Ever since the SFMTA announced some major service changes coming to all of the underground Muni train lines, there has been plenty of reaction both positive and negative to what this would mean in theory. But as of Saturday, August 22, Muni riders have been getting to see how the changes work in practice.
The map below lays out what has changed, and the biggest changes will affect residents living on the J-Church, or near the ends of the K and L lines, because traveling downtown now requires a transfer. These changes were first laid out back in June, with the ostensible primary driver being the pandemic and trying to prevent overcrowding on the Muni Metro. But it's pretty clear that these are changes that someone has been thinking through for a long time, with a view toward removing some of the light-rail traffic through the central artery tunnel to and from downtown.
"Before the COVID-19 emergency, we had been running more trains per hour in subway than we can process, roughly 40 trains per hour. Often, however, we’re only able to get 35 of [the] trains through," the SFMTA wrote back in June. "This makes our service inconsistent and leaves our customers frustrated. To improve reliability and efficiency we need to reduce the number of trains per hour to around 25 to 30 and run higher capacity trains through the subway."
Reducing trains in the main tunnel means that the K and the L lines become a two-way connector between the San Francisco Zoo and Balboa Park BART — riders trying to get downtown will now need to board a M, T, or S-Shuttle train at West Portal.
The S-Shuttle will be an underground-only line that just goes back and forth between Embarcadero and West Portal, while the combined TM will continue on the Third Street line. (The line will basically make all M stops when it's going outbound, and will make all T stops going inbound to Sunnydale.)
The J-Church becomes — they say temporarily — a surface-only route between Balboa Park and Church and Market. Riders will need to transfer to the underground or other bus service at Church and Market.
Meanwhile, the N-Judah will function in essentially the same way it used to, with its full line restored between Ocean Beach and 4th and King/Caltrain.
The SFMTA says that all the rail lines will run every 10 minutes or less.
There are also a bunch of restored bus lines and specific changes there, which you can read about in full here.
If you're a regular Muni rider during this pandemic moment, you can offer your feedback on the changes here. Also, Muni Diaries is looking for stories/feedback, and you're free to tell us in the comments of this post. Or you can just @-message SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin on Twitter and see if he responds.
Tumlin was busy dealing with some fresh problems Monday morning, as the first weekday of this major overhaul of the light-rail system was met with a familiar overheard wire problem at 4 a.m., and apparently J-Church service had to be replaced with buses.
Our first weekday of new Muni service will be rough. Overhead wire down at Forest Hill and buses substituted on J. We've got ambassadors at all transfer points to help direct passengers— Jeffrey Tumlin (@jeffreytumlin) August 24, 2020
Overhead wire crews ready to roll pic.twitter.com/Vgn3tlWcmr— Jeffrey Tumlin (@jeffreytumlin) August 24, 2020
And now, in many of the stations on the main Muni Metro core line, you will be seeing new signage.