Riders want more space on new Metro trains


More than 8,700 riders responded to an online survey conducted by San Francisco’s transportation agency on how Muni’s future light rail vehicles should look like inside and outside.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency shared the preliminary results and recommendations of the survey last Friday, with riders favoring vehicles with wider aisles and more standing room.

Fifty-four percent of respondents preferred to have longitudinal seating — seats that face toward the middle of the vehicle — while 44 percent of respondents preferred transverse seating facing forward in the front of the vehicle and back toward the rear of the vehicle.

The transit agency said seniors and people with disabilities preferred the transverse seating arrangement. Muni riders who lived the furthest away from the center of The City also preferred the front and back facing seats.

The longitudinal seating will help get Muni riders on and off the vehicle more quickly and easier movement for wheelchair customers, said the SFMTA. It would also provide a chance for riders to bring their bikes onto Muni trains, pending approval from the SFMTA board.

More riders wanted vehicles to have more space and capacity, according to the survey. Nearly 40 percent of riders said they have a hard time getting on and off Muni’s current Breda vehicles and only 20 percent said there was enough space to stand.

About 49 percent of riders even said they would board a crowded vehicle event if it meant pushing and shoving to get in.

Inside the vehicle, there was no stand out choice of color schemes out of the standard (30 percent), black (29 percent) and red (28 percent) choices. Brown received the fewest votes with just 10 percent of riders favoring the color.

More than 49 percent of riders also ranked floor-to-ceiling poles as an interior feature that would make them feel safe while standing.

Muni riders preferred the Skyline No. 1 (49 percent) color scheme for the exterior of the vehicle.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said that the transit agency is working to make transit more reliable, safe and convenient for riders:

“Purchasing new vehicles is the single most significant thing we can do to improve service and achieve those goals. We thank Muni riders for participating in such an important survey that will help inform the design of our upcoming new light rail vehicles.”

The transit agency started surveying Muni riders in October after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the $1.2 million contract with Siemens Industry Inc., for the SFMTA to purchase up to 260 new light rail vehicles. The SFMTA approved the contract in July.

The survey was available online, but staff also conducted in-person surveys at rail stops and stations, the transit agency said.

Staff also provided outreach presentations to the transit agency’s Citizens Advisory Committee, Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Committee and the SFMTA’s Engineering, Safety & Maintenance Committee.

Operators will also get a chance to weigh in on the features of the new vehicles during a separate process.

Rose said consistent with the survey results, staff will recommend the longitudinal seating, standard interior color scheme and Skyline No. 1 exterior color scheme to the SFMTA board.

Muni riders can read the survey results on the SFMTA website.

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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