Muni, N-Judah to get back on track

Starting Saturday, passengers disembarking at the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets will be able to hop on Muni’s most popular metro train, the N-Judah, and take it to their next transfer point or final destination in San Francisco once again.

In conjunction with the full-time launch of the oft-criticized T-Third, the N-Judah stopped servicing the Caltrain station in April, turning around at Embarcadero station instead. The move infuriated riders, some of whom launched a petition calling for a town hall meeting with Muni directors.

As a result, Muni has decided to return N-Judah service to Fourth and King streets. Other changes that occurred when the T-Third began operating seven days a week will also be restored, including Castro metro shuttles and weekend service of the 10-Townsend bus route.

Additionally, the J-Church will stop servicing the Caltrain station and a new bus line, the 20-Columbus, will be introduced to partially fill the gap left by the elimination of the 15-Third bus, which used to carry 30,000 passengers between City College of San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf each weekday.

While only operating on weekdays for limited hours, the new 20-Columbus bus route will attempt to add service back to the northern part of The City, specifically for elderly residents of North Beach who said they were stranded after the 15-Third bus was canceled. The new line will travel from Van Ness Avenue and North Point Street to Beale and Howard streets.

To decide whether to rollback some changes, Muni officials conducted a detailed review of the new service as well as the existing infrastructure.

“I am committed to improving service systemwide to meet the needs of our customers,” said Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which carries 700,000 weekday riders on 1,000 buses, streetcars and trolleys.

Muni launched seven-day service of the T-Third on April 9. The $648 million rail line sent rippling effects throughout the system, leaving commuters stranded for up to 50 minutes and causing Muni directors to pull back the curtain on a system plagued by a systemwide shortage of drivers, overcrowded maintenance facilities and outdated equipment.

Eric Svetcov, a Mountain View resident who started an online petition against the service changes, said he plans to take a wait-and-see approach to the new service, but is optimistic that it will improve safety and travel time.

Before the T-Third, many Caltrain commuters from the Peninsula transferred to a two-car N-Judah train, however, they have since been forced to use T-Third or J-Church trains, which board at two separate platforms. Svetcov said people have been risking their lives by running between the T-Third and J-Church platforms, which are separated by about five lanes of traffic, to catch whichever train arrives first.

Muni route changes

Muni will roll back some of the transit changes made when the T-Third began carrying weekday commuters, which angered riders and caused gaps in service.

METRO SERVICE

» N-Judah line will service Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets.

» J-Church line will no longer service Caltrain station, turning around at Embarcadero station.

» K-Ingleside line will become the T-Third inbound at West Portal station.

» T-Third line will become the K-Ingleside line outbound at Embarcadero station

BUS SERVICE

» 20-Columbus will travel from Van Ness Avenue and North Point street to Beale and Howard streets. Inbound from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Outbound from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

» 10-Townsend will begin operating on weekends.

arocha@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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