At long last, San Francisco Muni subway riders will finally have Wi-Fi access throughout the subway when it reopens sometime in May.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced Monday in a blog post that Muni Metro riders aboard trains will be able to tell friends, family and bosses when they’re running late and check the SFMTA’s Twitter account to figure out why they’re stuck in the tunnel during delays.

The transit agency wrote that station routers and cellular antennas were installed over the last several months as crews were working on subway repairs. Those repairs are now wrapping up — a safety certification was issued March 11.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, subway service had been suspended and replaced by buses. Officials last August did attempt to restore subway service, an effort that only lasted a few days due to faulty splices and a control center staff member contracting Covid-19.

Officials then decided to keep the subway closed to replace the faulty splices and complete additional subway maintenance work.

Some of the work included replacement of the ballast and lights inside the tunnel so operators can better see potential hazards. Crews also ground the rail track to make for a quieter and smoother ride.

Subway passengers will also see new wayfinding and directional signage at Castro and Church stations. It’s part of the agency’s effort to improve all wayfinding signage at all subway stations, the agency wrote.

SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin said in a March 24 tweet that staff is experimenting with new signage and making adjustments as added. He added that the agency is moving away from terms like “inbound” and “outbound” to describe the route directions, instead using a combination of terms to indicate destination endpoint and cardinal directions, like north, south, east and west.

The agency will gradually restore Muni subway service beginning in May, first by extending the T-Third to service stations between West Portal and Embarcadero. The N-Judah will also return to its full route, serving Ocean Beach to Fourth and King streets.

Rail service on the J-Church returned months ago, which runs between Balboa Park and Market and Church streets, and service on the T came was reintroduced in January, but only making stops between Embarcadero station to Sunnydale.

Last month, SFMTA Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum said the K-Ingleside, L-Taraval and M-Ocean View will not be restored this year due to a shortage of trained rail operators. No significant training classes were conducted during the pandemic.

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 jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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