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SFMTA to Stop Switching Back Trains on the T Third Line

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Shamann Walton and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) today announced ending switchbacks on the T Third Line. The effort aims to establish equitable and reliable transportation to the southeast sector of San Francisco, as part of the agency’s Equity Strategy.

The Muni Service Equity Strategy is an ongoing effort to improve service performance in eight Equity Strategy neighborhoods, including Bayview, Chinatown, Mission, Oceanview/Ingleside, Outer Mission/Excelsior, Tenderloin/SOMA, Visitacion Valley and Western Addition.

“Ending switchbacks on the T Third Line is a good step towards achieving equitable transit service in San Francisco,” said Mayor Breed. “Our residents rely on our public transit every day to drop their kids off at school, get to work and run errands. We not only need to end switchbacks, we need to do more to invest in our transportation infrastructure so that our trains and buses are consistently on-time and reliable.”

To accommodate the elimination of switchbacks on the T Third Line, the SFMTA will:

  • Provide updated schedules with more accurate travel times, because switchbacks, historically, were needed to get service back on schedule;
  • Integrate rail service controllers into the modern Transportation Management Center, allowing for better management of the entire system;
  • Have a train on standby along the route to slot in and fill in any gaps in service;
  • Regularly management review of long wait times and other performance data to address performance issues;
  • Continue to improve subway service, which can create longer wait times for service above ground.

“For years our residents in the Southeast corner of San Francisco have felt isolated and disenfranchised and switchbacks on the T-Line have continued to keep us isolated (particularly in Bayview, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Visitacion Valley), as they cause the train not to finish the route and leave entire communities of color stuck without a way home, a way to work, a way to pick up their children from daycare and so many other areas that help keep families and communities functioning,” said Supervisor Walton. “Stopping switchbacks is one common-sense way to connect Southeast sector residents to the rest of San Francisco and improve their quality of life. I’m excited to work with the Mayor and SFMTA to end switchbacks on the T-Line immediately.”

A switchback occurs when a Muni rail line changes directions in the middle of a scheduled run. This usually occurs to address service gaps throughout the system to provide more balanced service across the city. However, given the inconvenience it causes for people who have to off-board the switching train, the SFMTA committed to a new policy to minimalize and prevent such switchbacks on the T Third line.  Muni customers in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood have raised concerns about switchbacks and the difficulties associated with having to disembark from a train and wait for another one to transport them to their destination.

“One of our top priorities is to improve the customer experience on Muni for all riders,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “We are proud to work with Supervisor Walton to find ways to improve service that aligns with our Equity Strategy, which aims to implement service treatments that can be implemented quickly while delivering measurable improvement to safety, connectivity, reliability, frequency and crowding.”

By eliminating switchbacks along Third Street, T-line riders can expect trains with destination signs indicating “Sunnydale,” to go all the way to the end of the line. The result will be a better, more predictable trip for customers headed southeast.

The SFMTA is always interested in feedback and reports, so please message us at @SFMTA_muni or call us at 311. When making a report, details are key, so please include the time of the incident, location, line and four-digit vehicle number if you can. For more details on making a report, click here.