A sign at Muni’s Powell Station directing people to use aboveground buses during a subway power outage on Friday, April 26, 2019. (Ellie Doyen/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Update: Muni subway service restored in time for end of Giants game

Train lines disrupted for more than twelve hours by power failure

Update 4/26 8:55 p.m.: Muni’s day of disarray is over: Subway service resumed in both directions as of 7:40 p.m.

A downed subway power line ground Muni’s metro system to a halt Friday morning, starting early, at roughly 6:40 a.m.

Although the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency restored Muni service Friday night, the agency warned there would be “residual delays” it would attempt to “balance.”

The service restoration came just in time for the end of the San Francisco Giants game versus the New York Yankees, where roughly 17,000 attendees were expected to use public transit to head home, according to the Giants.

Muni also restored outbound service only at roughly 5 p.m., aiding the evening commute

The morning commute for roughly 80,000 riders was shot when the metro went out of service, leading to crowds of hundreds of Muni riders waiting for bus shuttles, ride hails like Uber and Lyft and other forms of transportation. Witnesses even reported one verbal fight over the “last” Ford GoBike in a bikeshare station.

City officials agreed: It was a rough day for Muni, and its 700,000 daily riders.

Update 4/26 5:34 p.m.: Outbound Muni metro service has partially resumed for the evening commute.

At roughly 5:30 p.m. the agency announced trains will run from downtown to West Portal Station for the K, L and M lines, but will still use bus shuttles to substitute inbound train service. Riders must board on the inbound platform to head outbound to the outlying city, however, the opposite of their usual commute.

BART will provide “mutual aid” (free rides) to stranded Muni riders until 6 p.m.

The transportation mess won’t just impact the evening commute, but the expected 35,000 or so attendees of Friday night’s 7:15 p.n. San Francisco Giants game at Oracle Park.

Shana Daum, a Giants spokesperson, said roughly half of their attendees usually arrive by public transit.

The ballpark has emphasized sustainable modes of transportation over driving “since day one,” Daum said.

“We’re the most transit-accessible ballpark in the country,” Daum said.

The Giants sent transit alerts to its attendees and roughly 1,000 employees to warn them of the Muni service outages.

“Game-day staff, Muni Metro service through the Market Street tunnel has been down for much of Friday,” the Giants wrote to their staff. “Muni hopes to restore service via the N or T trains by 4 p.m., but we know that is after many staff need to travel to Oracle Park for this evening’s shifts.”

While metro service toward the ballpark is impacted, T-Third trains that serve Oracle Park are still running from Embarcadero station to the Bayview. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also recommends taking the 30-Stockton or 45-Union from Market Street to the ballpark.

Update 4/26 3:26 p.m.: Muni’s parent agency has blamed Friday’s subway outage — which spanned the whole morning commute and remained unresolved into the afternoon — on a lack of funding to keep the subway in good repair.

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency apologized to its riders in a blog posted sometime after 3 p.m.

However, the agency gave no indication whether service would be restored to Muni’s metro system, spanning the J, K, L, M, N and T lines and serving more than 160,000 daily riders, in time for the evening commute or the 7:15 p.m. San Francisco Giants game against the New York Yankees at Oracle Park.

“Infrastructure issues,” including the overhead power lines that failed and caused Friday’s busted commute, account for 49 percent of subway delays, an agency spokesperson wrote in the blog. That stems “from decades of underinvestment in ‘state of good repair’ projects.”

“These types of projects are necessary to keep the system working safely and at full capacity,” the blog said.

Muni’s most recent 20-year capital plan, written in 2017, outlines $21 billion in capital needs over the next 20 years, more than $8 billion of which is for infrastructure like subways and power lines.

This is not uncommon in transit agencies. BART’s extensive capital investment needs also extend into the billions. In 2016 Bay Area voters approved the $3.5 billion bond Measure RR to invest, in part, in BART maintenance and infrastructure.

The original story follows below:

A disruption in power in the subway has sent Friday morning’s Muni commute into chaos.

Muni’s Metro service downtown has suffered a power loss and has not been in service since roughly 6:40 a.m.

Unable to run at full speeds, Muni’s inbound K-Ingleside, L-Taraval and M-Ocean View trains were backed up in the tunnel Friday morning at West Portal Station.

The N-Judah was also partially out of service this morning.

Shuttle buses are running from Castro station to downtown, while some trains — fewer than usual — are still running from West Portal to the Castro.

Initially, 15 shuttles were planned for West Portal, but those buses were “called off” and rerouted to the Castro, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Twitter account.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of riders crowded at Muni stops throughout the system, posts on social media show.

From Castro Station to Market Street, West Portal and elsewhere, crowds swarmed the sidewalks as they awaited transportation alternatives.

The Muni metro train system collectively serves 162,000 riders’ trips daily. Many voiced their anger online.

“SEND ALL SHUTTLES! You literally have 100s of people at stops waiting. You should have had ALL of them ready for the rush,” wrote Twitter user ashbyrne33, whose commute was disrupted.

One of those stranded riders was State Senator Scott Wiener, a vocal public transit advocate. Friday morning, he tweeted a photo of himself waiting with a crowd of riders for a shuttle on Market Street. Once he got from his shuttle to BART, he texted the San Francisco Examiner comment on his truncated commute.

“After endless infrastructure work on the subway tunnel — work that deeply inconvenienced riders — it’s unclear to me why the subway keeps falling apart,” Wiener wrote. “But at least they have shuttles. And at least we have BART.”

The loss to Muni’s overhead power lines began early, at roughly 6:30 a.m., between Powell and Civic Center stations, according to SFMTA. Specifically, the overhead lines that provide power to Muni light rail vehicles became detached, causing a train to stall in the tunnel, said SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato. A “rescue train” was dispatched to pull the disabled train out of the tunnel and the lines are now being repaired, Kato said.

“We have ambassadors, station agents, transit fare inspectors and safety staff assisting customers,” Kato wrote in an email. “We also are updating our riders via social media, e-mail/text alerts, and overhead announcements.”

But some riders argued the problem has been known for a while.

“That power line has been faulty for days,” tweeted @steadicat. “You could tell by the power briefly going out on trains between the two stations. Why wasn’t this fixed sooner?”


This is a breaking news story, please check back for updates. This story has been updated to add comment from SFMTA and State Senator Scott Wiener. Below, a collection of social media comments from this morning’s commute:


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A large crowd waits for the 30 Stockton bus on Kearny St. on Friday, April 26, 2019 after Muni’s subway developed power issues. (Ellie Doyen/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Commuting crowds awaited shuttles at Castro Station after Muni subway service developed problems this morning. (Photo courtesy @reenanas via Twitter.)

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