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Central Subway Will Close Early On The Holiday Weekends

Service Affected
Neighborhoods Affected
Route(s) Affected

This weekend, Dec. 24 and 25, and next weekend, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, free rail shuttle service in the Central Subway will end at 5 p.m. instead of at midnight. We regret this change, but it’s unavoidable. 

The reason for the early closure is that we are going to be short-staffed on these holiday weekends and expect to fall short of the number of rail controllers we need to operate our entire Muni Metro system. For safety, adequate personnel coverage is necessary.  

When the Central Subway is closed after 5 p.m. on these two weekends, the rest of the Muni Metro will be in operation, as will our bus network. We encourage anyone who was planning to use the Central Subway line between the Chinatown and 4th & Brannan Street stations after 5 p.m. this weekend to take advantage of bus service to those destinations, including the 30 Stockton and 45 Union/Stockton. On weekends after 5 p.m., the 30 Stockton and 45 Union/Stockton are each scheduled to come every 15-20 minutes.  

People who were planning to take advantage of free Muni on New Year’s Eve can still do so. The launch of the new T Third in the Central Subway, connecting Chinatown to Sunnydale, is still planned for January 7, 2023. 

The SFMTA has a shortage of rail controllers, which we’ve been working to address in several ways. However, the combination of the holiday weekend, an increase in respiratory illnesses and other factors has brought this shortage to a breaking point this week. 

To address this shortage, we have taken the following steps, among others: 

  • We are actively training new rail controllers. 
  • We are incentivizing existing rail controllers to work more hours. 
  • We are recertifying some of the SFMTA managers who’ve had rail control experience in the past in case they need to step in. 

We have known for a while that our shortage of rail operators was a vulnerability, and we have incorporated that knowledge into our plans to open the new T Third on January 7. Unfortunately, the issue came to a head sooner than we’d expected, but our plans for January 7 should not be affected. 

Rail controllers cannot work remotely. They must be on site to ensure the safe movement of trains and to provide continuous support to rail operators.