Ah Muni. A friend when it comes on time, our greatest foe when it’s nowhere to be found. Anyone who’s ever been on Muni has a story to tell, and those of us that use it as our regular transportation are part of the “bus community.” Eugenia Chien and Jeff Hunt created the website Muni Diaries after presenting the idea for a school project. The site went from a place where a few people were sharing their Muni tales to packing The Makeout Room with live events.

SCOUT: Explain how the site come out of a school project?
EUGENIA: In 2004, Jeff and I were in a class together at S.F. State and we had an assignment to create a magazine. I was riding the 28 to school at the time, and just about every day something would happen. As part of the magazine project, we came up with the idea of a ‘letters to the editor’ space where you could share your Muni stories. A few years later, blogging was huge, so we started up a website.
JEFF: The idea behind this was that it was one place for everyone to talk about it. We wanted to “blow up the party talk.”

SCOUT: Did it take long for people to learn about the site and start sharing their stories?
MUNI DIARIES: For the first six months, it was a lot of our own contributions and our friends’ submissions. The first few times we had brand new submitters we were so excited.

SCOUT: Was there a turning point when things really took off?
JEFF: {laughing} I bet we have different answers, so I’ll go first. I'd say it was the fight on the bus in Chinatown in October of 2009. We were the first to post it with a translation, and I think that helped people understand the situation better. Visits to the site shot up, and our average page views increased after that.
EUGENIA: I do have a different answer! I would say the first time I realized Muni Diaries was becoming something was at our first live event. It was one of those instances where you invite a bunch of people to the party, but you’re still worried no one will show up. Well, a ton of people showed up and had a great time, and that was when I saw the site really meant something.

SCOUT: What are some of your favorite Muni stories?
MUNI DIARIES: We like the positive, heartwarming stories that highlight the “bus community.” One that comes to mind is the story of the 33 Stanyan driver Tammy. She was transferring to the 24 Divisadero, and decorated her bus to show her appreciation for her regular 33 passengers that she wouldn’t be seeing as often. It was a really incredible story.

SCOUT: Besides the live event tomorrow, what’s up next for Muni Diaries?
MUNI DIARIES: The Muni system is almost a hundred years old, and in that time, it’s created so much history. We’re working to capture that through Muni Time Capsule. We’re trying to collect stories on film from people who’ve been riding Muni their whole lives. We also recently got a donation from a guy who’s been collecting Muni’s fare and information fliers for the past few decades. We want to scan them and put them up on the site for other people to see. We’d love for it to become a sort of digital museum of Muni.

SCOUT: Ok, here it is: Shameless Plug Time...
MUNI DIARIES: Be sure to check out Muni Diaries, we’re also on Twitter and please come to the live event at the Make-Out Room tomorrow night!

Photo of Eugenia and Jeff at the first Muni Diaries Live event compliments of The Tenderblog.