A Brief History of the Muni Metro Subway

MUNI METRO OPERATIONS HISTORY – CAPACITY AND DEMAND

Angelo Figone, Transportation Consultant; Former Chief Transportation Officer, Rail

Planning History:
The concept of a Market Street subway dates to Muni’s formative decades with a “ Report on Rapid Transit for the City of San Francisco With Special Consideration to a Subway Under Market Street” issued in 1931 by City Chief Engineer M.M. O’Shaughnessy. Subsequent studies throughout the 1940s and 1950s culminated with the establishment of the BARTD system and the collaborative effort to build a two-level subway with BART and MUNI rail operations. Begun in 1967, the subway construction was completed in 1977; however, initial Muni Metro (MM) revenue operations did not begin until February, 1980. Thereafter in phases, the existing surface streetcar lines N, K,L,M and J would transition from surface operation to surface-subway operation utilizing then-new Boeing-Vertol light rail vehicles (LRV).

Initial Capacity Design:
In 1967 – the commencement of subway construction – the five surface streetcar lines were scheduled for peak-period headways of 2-8 minutes with a peak-hour trip count of 72 producing a maximum capacity of 7920 volume (200 % load factor of 55 average seats/car). 100 cars were scheduled for the peak period. Initial planning prior to SLRV design and purchase called for 78 cars with an option for 14, but the final purchase totaled 100. It was assumed that replicating the 7920 peak-hour capacity would be accomplished with a 50% reduction in running time in the Market Street segment, a 25% increase in car capacity and a projected spare ratio of 20% yielding 80 maximum scheduled cars. (more…)

Save Muni Challenges Recently Appointed Muni Working Group to Come Up With Real Solutions to Muni’s Problems

Gwyneth Borden and Ed Harrington, Co-Chairs
Muni Reliability Working Group (via email to maura.lane@sfgov.org)

Dear Co-Chairs Borden and Harrington and Members,

Save Muni is the only truly independent transit advocacy group in San Francisco. We meet monthly, take informed positions on key transit and transportation issues, and communicate regularly with City leaders to influence operations, policy, and governance of the city’s transportation systems.

Three Save Muni members attended the first gathering of the Working Group on July 26, 2019. While we were surprised and disappointed not to have been included as a member of the Working Group we do intend to continue attending and participating in ways that will inform the discussion.

Based upon our observation of the July 26th meeting, Save Muni offers the following suggestions for the Working Group’s future direction. (more…)

Open Forum: Save Muni from itself

People stand at a bus stop at Market and Church streets waiting for shuttle buses headed to downtown San Francisco. After a power line failure disabled Muni Metro subway trains, commuters had to take alternative routes to get to their destinations. Photo: Jana Asenbrennerova / Special to The Chronicle

Save Muni has long called for a management audit of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. To that request we now must add: Review the agency’s structure. Well-reported problems with new train cars, operator shortages and maintenance problems last month have only highlighted the agency’s shortcomings.

The SFMTA was created over a decade ago to bring all the city’s transportation under one agency. As envisioned, professionals would work together to develop integrated policies and programs that served the public better than separate taxi, streets and transit departments. It simply was assumed that keeping politics out of transportation, by insulating the SFMTA from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would assure better decisions.
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Save Muni Calls Out Defects in the new LRVs

Date: March 26, 2019

Ed Reiskin,
Director of Transportation
San Francisco MTA

Save Muni recognizes that Muni needs new Light Rail Vehicles (LRV’s) to replace the aging fleet of Breda cars. However, the first cohort of the new Siemens cars, which are now in service, are a huge disappointment and clearly need design changes to better serve San Francisco transit riders.

The SFMTA seems to have focused on cramming as many riders as possible into the cars with uncomfortable seating and poorly designed multipurpose areas. More importantly it appears that no attention was paid to the ability to quickly safely, and smoothly couple cars to achieve the 3-and-4 car trains that the Market Street Subway was designed for.

Save Muni members have identified some other problems with the new cars. 1) jerky acceleration which leads to the danger of rider injuries:.2) inability to provide a level step onto subway platforms 3) flawed interior design that leads to sliding on the bench seats: 4) inadequate numbe kr of stanchions and straps 5) poor door configuration which hinders boarding, especially for disabled riders: 6) narrower pantograph width which will lead to both vehicle and overhead wire damage.

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SFMTA Ignores Muni Metro Crowding

L Taraval Street Scenes

Muni includes many heavily used bus lines.  But the workhorse of the system is, or at least should be, the Muni Metro subway/surface system.

A fully grade-separated subway typically carries hundreds of thousands of riders a day.  Tokyo’s 9 lines carry an average of over 1,000,000 riders per day per line.  The Paris Metro’s 19 lines carry an average of 260,000 riders per line per day.  New York’s 22 subway lines average over 250,000 riders per line per day.  What makes this possible are long trains traveling frequently at regular intervals.

The Muni Metro is not fully grade-separated and station constraints limit the length of its trains.  Therefore the five Muni Metro lines cannot generate the huge riderships that are achieved by many subways throughout the world.  However, Muni Metro’s peak period carrying capacity is currently less than half of what it was designed to be and could again be.  In fact the five Muni metro lines today average only a little over 30,000 thousand riders per line per day, roughly a third what they could and should be carrying.  The Market Street subway is no longer doing the job it was designed and built to do.

This unacceptably low ridership is not because people don’t want to use the system.  It is estimated that were it not for excessive peak period crowding, Muni Metro’s ridership would climb by at least 40,000 riders a day. In other words, tens of thousands of would-be Muni Metro riders are pushed off the Muni Metro system every day because of excessive peak period crowding.  With traffic increasing and Muni surface vehicles slowing down, the lack of a fully functional Muni Metro system is becoming a bigger and bigger headache for anyone trying to get around in San Francisco.

