UPDATE: IB and OB 38/38R continue to reroute around Geary and 38th due to non-Muni collision. (More: 8 in last 48 hours)

Rail Recovery

Project Introduction

Alert: Effective August 25 Muni Metro will be shut down for several weeks. Buses will serve these routes. 

Temporary Metro bus substitutions:

  • J Church bus will operate between Balboa Park and Church & Duboce approximately every 15 minutes
  • K Ingleside bus operate between Balboa Park and Embarcadero approximately every 15 minutes
  • L Taraval bus will operate between SF Zoo and Embarcadero approximately every 10-15 minutes
  • N Judah bus will operate between Ocean Beach and 4th & King approximately every 8-10 minutes
  • M Ocean View bus will operate between Balboa Park and West Portal approximately every 12 minutes
    • *For Service to or from downtown, use L or K bus transfers at West Portal Station.
  • T Third bus will operate between Sunnydale and Castro & Market every 8-10 minutes

 

Use the quick links below to jump to specific information:

Muni Metro is scheduled to return in August 2020. Putting Muni Metro back in service frees up buses currently in use for the L Taraval, M Ocean View, N Judah and T Third to serve additional routes and improve service frequency systemwide.  As Metro service is restored, the SFMTA is planning to increase capacity in the subway by adjusting which Metro lines enter the tunnels. The J Church, K Ingleside and L Taraval lines will be taken out of the subway.

A high-frequency shuttle in the subway will replace these Metro lines. Devoting the tunnels to the higher capacity shuttle uses the space in our subway much more efficiently. These changes will support more essential trips, physical distancing and our city’s economic recovery. Overall, it’s a better use of limited space to move more people, given the distancing constraints we are facing.  

Below are highlights of the service changes in effect as of August 22.


 

Muni Metro Lines That Will Shift to Surface-only Routes:

In order to significantly cut down delays and congestion in the tunnels, the following Muni Metro service will return, but will temporarily no longer use the subway:

  • J Church: The J Church will temporarily no longer enter the subway. It will terminate at Market Street. To continue downtown customers can transfer to the TM Third-Oceanview line or S Shuttle at Church Station on Market and Church, or the N Judah at Duboce and Church. To learn about the temporary new transfer visit the J Church Transfer Project.
  • LK Taraval-Ingleside: The L Taraval and K Ingleside will be combined (interlined) into an LK Taraval-Ingleside line and will no longer enter the subway at West Portal Station. This new combined LK Taraval-Ingleside route will run from the SF Zoo to City College at Balboa Park Station. West Portal will be a transfer point to either the TM Third-Ocean View or S Shuttles for riders who need to continue to downtown. To learn about the temporary new transfer visit the West Portal LK Transfer Project.

Diagram: J Church transfer at Church and Market, and LK Taraval-Ingleside transfer at West Portal

Diagram: J Church transfer at Church and Market, and LK Taraval-Ingleside transfer at West Portal

Learn more about the J Church and the LK Taraval-Ingleside transfer points by visiting the project pages. Jump to our section on transfer accessibility for additional information.


 

Additional Muni Metro Service Changes:

  • With the return of Metro service, all non-Owl Metro buses currently running will be suspended. This includes the N Bus, L Bus and T Bus. The N Owl and L Owl bus service will continue.
  • The N Judah will return to regular service with two-car trains.
  • Frequent S Shuttles will return to service between West Portal and Embarcadero stations with two-car trains. These shuttles will run exclusively inside the subway.
  • The T Third and M Oceanview will return and be combined as the TM Third-Oceanview. This means we will be able to use two-car trains on both these lines when service returns.

Here is a map of the new Muni Metro rail configuration:

Rail changes map

Here is a summary of Muni Metro service changes effective August 22:

J Church

  • New, temporary, surface-only route between Balboa Park and Church at Market
  • New, temporary transfer required to and from downtown at Church Station on frequent trains
  • Daily frequency: Every 6 to 9 minutes.

LK Taraval-Ingleside

  • New, temporary, combined surface-only route between SF Zoo and Balboa Park.
  • New, temporary transfer required to and from downtown at West Portal Station on frequent trains
  • Daily frequency: Every 6 to 9 minutes.

N Judah

  • Full route restored between Ocean Beach (Judah at La Playa) and 4th at King
  • Weekday hours of service: 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., frequency every 6 to 9 minutes.
  • Weekend hours of service: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., frequency every 10 to 14 minutes.

S Shuttle

  • Subway-only line restored between West Portal and Embarcadero
  • Weekday hours of service: 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., frequency every 6 to 9 minutes.
  • Weekend hours of service: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., frequency every 6 to 9 minutes.

TM Third-Oceanview

  • Full T Third and M Oceanview routes, temporarily combined to the new TM Third-Ocean View line between West Portal and Embarcadero
  • Weekday hours of service: 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., frequency every 10 to 14 minutes.
  • Weekend hours of service: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., frequency every 10 to 14 minutes.

Weekend Early Morning Muni Metro Bus Substitutions (5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.)

To align with BART’s weekend station opening schedule, Muni Metro will not operate in the subway until 8:00 a.m. on weekends. Buses will substitute service between approximately 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on weekends. Please refer to individual route pages for detailed routing and stop locations. Allow extra time to get to your destination.

L Taraval Owl

  • Inbound to Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Outbound to Wawona & 46th Ave (towards SF Zoo)
  • Daily, 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., approximately every 30 minutes

N Judah Owl

  • Inbound to Townsend & 5th Street
  • Outbound to Judah & La Playa
  • Daily, 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., approximately every 30 minutes

N Judah Bus

  • Inbound to Townsend & 5th Street
  • Outbound to Judah & La Playa
  • Daily, 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., approximately every 30 minutes

91 3rd St./19th Ave.

