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T-Third switchbacks halted in move toward improved service

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton are following up on a promise to end switchbacks on the T-Third rail line effective immediately.

Walton, who many of his constituents rely on the T-Third in the Bayview, made ending switchbacks on the rail line one of his top priorities when elected to supervisor last November. Walton said in a statement:

“For years our residents in the Southeast corner of San Francisco have felt isolated and disenfranchised and switchbacks on the T-Line have continued to keep us isolated (particularly in Bayview, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Visitacion Valley), as they cause the train not to finish the route and leave entire communities of color stuck without a way home, a way to work, a way to pick up their children from daycare and so many other areas that help keep families and communities functioning.”

Walton added:

“Stopping switchbacks is one common sense way to connect Southeast sector residents to the rest of San Francisco and improve their quality of life.”

A switchback occurs when a train switches around — sometimes mid-route — during a scheduled run. Transit officials switch back trains to fill a gap in service.

The switchback, though, leaves passengers already onboard the train having to get off to wait for another train.

SFMTA officials said they will stop the switchbacks by carrying out a number of measures, including integrating rail service management into the transit agency’s Transportation Management Center, having a train on standby to fill any gap in service, and regularly reviewing the performance of the T-Third.

Mayor London Breed is also promising that the switchbacks will stop on the T-Third:

“Ending switchbacks on the T Third Line is a good step towards achieving equitable transit service in San Francisco. Our residents rely on our public transit every day to drop their kids off at school, get to work and run errands. We not only need to end switchbacks, we need to do more to invest in our transportation infrastructure so that our trains and buses are consistently on-time and reliable.”

District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar called for hearings in February on Muni rail switchbacks and how the transit agency can reduce them, especially for his constituents that ride the L-Taraval and N-Judah.

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