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Update on the ill-conceived M line plan

mline

All that expensive tunneling (in green) to serve only the east edge of the Development?? A shuttle bus to a depressed Holloway Station would serve many more people and be much cheaper.

Some time back SaveMuni posted an article entitled: “A Roundup of Recent SFMTA Mistakes.” Mistake No. III describes the ill-conceived 19th Avenue/M-Line tear-up.

Despite the absurdity of this project, the SFCTA and SFMTA are ploughing ahead, pointing to a $70 million “contribution” from the developer of the Park Merced Project as justification for spending between $1.2 and $2.0 billion of the taxpayers’ money to put the Muni M-Line in a subway along the west side of 19th Avenue in order to facilitate a tunneled detour a short way into the Parkmerced Development.
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SFMTA Approves Muni Service Increase

(Exerpted from SF Bay January 21, 2015)

Seniors and disabled Muni riders weren’t the only ones benefiting from a better financial picture for San Francisco’s transportation agency over the next two fiscal years.The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors are moving ahead with a 7% Muni service increase, additional funding for cleaning Muni vehicles and eliminating telephone and online transaction fees charged for making a citation payment to the SFMTA.

The board last April included all of these programs in its two-year budget last year, which included free Muni for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, but was contingent on how the transit agency’s financial health looked like this month.

In a report (presented to the SFMTA Board at its regular meeting on January 20th), the transit agency said it would be able to financially support the increase in Muni service and the additional funding to hire more staff to clean Muni vehicles of graffiti and tagging.

The transit agency projects higher revenues (from) transit fares, parking fees and fines and also (from) more funds from The City because of current (improving) state of San Francisco’s economy.

The 7% increase in Muni service approved Tuesday by the SFMTA Board follows a 3% increase approved last April.

Muni riders will begin seeing some of these service increases starting January 31st, including the launch of Muni’s new 55-16th Street route and increased frequency on the 44-O’Shaughnessy line. A soft launch of the new route is set for January 26th, according to SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin.

The SFMTA said the rest of Muni ‘new service will be phased in starting this Spring and continuing during next Fall and Winter.

Transit officials also approved an additional $1.8 million for the SFMTA to hire additional staff to increase the cleaning intervals of Muni vehicles. Of the $1.8 million, the transit agency dedicated $600,000 through the current fiscal year and $1.2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The transit agency also got rid of its $2.50 transaction fee charged to people who pay their citations from the SFMTA online or by telephone, which will take effect on May 1.

Mayor’s Transportation Task Force Misses the Mark

Early in 2013 Mayor Edwin Lee announced the formation of a 46-person Transportation Task Force, convened to develop a long range transportation plan for San Francisco. The intent was to convince voters to pass a General Obligation Bond Issue, extend the 1/2 cent transportation sales tax and increase San Francisco’s Vehicle License Fee. This was expected to raise a total of $2.955 billion, to be spent over the next 20 years on assorted projects selected by the Task Force.

Unfortunately the Task Force was comprised mostly of inexperienced individuals brought in to help win support for the funding measures to be placed before the voters rather than pursue sound transportation planning. Most members of the Task Force had little if any experience in the transportation field, particularly with respect to Muni and its huge backlog of unfulfilled capital needs. A quick review of the 27 projects proposed by the Task Force in its report released in November 2013 in shows that the result of the effort was a “transportation plan” in name only.

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A Critique of SFMTA’s TEP

SaveMuni has completed an analysis of the SFMTA’s Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), which clearly represents a great deal of investigation and hard work. Following is a summary of our findings:

1.) Meeting TEP Objectives:  At the beginning of the report the TEP lists some very well-stated general objectives. However, when developing the detailed improvements that comprise the essence of the TEP, the planners paid little attention to these goals. There is a need to evaluate each TEP proposal in order to ascertain the degree to which it conforms to the important objectives set forth in the Policy Framework (Pages 2-19 to 2-23) and make adjustments in the proposed improvements accordingly.
000_stockton photo

2.) Stockton Street Overlooked:  TEP planners say they want to improve transit operations on Stockton Street. Achieving this objective would require speeded up loading and unloading coupled with greatly improved service reliability. Low-floor, articulated buses would speed up loading and reduce crowding. Consistent police enforcement of existing traffic laws would help keep the streets clear. Getting the southbound 8x Line buses off Stockton would reduce the tendency of the three lines now operating on the street to get in each other’s way. In its report entitled “Stockton Surface Improvements” SaveMuni identifies 8 specific changes that together would materially improve Chinatown surface bus operations. According to SFMTA projections, 89% of the users of the three Stockton Street bus lines will continue ride the buses even after the Central Subway goes into operation. It is therefore imperative that the SFMTA bring the Stockton Street bus service up to standard.

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19 Steps to a better Muni

Unlike an outlying suburban area, San Francisco is a densely built-up city in need of a world class public transit system. When Muni falters, the lives and livelihoods of 700,000 daily riders and 60,000 reliant small businesses are immediately affected. Because of SFMTA’s fiscal and operational problems, Muni currently fails to provide consistently reliable service on its 75 bus munistepsand rail lines.

Until this changes, beleaguered Muni riders will continue to experience slow downs and gaps in service, vehicle breakdowns and frequent over-crowding.  Fixing these problems will require basic changes to the current program.  Needed most are smart planning, optimal deployment and operations, improved street conditions, a superior vehicle maintenance operation, changes in working rules and effective use of capital.

With persistence, strong management and smart policy-making, Muni is capable of providing truly excellent service to riders and would-be riders.

Here are 19 proposals designed to get to that point 

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