Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photoOne of the top criticisms that riders have about Muni is the cleanliness of buses and light-rail vehicles.

Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photoOne of the top criticisms that riders have about Muni is the cleanliness of buses and light-rail vehicles.

Report on Muni’s light-rail trains is latest bad news for agency

Muni’s light-rail trains, which collectively carry more than 150,000 passengers each day, posted an on-time performance rate of just under 50 percent in May, according to a recent report that is the latest of several pieces of disconcerting news about the transit agency.

Officials from the transit agency acknowledge the systemic problems, including aging trains and the rundown tracks, but say upcoming fixes may correct some of the issues.

On average, Muni’s light-rail vehicles break down once every 25 to 30 days, and the agency has few reserve vehicles to immediately put into service, according to John Haley, director of transit for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni. The 151 trains that comprise Muni’s light-rail fleet should have been completely overhauled about five to six years ago, but that never happened, which is why they’re so prone to breakdowns, Haley said.

Muni is scheduled to put out a bid next year for a new batch of light-rail vehicles, which could be in service between 2016 and 2017.

The run-down condition of the agency’s trackways also lead to slower train speeds. In addition, a large confluence of bottlenecks — such as the intersection at Fourth and King streets — results in numerous delays. Scheduling for the lines — which carry passengers at street level and below the ground — has not been updated for the current operating conditions, and the agency lacks enough supervisors to monitor performance, Haley said.

In the short term, before Muni receives its new light-rail trains, the agency plans a number of intermediary fixes, including adjusting its turnaround schedule at the Embarcadero station to improve on-time performance and hiring more supervisors and deploying them more efficiently along the system. It will also begin double-berthing — boarding two trains at the same time — at its downtown stations.

One of the solutions for light-rail problems not listed on Haley’s report is seat reconfiguration. Supervisors Scott Wiener and London Breed issued a letter to Muni Transportation Director Ed Reiskin on Friday, asking him to consider rearranging train seats for more capacity.

“By simply replacing forward facing seats with perimeter seats, similar to a New York City subway car, we can take a demonstrable step toward better vehicle capacity, and, hence, better service,” the letter to Reiskin said.

Haley said that the agency would “take a look” at that proposal.

Haley is scheduled to report on the light-rail lines’ performance Tuesday at a meeting of the transit agency’s board of directors.

The update follows a report released last week that showed Muni delays cost the local economy $50 million a year in lost productivity.

The light-rail lines make up this service include the J-Church, K-Ingleside, L-Taraval, M-Ocean View, N-Judah and T-Third Street.

Bay Area NewsLocalMuniSan Francisco Municipal Transportation AgencyTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read