Today’s Headlines

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  • david vartanoff

    Somehow, the pressure hasn’t made any difference for decades. Anyone trying to schedule the 5 routes through the track puzzle and provide the frequencies promised on Muni’s website would easily conclude it is nearly impossible even if train operators actually tried.
    Genuinely radical measures are called for–4 car Embarcadero to WP shuttles, splitting to 2 cars each K and M, L shuttles WP to the Zoo, Operator ‘runs’ need to become work as assigned from time on duty to time off–no choice of route.
    Critical also is forcing the autos off the tracks–no compromise–and full traffic signal priority.

  • Agreed on most points. WP and FH can’t support 4-car train sets and expanding the stations would be cost prohibitive. Run 3-car train set shuttles during peak between WP and Embarcadero/Caltrain. Keep K/L/M on the surface during peak and act as feeder lines to the subway (combine the L/M between the zoo and Balboa Park; K between 22nd/Taraval and Balboa Park). Turn the J around at Church/Duboce (riders can easily transfer to the subway at either Church/Market or the N-Judah at Duboce). Yes, I realize this requires many folks outside of the subway area to transfer trains, but having fewer, but longer, trains running in the tunnel during peak hours would reduce congestion and provide more surface service as more lines reverse course sooner along their respective routes. It can also encourage quasi real-time schedules in the tunnel, at least for the shuttle.

  • As for removing autos from the tracks…unfortunately, most of our surface routes aren’t in dedicated ROWs. Sharing the road with cars/trucks is unavoidable in many sections, especially the more narrow side streets where there is only one lane in each direction. This is one of the problems of having surface rail instead of buses.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Except for the labor issues, these things could all be completed in 90 days by a minimally competent bureaucracy.

  • 90 days? T-line’s been operating for 12 years now and still no traffic signal priority. The operative word here is “priority” which eludes the SFMTA in any of its decisions or implementations.

    “Minimally competent bureaucracy”…we should be so lucky.

  • Shared track bed aside, what you proposed isn’t radical by any stretch of the definition. These shouldn’t even be considered solutions. They should have been implemented on Day 1. Even the shared track bed should have been dealt with more effectively like not running trains on narrow side streets, undergrounding where feasible, providing dedicated ROW whenever possible, etc.

  • mx

    Even the basic stuff could be implemented overnight. Like the plan to speed up turnarounds at Embarcadero has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Anyone who spends even a few minutes standing on the platform there knows that the operation usually moves at a lackadaisical pace, even when there’s a dozen trains backed up in the tunnel. Put supervisors at the terminal and tell everyone to move as quickly as it’s safely possible. Make sure that operators are standing by in position, so there’s not a long delay while they walk to/from trains.

    None of this is rocket science, and I’d sincerely hope there’s nothing in the contract that prohibits management from seeking to ensure everyone works in an expeditious fashion.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    The way the turnaround operators stand around gladhanding and slacking off while ten thousand riders wait for their turn is infuriating. They should just air tapes of that on local TV ads during the next operator strike.

  • mx

    I mean, it’s a hard job and operators should get every minute of their breaks. But it’s up to management to put the systems in place to ensure everything moves quickly, and anyone who has casual experience boarding at Embarcadero knows that’s not the case. There’s nothing difficult about a supervisor saying “hey Jim, please stand here by where the train will stop so you’re ready to go.”

    And there is a perception issue. In-N-Out has open kitchens, so even though there’s a wait, you see everyone working super hard and recognize it’s moving as fast as possible. Some delays are inherent in the way Muni’s infrastructure is built, but people will be slightly more tolerant of them if they see the work that goes into getting stuff done efficiently.