Sunday, June 15, 2008



Not the fact that Muni Metro had an accident with itself (SFGate story). We’ve come to expect such. And with current operator-contract negotiations stalled we might expect more such.

We keep reading about Muni deploying exotic rolling-stock (ancient restored streetcars, double decker buses) all in an effort to support and cement San Francisco's role as a tourist town.

The problem with Muni is poor human performance, not boring buses. Muni management knows how to spend money on rolling stock, but they don’t know how to manage human performance.

One problem is that the performance standards for other City employees are so low that Muni drivers feel singled-out. So that part is intractable.

Not intractable are English-usage errors. With the Chronicle downsizing and all, you’d think they'd have a few competent copy editors eager to keep their jobs. Yet we get this (emphasis mine):

At 2:03 p.m., a westbound one-car T-Third train rear-ended a two-car N-Judah train, which had stopped at a light on King Street between Third and Fourth streets.

Let me shout to the world: there is no such thing as a “one-car train.” A single car is a single car. You don’t get a “train” until two or more cars are coupled together. Sheesh!

Webster's Online:

Main Entry: train
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from trainer to draw, drag

7 a: a connected line of railroad cars with or without a locomotive

And stating the fact correctly wouldn’t have been that difficult, like:

At 2:03 p.m., a single westbound T-Third streetcar rear-ended a two-car N-Judah train…

I guess the editors figure that anything that rolls on tracks is a train, regardless of the number of cars.

So this would be called a “one-car train”:

Or this:

Or this:

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