proper station is truly an “upside down world” condition.

We must show that we value all human life and move into a brighter future for all who use this system.

If you want to join me in finding a solution to this safety problem, please email me at johnpaar1@gmail.com.

John and Viktoriya Paar
Outer Sunset

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