Super­visors look to curb dreaded Muni switch­backs


The number of those dreaded Muni switchbacks are declining on the transit agency’s light-rail lines in the Sunset District. Riders are all too familiar with the L-Taraval and N-Judah turning around at Sunset Boulevard before arriving at the end of the terminals.

Newly appointed Supervisor Katy Tang, who has the L-Taraval and N-Judah travel in the Sunset District, said one of her priorities as supervisor is to reduce the number of turnarounds on those two train lines.

Muni’s policy of using switchbacks helps bring the light-rail lines back on schedule when there are delays such as traffic accidents or train malfunctions.

The SF Examiner reports that the N-Judah was turned around 45 times in January compared to 53 times the previous month. The L-Taraval recorded just six switchbacks in January.

Tang’s predecessor Carmen Chu was also not a fan of Muni switchbacks. Chu held several committee hearings on the issue after residents complained about operators not announcing the switchback until the very last-minute and waiting a long time for the next train to arrive.

The transit agency since then has said it has improved signage on the trains to show the final stop and making announcements on trains.

San Francisco’s civil grand jury last year called the switchbacks an inconvenience to riders and recommended Muni do away with them.

Despite the declines on the N-Judah and L-Taraval, the T-Third Street line saw a 152 percent increase in switchbacks from December to January.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose told the SF Examiner that the transit agency is working on reducing the number of switchbacks by investing in more maintenance into its transit vehicles to make them more reliable.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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