The smoky haze draping The City from Northern California’s fires prompted major subway delays Thursday morning, according to Muni.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said via Twitter that “air quality concerns” arising from the fires led to a boost in riders, which in turn led to delays throughout the Muni metro system.
“That was something our [customer information officer] had noticed from inferred rider complaints coming in [Thursday] morning,” SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato said. “[It was] not based on actual transit data he had access to.”
Average morning peak ridership on the Muni metro subway is about 40,000 riders, according to the SFMTA.
Subways were experiencing heavy congestion as of 9 a.m., according to the SFMTA alert system. A trip from the Sunset District to downtown San Francisco that usually would take 30 minutes, for instance, extended to nearly an hour Thursday morning, and riders flocked to social media to share their concerns.
“It took 50 minutes to get from Forest Hill to Van Ness,” wrote Twitter user @sfjackieo, who added “thanks for making me late to work yet again Muni.”
Twitter user Curtis Casella wrote, “Was stuck on the subway for an hour for a trip that should take 20 mins. This is unacceptable @sfmta_muni.”
Photos posted by other Twitter users showed a crowd of at least 100 people emptying out of an out of service train at Church Street this morning.
SFMTA apologized, and explained via Twitter, “All trains were out this AM. Air quality concerns increased ridership, adding extra time to all lines 4 boarding & alighting passengers.”
Twitter user Andrea Koskey replied, “70 minutes from Cole Valley to Montgomery seems excessive, though.”
The National Weather Service Bay Area advised via Twitter on Thursday that the “best chance for real improvement” on smoky conditions in the Bay Area won’t be until “Monday or Tuesday.” That may drive more commuters onto Muni through next week.