Muni to seek approval for four-car subway trains


Muni subway service returned to normal this week after closures during weeknights and all day on weekends so transit officials could test new Muni trains.

With testing completed, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will complete modifications before officials hand over documentation to the California Public Utilities Commission later this fall for a safety certification, said SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato.

The CPUC will have nine days from when the transit agency submits its documents to either approve or deny the safety certification, said John Haley, SFMTA director of transit.

SFMTA officials and engineers from Siemens Industry, Inc., the manufacturer of Muni’s new trains, tested everything from noise and vibrations to safety, including the trains’ brakes.

Another important test was interaction with the automatic train control system, which allows the trains in the subway to run safely under computer control.

Last Friday, Haley gave an update to on the testing to three SFMTA board directors during a committee meeting. Haley said:

“We haven’t hit any showstoppers on anything that is a fatal flaw in the design of the vehicle or the system’s interrogation.”

Haley said there was one failed portal entry, which means the train did not connect with the automatic train control system at one of the subway entrances. Haley did not specify where the failed portal entry occurred.

Before the final weekend shutdown, Haley said the transit agency planned to test a three-car train.

The transit agency does eventually plan ask the CPUC to certify four-car trains, said Haley.

Haley said the transit agency has been in contact with the CPUC throughout the entire testing period.

When the transit agency turns in the documentation, Haley said they plan to include a notification to the CPUC that the transit agency plans to put the trains into service 21 days after the commission’s safety certification approval.

Transit officials plan to put a three-car N-Judah train in service first into service and followed by more Muni Metro shuttles. When more trains arrive, transit officials plan to implement a two-car T-Third and run the K-Ingleside separate from the T-Third.

The first five trains will go into service by the end of the fall, said Kato.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay and covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Follow Jerold on Twitter @jerold_chinn. Email tips to

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