Mc Allen is good at talking to strangers. As a Muni driver, he has to be. But he does it in his personal life, too. Allen took on a project to read poetry aloud to strangers in San Francisco in 2004. Now he’s a poet himself, one with a whole series on Muni lines. And his performances come out—in his recitation of both poetry and line connections as we pull into the Salesforce Transit Center after circling Treasure Island on the 25 bus line.
“I find that reading to strangers is incredibly rewarding,” he said.
Mc Allen—his first name is pronounced “Mack”—rose to local fame in November 2021 when he tweeted about the iconic bus fight sequence from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings in scrupulous and comedic detail. He’s since cemented his following with hyperlocal quips about transit.
Originally from New Mexico, it took just one summer—and a whole bunch of rides on Muni with his two kids—to send Allen toward a career as a city bus driver. In 2018, inspired by two journalists’ “Total Muni” adventure, he and his two kids rode every transit line, end to end.
If Allen didn’t already love the system and the city, he was hooked then. The adventure showed him just how widespread Muni’s service is and the power of using bus transfers to unlock previously unexplored corners of the city.
“Literally everywhere in the city there’s something amazing happening,” Allen said.
So he decided to help make Muni better. Two years later, after a lengthy application and assignment process and Covid delays, he was called for service. Allen says the process was lengthy but worthwhile.
“During that time, my enthusiasm never waned,” Allen said.
As a driver, his favorite line is the 44-O’Shaughnessy, especially as it cruises effortlessly by Glen Canyon. But his favorite to ride is the 15-Bayview Hunters Point Express, which connects the southeast part of the city to Downtown via Allen’s own neighborhood, Dogpatch.
“The 15 does that, and it does it really well,” Allen said. “I glory in it every time I ride.”
Mc Allen’s words represent his personal opinions only, and do not represent official SFMTA policy or positions.
Photos by Camile Cohen / The Standard.
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From New Mexico to San Francisco, from poetry to transit, from parenthood to parenthood of teenagers.
Keep people movin’.