Know Your Nx Judah Express Bus – Photos of the Debut – But Mostly Empty, By Design – Getting a CultureBus Vibe

Well here it is, the debut of the Nx Judah Express, designed to whisk people to the fog-enshrouded West Bay, you know, to give a little more elbow room for the denizens of San Francisco Proper – the Inner Sunset and Cole Valley.

All right, Chapter I: Know Your Nx.

Anterior. Rather a bright bleu, non? Redolent of the bright orange-wrapped CultureBus one might think:

Click to expand

Lateral. Rather patriotic, redolent of the 1976-era bicentennial scheme:

Posterior. Rather less blue, but that solid-colored rectangle is your visual cue to start running for the Nx before the driver takes off.

I don’t see a bunch of people clamoring to get into these things just yet. We’ll see.

All right Chapter II: Empty by Design.

After the drivers drop off passengers way out there near La Playa or 47th Aveneue or whatever, they turn around and head back to the Financh empty.

What? Really. The plan is for the drivers to “dead-head” on back downtown sans passengers.

(Wonder if you could get on at the last stop outbound with the intent of coming into the Financial without any stops at all? That would be the Nx Judah Express to the Second Power, or something. But, they’d probably kick you off, so oh well.)

Like I say, this program reminds me of the failed CultureBus, which Nat Ford still hails as a success.

Obviously, you can’t have an N Judah streetcar run an express route on the same tracks as regular N Judah service. And obviously, the SFMTA just can’t add more N’s, for whatever reason. Oh well.

And in mitigation, MUNI’s not out there cheerleading for this saying how great an idea it is, you know, the way it happened with Gavin Newsom’s CultureBus. And, when I checked the Next MUNI today, those Nx’es looked verily like rabbits, easily outpacing the N Judahs that started at about the same time.

On Time Will Tell how bad this latest SFMTA program is…

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4 Responses to “Know Your Nx Judah Express Bus – Photos of the Debut – But Mostly Empty, By Design – Getting a CultureBus Vibe”

  1. Whit says:

    All of the express buses run the same way: pick people up inbound in the AM, then run back empty to the start of the line. Reverse in the PM: pick people up outbound in the PM, then return to the start of the line downtown. The Nx is no different.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Thx for your comment.

    This is news to me.

    Seems wasteful, no?

    The Culturebus did clockwise and anti-clockwise loops, for the record, but it wasn’t an express, of course.

    Can’t MUNI just run more N Judah’s?

    Not enough streetcar pilots? Not enough capacity?

    Too many crazy union work rules?

  3. Jacob says:

    “Can’t MUNI just run more N Judah’s?”

    As an outside observer, it seems like the problem is more breakdowns than anything else. If an Nx breaks down, other buses can go around it, while an N breakdown backs up the whole line.

  4. Alex says:

    The whole point of express buses is to provide service in one direction in a manner that serves a common pattern. In the morning that means people commuting from the sticks to downtown. Demand is simply lopsided that way. Take a look at how empty (comparatively) the outbound Ns (or any of the other rail lines) are in the morning.

    Then take a look at where the final inbound NX stop is. Right by Montgomery station, between Embarcadero (the busiest station) and Powell (the third busiest station). This way it provides nearly direct service for more people. If you need door to door service to a specific stop, that’s what the local routes are for. The general idea being that the extra block or two you’d spend walking to catch an express route would be mitigated by the time you’ll save taking the faster route.

    And thus picking up passengers on the trip back would simply slow it down and defeat the entire point. There’s less demand in the reverse commute direction thus an N streetcar should be less crowded and otherwise running faster than it would in the commute direction anyhow.

    And, no, you can’t simply run more N’s. There aren’t enough streetcars as is evidenced by the perpetual L shuttle buses and the daily service reports (available on the MTA’s web site). If you look at the reports there are often not enough streetcars available to meet the (grossly underestimated) projected demand. Additionally, despite what the Kommissar of Transit, John Haley, says there /is/ a capacity problem in the subway. The existing subway traffic backs up wickedly during commute hours (for any number of reasons). There’s also the huge bottleneck of the Duboce Portal to contend with. Running an N express bus bypasses all of that.

    What is utterly stupid is that in a more cost effective world, the MTA would run high capacity express service using the streetcars thus whisking more people more quickly to their destination… And save the lower capacity vehicles for (ideally) less used local service. Alas that’s not how the infrastructure is set up.

    What’s worse is that they’ve spent time and money branding these buses for no good reason.