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San Francisco officials announced a plan Friday that will bring back some rail service in the subway beginning on May 15.

The restarted service service includes the return of the K-Ingleside and the N-Judah on the west side of The City, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Myrna Meglar announced.

Rail service on the K, along with the L-Taraval and M-Ocean View, were not expected to return until early next year, mostly due to an operator shortage as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has not done significant hiring during the pandemic, transit officials said last month.

Melgar, who represents District 7, which includes the Ingleside and West Portal neighborhoods, said in a statement that she was “ecstatic” for the return of the K:

“We are reopening, our folks are getting vaccinated, our merchants are seeing an uptick in foot traffic and connecting businesses to their customers is critical to economic recovery and vitality.”

She added:

“The K light rail is crucial for District 7 — not just our businesses but also our institutions, such as our SFUSD schools and City College. We need reliable and accessible transit service and to ensure our recovery and success after a year of Covid.”

Melgar last month at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board meeting expressed her disappointment for the delayed return of the K as businesses along Ocean Avenue relied on the return of rail service, she said.

Since the pandemic began last March, the SFMTA suspended the use of its trains and closed the subway. The agency replaced rail service with Muni buses. Transit officials have gradually brought back some rail service, including the T-Third (Embarcadero to Sunnydale) and the J-Church (Balboa Park to Church Street and Duboce Avenue).

Officials said the K and T will interline again and will make stops throughout the subway between West Portal and Embarcadero stations. Since the subway closure last year, the SFMTA has been doing infrastructure work to improve the subway’s reliability along with the addition of Wi-Fi.

SFMTA Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum said in a statement:

“Our ability to make this announcement of additional Muni service is a true testament to the collaboration between Muni staff, our labor unions and community partners. We know that key transit connections are critical to the city’s economic recovery, and we’re thrilled to re-open the subway and ramp up service.”

Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the return of the K is a step forward of bringing Muni service back as The City continues to recover from the pandemic.

Both the L and the M will continue to run using buses. As previously announced, the SFMTA is additionally planning the return of the F-Market/Wharves historic streetcar service along next month.

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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