Off the Road Again: Five Muni Buses Conk out en Route from the Factory in Just One Week

Blake Ritterman, the drummer for the San Francisco band Posole, was napping in his group's 1993 Ford Econoline when he awoke on Oct. 17 to see a Muni bus running alongside. What was unusual was that they were driving in Wyoming.

"We wait for Muni all the time," says Ritterman, whose photograph of the bus went viral. Seeing one in Wyoming "was hilarious."

It was less hilarious when five Muni buses driving between the New Flyer plant in St. Cloud, Minn., and San Francisco broke down in just a weeklong span in mid-October. Those hybrid buses run a cool $750,000 a pop.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose confirmed the rash of breakdowns, but noted that Muni considers the drive from Minnesota part of a "road test" for new vehicles. A cluster of prodigiously expensive, brand-new buses flunking that test is distressing, however. Neal Popp, Muni's chief mechanical officer, was dispatched to the New Flyer plant. Popp declined to speak with SF Weekly, and Rose says his presence there was a routine matter, the timing of which was purely coincidental.

Posole showed up in San Francisco for a show last week — even if a fleet of its fellow travelers did not.

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Real quality buses for a real scummy city

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