  • Inbound to 19th Ave. & Holloway (SFSU)
  • Outbound to West Portal
  • Daily, 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., approximately every 30 minutes

M Ocean View Bus

  • Inbound to Ferry Plaza
  • Outbound to Balboa Park Station
  • Weekends only, 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., approximately every 20 minutes

T Third Bus

  • Inbound to Castro Station (F Market loop)
  • Outbound to Sunnydale
  • Weekends only, 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., approximately every 20 minutes
  • Extra service for Third St corridor. No NextBus predictions.

Making Muni Metro More Reliable

We are all too familiar with the routine backups that occurred in the Metro tunnels before COVID-19. Trains would be stuck outside the tunnels, between stations and on the platforms for long periods, often unable to let customers on or off. For years J Church and N Judah customers have experienced delays waiting to enter the tunnel at Duboce. Customers have similar experiences waiting to exit the tunnel at West Portal Station. A major cause is structural – we move all seven of our Muni Metro lines through a single subway tunnel. Like a backed-up freeway, trains get stuck in traffic, causing unacceptable slowdowns and unreliable service across the system.

Graphic: Pre-COVID-19 Muni Metro lines converging into a single tunnel.

Graphic: Pre-COVID-19 Muni Metro lines converging into a single tunnel.

Change has been needed for a long time, but now, more than ever, we must get people to their jobs and activities reliably and reduce delays that could increase risk of exposure to COVID-19. As we continue through the COVID emergency, it’s imperative that we take the opportunity to improve our rail service so that we can deliver people to their destinations reliably. We don’t want our customers stuck on trains in between stations or crowding on station platforms. By limiting the number of lines that go into the subway, we can meet both of those goals.

This will be a big change to our previous Muni Metro service and a big adjustment for all of us. Customers will need to adapt some of their commute habits, so we are also working to ensure transfers are convenient for people to easily make their connections, particularly for seniors and people with disabilities.


 

Addressing Demand for Rail

Our subway system moves our highest volumes of customers through the core of the city. Reliability is crucial for our customers and operations. Yet over the years that our service has grown, we have placed too much demand on our subway tunnels without improving tunnel capacity.

Before the COVID-19 emergency, we had been running more trains per hour in subway than we can process, roughly 40 trains per hour. However, we’re often only able to get 35 of those trains through per hour. 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 to address service demand.

Graphic: Line graphs depicting the disparity between number of trains scheduled to run through the subway and actual number of trains that get from end to end. The difference represents backups and delays that make the current configuration unreliable.

Graphic: Line graphs depicting the disparity between number of trains scheduled to run through the subway and actual number of trains that get from end to end. The difference represents backups and delays that make the current configuration unreliable.

The J Church and K Ingleside lines can only support one-car trains due to surface-level constraints, while the N Judah, M Ocean View, T Third and S Shuttle can accommodate two-car trains. One-car trains take up the same “slot” in the subway as a two-car train. By devoting the tunnels to the higher capacity routes, we could be using the space in our subway much more efficiently. And with ridership volumes, it currently makes the most sense to combine the L Taraval and K Ingleside lines into a new LK Taraval-Ingleside line.

The shorter running times means the J Church, K Ingleside and L Taraval lines will be more frequent along their new surface-only routes. Combined with a more reliable frequent shuttle service, trips downtown will be more dependable and quicker.

We want to hear from you. Please use our feedback form to share your input.


 

Accessibility at New Muni Metro Transfer Points

The new temporary LK Taraval-Ingleside and J Church transfers feature temporary accessible curbside platforms and temporary transfer zones.

Example of temporary accessible boarding map

Photo: Example of a temporary accessible boarding ramp

West Portal

LK Taraval-Ingleside customers headed downtown will need to transfer at West Portal. LK Taraval-Ingleside trains heading both eastbound toward Balboa Park and westbound toward SF Zoo will stop on Ulloa Street near West Portal Station to let able-bodied customers board or get off. The train will then advance to the new temporary accessible curbside platforms to drop off and pick up customers with mobility devices, strollers, and others who may have difficulty boarding using stairs. Customers continuing downtown can enter West Portal Station to board the S Shuttle or TM Third-Ocean View. Note that S Shuttle will use the inbound platform for both boarding and alighting.

Click on the animation below to see how this new configuration will work for customers.

LK Taraval-Ingleside transfer animation

Animation: LK Taraval-Ingleside transfer point at West Portal

Church and Market

As of August 22, the last inbound stop for the J Church will be on Church Street at Market Street, near Church Street Station. There is an existing accessible platform at this stop. J Church customers will need to transfer to Church Street Station for downtown service. These customers can catch the new, subway-only S Shuttles or the new combined TM Third-Oceanview from Church Street Station.

A new, temporary emergency transit zone on Church Street between Market and 15th streets limits traffic to ensure a safer boarding process for J Church customers and to limit conflicts with the train turning maneuvers. For customers heading inbound toward downtown, J Church trains will stop on Church Street at Market Street to let on customers with mobility devices, strollers, and others who may have difficulty boarding using stairs from the existing accessible platform south of Market Street. The train will then pull forward for customers who do not need accessible boarding.

Customers continuing downtown who need to use the elevator to access Church Station can cross Church Street heading west and then cross Market Street heading north. The Church Station elevator is located on the northwest corner of Market Street and Church Street. Customers can also access Church Street Station via escalator on either the southwest or northwest side of Market Street.

Click on the animation below shows how this new configuration will work for customers.

J Church transfer point animation

Animation: J Church transfer point at Church and Market streets


 

New Detailed Metro Map

New detailed Muni Metro map