Details, Details

Welcome to Day 2 of our local’s peek at San Francisco. Did you know the City has not one, but two subway systems? The Municipal Railway, known more commonly as Muni, runs beneath and around city limits. The other, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, aka BART, connects surrounding suburbs to a main artery through downtown San Francisco and beyond. Anyone using contemporary San Francisco as a setting has to acknowledge the fact that it’s not an easy place to drive. We’re not quite Manhattan, in terms of congestion, but we’re pretty darned close. Muni is a way of life for locals thus it’s referenced in my novel on submission and plays a role in my current work-in-progress. No one would claim Muni rivals the subway systems of Europe or New York but it’s continuously improving. New lines are added all the time. New cars, too. And some special older cars. There are two 100% above-ground metro lines that celebrated their opening by interspersing historic street cars brought over from Italy. The cars were built in 1928 and they shudder and rumble in a way the modern cars don’t. They have quieter engines than the modern metro, though. Whether you’re a passenger or a passer-by, the dominant sound is metal-against-metal of wheels on the tracks, similar to a cable car. By the way, no local uses the word “trolley” in reference to city transportation. We have our iconic cable cars, we have street cars (the metro on above-ground routes), we have trains (the metro), and we have buses. “Trolley” is a verbal miscue that can either denote a tourist, or disrupt the authenticity of San Francisco as a setting. On the subject of words, another phrase to avoid, unless your character is a tourist, is “San Fran.” And if you say or write “Frisco,” well, you can show yourself out. I don’t often hear the word “subway” when folks talk about the San Francisco metro system. The word “Muni” is all you need to sound like a local. 

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