If you took an N-Judah to work and noticed a lot more standing room, you can thank Supervisors London Breed and Scott Wiener, who pushed for more strap-hanging and less seat-hogging on light rail lines.
Currently there is only one N-Judah car with the new seat configuration, which removed seven aisle seats to create more standing room in the aisle and some soon-to-be-coveted single window seats. According to Supervisor Wiener, who has been pushing the idea since he took office, every seat takes up the standing space of two people. And, according to your humble associate editor and former N-Judah commuter, it's just really annoying to try and get through that narrow aisle on a packed train.
"Now you have people holding on to the handrail and an entire row of people could file in between them," Supervisor Wiener told the Examiner. "To me it seems positive."
The extra open space is expected to have a second benefit for the grumbling Muni riding public: it ought to speed up boardings and help bump up Muni's on-time performance. As Supervisor Breed put it, "It's more important [riders] are able to get in than have a seat."
The price tag for re-arranging the seats on a 15-year-old Muni car totals about $30,000 for new seats and poles, and if feedback is good the short-term fix could be rolled out to more train cars in the future. The SFMTA is also hoping to buy 260 new LRVs to replace 150 streetcars in the current 15-year-old fleet.
The test car will be on the N-Judah line, mostly during rush hours, until the end of the month. After that, Muni will move it over and try it out on the L-Taraval for a couple weeks in June.