There's at least one moment in every Muni rider's life when they think to themselves, "I could run a transit system better than this."
But here's the thing: They don't actually want to be responsible for Muni. Even San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Muni boss is the one spot in city government he'd never willingly take. "Of all the agencies, they have probably the toughest job in the city," he said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, "you've got thousands of people everyday depending on a perfectly working system."
Besides, Muni is over-regulated, under-funded, micro-managed, loaded with burdensome bureaucracy and run on an infrastructure that's inefficient, expensive and inherently resistant to change. Running the most frustratingly complex organization in the city is one thing, but doing it with people scrutinizing your every move, pouncing on your every mistake and cheering your ouster is entirely another.
What if you could try your hand at running Muni without the nagging fear of having some of your riders get fired for being late to their jobs after some drunken idiot drives his SUV into a tunnel and disrupts service all day?
That dream can now become a reality using the same method that millions of people around the globe have used for decades to kill dragons, go on crime sprees and clutter up all their friends' Facebook feeds with annoying Farmville posts.
Muni Diaries directs our attention to a video game by Stockholm-based publisher Paradox Interactive that puts players in charge of San Francisco's transit system from the safety and comfort of their very own homes. In the new "U.S. Cities" expansion pack for its popular Cities In Motion franchise, Paradox allows gamers to jump into a virtual San Francisco and design a transit network from the ground up.
Want to put light right on Geary? Position bus stops further than 15 feet apart? Fulfill every tourist's dream and make cable cars go all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge? You can do all those things!
Don't get too excited though -- all three reviews of the U.S. Cities expansion on Amazon said the game either doesn't work at all or noted it was so full of bugs that getting it to play was barely worth the effort.
Wow, its just like the real-life Muni. (Zing!)
Even so, since Muni buses cost around $12,000 on eBay and the game will only set you back about $5, Cities In Motion is likely the most cost-effective way to live out all your N-Judah wishes and L-Taraval dreams.
The game runs on both PC and Mac platforms and is available though Steam.