Friday, April 13, 2007

New Muni Metro extension causing a systemwide meltdown

Ever since the T-Third light rail line began full service last Saturday in San Francisco, the entire Muni Metro system has been severly impacted. Service on the T-line and other lines was unreliable and trains back up in key locations causing back ups. The T-line was expected to have a headway of 8 to 12 minutes, but at various times trains won't show up for more than 40 minutes. At the 4th & King intersection near the Caltrain station, it took up to 10 minutes for some trains to get through the intersection, causing Muni riders to miss their Caltrain connection. In addition, Muni was short of light rail vehicles and operators. Runs were missed and operators had to work overtime.

Blogs and message boards like SFist and San Francisco Cityscape have been monitoring the service daily. Many posters shared their experiences of slow commutes and expressed their outrage for poor planning and operation.

Nine years ago, the Muni Metro system had another service meltdown, when Muni began using a new computerized train control system in the subway and extended the N-Judah line to the Caltrain station at 4th & King. Because of that meltdown, then mayor Willie Brown recruited Michael Burns, now the VTA General Manager, to manage Muni.

The T-line was supposed to improve transit service to the impoverished Bay View District. Although the presence of rail has helped to spur developments and businesses in the area, the rail line has yet to prove itself to be a dependable form of transportation to the residents in the area.

Richard Mlynarik wrote in the SFist blog: "Would you give any of these criminal incompetents $1.5 billion to build a subway [Central Subway] which will dump MORE trains at the train-gridlocked 4th&King intersection? Would you give them $2 and think they could serve a cup of coffee for that matter?

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