Saturday, December 5, 2009

Requiem for the 4-Sutter

MUNI, San Francisco's transit agency, has just had to make some very severe cutbacks and today it eliminated several bus routes. So I thought I would take a moment to say some words in honor of one of the dearly departed buses, my favorite bus in the whole city: the 4-Sutter.

I don't ride the 4 anymore; living in the Inner Sunset, my lifeline is the train, the N-Judah. But during my first four months in San Francisco, I lived on Sutter Street, and quickly discovered how the #4 could take me downtown in comfort and style.

Everyone knows about the California Street bus (three blocks north of Sutter); everyone knows about the Geary Street bus (two blocks south of Sutter); but the buses that run along Sutter itself seem to be the city's best-kept secret. Though part of their route goes through the Tenderloin, they are the cleanest, least smelly buses in town, and I can't once remember encountering loud or weird people on the #4.

So the 4-Sutter and its companion bus, the 2-Clement, felt like my little secret. Imagine, I had only just moved to San Francisco and I already had discovered one of its hidden gems! My delight only grew when, after a month, I got hired at an office downtown and discovered that the terminus of the 4-Sutter was right outside of my office building! After work, the 4 could take me all the way out to Green Apple Books for some browsing, and then back to my apartment on Sutter Street--the three most important places in my life, all on one bus line and for the price of a monthly MUNI pass. This was urban living at its finest.

(The 2-Clement, I should note, lives on, but it's not as good as the 4 because its route is longer, and therefore it gets more crowded. Also, some of the buses that run along it are the horrible newfangled kind with the uneven floors. It will take you to where the 4-Sutter went--which is the reason that MUNI has no remorse about eliminating the 4--but it won't be the same.)

San Francisco is a compact and not particularly scary city--if I had moved to New York I would have had some moments where I felt that the city was going to eat me alive, but I've never felt that way about S.F. All the same, it's never easy to move to a new city and learn to make your way around it, especially if you have led a largely suburban existence prior to that.

So, rest in peace, 4-Sutter Bus. You made life a little easier for a young woman just starting off in this glorious city, and for that, I will always be grateful.

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