Muni open to systemwide remedies

A month after Muni’s T-Third metro line began operating seven days a week, officials are considering reinstating some transit services that caused disjointed commutes and angered riders.

Muni officials said the changes — which included eliminating the 15-Third bus route and shortening the N-Judah metro line — are on the table for possible reversal. Muni staff members will decide which changes, if any, to reverse today and present a proposal to Municipal Transportation Authority Executive Director Nathaniel Ford Thursday.

“We’re looking at everything that we had before and where we are now to see where there may be gaps in service,” Muni Chief Operating Officer Kenneth McDonald said.

Muni, which carries 700,000 weekday riders on 1,000 buses, streetcars and trolleys, has been struggling to mend its services since the $648 million T-Third line began weekday operation April 9. The launch of the T-Third caused systemwide delays of up to 50 minutes on rail lines and sent ripple effects throughout the system, as four bus routes and two metro lines were altered.

Specifically, the 15-Third bus route that had been in service since 1940, carrying nearly 30,000 passengers between City College of San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf each weekday, was eliminated. The N-Judah stopped servicing the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets and began turning around at Embarcadero station instead.

Additionally, the 10-Townsend, 54-Felton and 9-San Bruno Express bus routes were altered, as well as the J-Church metro line.

The changes caused a fervor among riders. Some said commute times doubled or tripled because they were forced to transfer more often, while others said they simply could not go where they needed to after buses were altered or canceled.

“There should have been a transition period where the 15-Third ran for even a month or two after the T-Third was introduced,” said Ray Lew, who lives on Telegraph Hill and used to ride the 15-Third.

Since the changes were made, McDonald said there have been high levels of customer complaints, but officials are willing to do what it takes to reduce the number of disgruntled riders.

Some commuters who use the N-Judah have been frustrated by changes to the route. Instead of riding the same train to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets, they have to transfer at Embarcadero station to a T-Third or J-Church train, sometimes missing connections to the Peninsula.

“The promise that was made was that having the N-Judah terminate at Embarcadero would make it faster heading back out to the Sunset,” said Greg Dewar, who writes the N-Judah Chronicles blog. “The exact opposite has happened. It’s much, much worse. The trains bunch up in one place.”

Ford, however, has ensured that all options are being explored with a focus on quality customer service.

“No stone will be left unturned in our goal to provide optimal service delivery,” he said Tuesday.

arocha@examiner.com

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