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Muni subway returns Saturday with modified service

San Francisco residents Saturday will see the familiar sight of Muni trains again moving through the subway and city streets.

As previously reported, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced in July that Muni Metro service was going to return in August, but with some major route configurations.

In an effort to ease subway traffic congestion, transit officials said there will be fewer rail lines entering the subway portal at West Portal station and at Church Street and Duboce Avenue.

The J-Church will no longer enter the Duboce portal and instead will drop passengers off at Church and Market streets. Passengers who need to continue downtown will need to head to the subway’s Church station entrance.

Likewise at West Portal Avenue, the L-Taraval and K-Ingleside will now be combined will not head into the subway. Passengers will instead get off at Ulloa Street and use the West Portal station on the next block.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said Tuesday Muni Metro service has had reliability issues due to the number of lines entering the subway. Additionally, Tumlin said the transition from manual mode to auto train control at entry subway portals is not always smooth.

Addressing other issues that have plagued the subway for decades, Tumlin said:

“We also have switch problems in the subway and a turn back at Embarcadero station that is not designed to handle as many lines convening there and needing to turn back”

The agency plans to run shuttle trains between West Portal and Embarcadero stations along with the newly combined M-Oceanview and T-Third rail line. The N-Judah will continue to run on its normal route.

A SFMTA spokesperson said the transit agency will limit capacity to 40 passengers per single-car train.

Senior and disability advocates called into the SFMTA board meeting Tuesday voiced concerns over the rail plan modifications that now require passengers to transfer to and from the subway.

Pi Ra, transit justice director at Senior and Disability Action, said the transfer point for J passengers creates barriers for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Ra said:

“The current Muni service is already a challenge for us to access, so why add more travel, waiting time, physical exertion for people with mobility issues?”

Ra also brought up concerns about crossing the intersection at Church and Market streets to access the subway station entrance.

Ra and Bob Planthold, also with the senior and disability organization, wrote an editorial published by the San Francisco Examiner Sunday that publicly voiced concern about the upcoming subway changes.

Transit officials said they installed temporary accessible boarding ramps not just at the J transfer point, but also at the West Portal transfer point.

Meanwhile, Bay Area transit agency leaders Wednesday released a for passenger and employee safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. Click here to read the full plan.

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