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Bart

San Francisco Light Rail Train

San Francisco Muni Train - home of Veronica the sexy Muni Lady

I have a serious confession to make..

I have a torrid crush on The Muni Lady.

Yes, I said “torrid.”

Muni is the public transit system here in San Francisco. It’s short for “San Francisco Municipal Railway,” which is what they call it despite the fact that they run buses too, which aren’t on rails.

The name has stuck around since the old days when pretty much everything was on rails, including cable cars and horse-drawn street cars. They still have the cable cars for nostalgia’s sake, but thankfully the horse-drawn cars are a thing of the past because horses tend to take a dump on the street, and sometimes your shoes if you don’t get out of the way fast enough.

By the way, did you know that our famed Golden Gate Park here in San Francisco is built almost entirely on horse poo?

It’s true!

Back when horse-drawn streetcars were plentiful the city needed a place to put all the horse poo they shoveled off the street everyday, so they carted it off in wagons to these sand dunes out by the ocean.

This went on for decades, so plenty of horse poo piled up, which must have been quite pleasant for residents of that area.

Then, right around the time mechanization started to put horses out of a job, someone came up with the idea of having a huge park much like New York’s Central Park, then someone else said, “Hey, those horse poo covered sand dunes out by the ocean would make a great park because we have decades worth of built-in fertilizer!”

This has nothing to do with The Muni Lady of course, because she wasn’t born yet when they made Golden Gate Park. Heck, I wasn’t even born yet. But the fact that our park is made out of horse poo is almost as fascinating as the fact that most of the downtown district is built on top of the remnants of old sailing ships.

It’s true!

But I digress, so let’s get back to my crush; the sultry, sexy Muni Lady.

Her name is Veronica, which may or may not be accurate, but nobody really knows her name so that’s what I call her.

This is what she looks like..

Veronica

Veronica, the sexy, sultry Muni Lady

This too may or may not be accurate, because nobody knows what she looks like, so this is what I like to think she looks like.

Veronica, you see, is THE VOICE OF MUNI and, if you’ve ridden on any of Muni’s vehicles, you’ve heard her sweet, sexy “celestial melody” (Longfellow) call out the stops and other information.

“How sweetly sounds the voice of a good woman.” – Massinger

San Francisco Cable Car

San Francisco Cable Car - sadly sans Veronica

The only exception is the cable cars because the city wants to keep them all nostalgic and, as I already said, Veronica hadn’t been born yet in 1905, so the cable car operators take care of that task as they ring their little bell and belt out..

“Montgomery, next stop! MONTGOMEREEEEE!!!”

But Veronica is much more pleasant to listen to, primarily on the Muni Light-Rail Trains. Her hypnotically melodic tone reverberates throughout the station while one is waiting on the platform, and then she can be heard INSIDE the train once one boards!

This is awesomeness, because I just can’t get enough of her. I wish I could record her and put an audio file on here for you.

When she says things like..

“Outbound.. two car.. N.. in four minutes. Followed by.. one car.. K.. in six minutes.”

..I get goosebumps.

Then, when I’m on the train and speeding through the dark, scary tunnels, she provides words of warmth and comfort..

“Next stop.. Forest Hill Station.”

MORE goosebumps!

On certain days after having zipped through the multitude of downtown stations, I have to change my underwear after getting home.

It doesn’t end there, either. She’s on all the buses!

I’m telling you, this broad really gets around.

San Francisco City Bus

San Francisco City Bus with Veronica aboard

When I’m on a city bus I hear my sweet siren call out the street name of each stop as we approach it..

“Lombard Street.”

*swoon*

I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be married to such a wonderful gal. It’d be absolute heaven to come home after having slaved over a hot netbook at a wifi cafe all day to hear..

“Dinner..  lamb shanks in pomegranate sauce with garlic mashed potatoes.. in ten minutes.. followed by.. Crème brûlée and espresso.. in thirty minutes.”

*swoon*

*drool*

We have another transit system that runs through San Francisco called BART, which is an unfortunate acronym for “Bay Area Rapid Transit.” Bart consists only of trains — really long, fast ones — which run in a straight line under the city as they speed along on their way to outlying areas including cities on the other side of the bay, which means they go through a long underwater tunnel.

So, in that sense, they’re not really competition to Muni, although one has a choice of taking a Muni train or BART train if one is going from, say, Balboa Station to any of the four downtown stations.

Personally I opt for the Muni train because of Veronica, as you might have guessed. Even though BART is about twice as fast.

BART Train

An ugly-ass BART TRAIN sans Veronica and bells

This is because BART doesn’t use Veronica’s voice to announce the train arrivals, sadly enough. BART uses a synthesized male voice that I have cleverly dubbed “Bart” and he sounds like one of those voice boxes people who can’t speak use to talk.

Actually, there are two Bart voices — one for the outbound trains and one for the inbound — and they both are synthesized male voices but one is just an octave lower than the other to (I’m guessing) differentiate.

The higher one will say..

“Next train.. nine car.. Richmond.. in five minutes.”

Then the lower one will say..

“Approaching.. five car train for Daly City.”

..and it’s all rather boring.

When you’re inside the BART train, the driver announces the upcoming station on the public address system..

“Folks, we have the Embarcadero Station coming up, all out for THE EMBARCADERO!”

So at least that adds a little flair to it and it’s better than the synthetic voices, but the BART drivers don’t even get a little bell to ring like the cable car drivers do, so I’ll take VERONICA over the whole lot of them anytime.

But alas, I know as well as you do that things are seldom as they seem, which means that Veronica probably looks like this..

Lady in Walmart

Veronica, aka Matilda the sexy, sultry Muni Lady, in Walmart

And her real name is probably Matilda (no offense Matilda, if you’re reading this) and she probably doesn’t even live in San Francisco. She’s probably a professional voice-over person who lives in New York or Los Angeles, neither of which has a park made out of horse poo.

I have nothing to back up that last statement though. They might have horse poo parks too, so please comment and let me know if you live in either city and can vouch that they have horse poo parks.

But when it comes to the likes of Veronica, a man can dream, can’t he? Especially when he’s on the train platform, waiting for the N-Judah..

“Approaching.. two car.. N.. destination.. pure audio bliss..”

*swoon*

A BART train approximately a mile long approaches Balboa Station, and the synthetic announcer makes synthetic announcements while the train swallows a college girl and some other people before whooshing off at high-speed to Fremont..

As a San Francisco Muni train approaches, you can hear Veronica make a few announcements starting at 0:25. Oddly enough, she didn’t announce the stations while inside the train in this 2008 video — she does nowadays though. In this video you can hear her again at 7:40.

Ride along for the whole video if you want to take a trip Rhodester and coffeesister take rather often..

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