Muni to test more trains with new seat layout

Muni Metro riders will likely see a few more trains with the new seat configuration that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency began testing in May and June.

The transit agency began piloting the new seat configuration, which converted 14 double seats to single seats on one light-rail vehicle to address overcrowding and capacity issues. The SFMTA tested the train on the N-Judah and L-Taraval rail lines.

John Haley, director of transit, said riders could see more of these trains soon, but did say when or how many more trains would be converted to the new seat configuration.

Riders were given a chance to take an online survey on whether they liked the new seat configuration.

Haley said surprisingly that the new seat configuration received more negative feedback than expected, but said riders who gave the negative feedback had boarded near the line’s terminal. Riders who boarded at the often crowded Carl and Cole streets N-Judah stop favorably rated the Muni train with fewer seats.

He said it was hard to draw any conclusions from the responses the transit agency received during the initial pilot.

The transit agency is going take a broader approach in getting responses by putting a few more trains with the new seat configuration into service and surveying riders on the trains, said Haley.

The idea to add more standing room on rail cars came from Supervisors London Breed and Scott Wiener. Both said while the transit agency worked on replacing and expanding its rail fleet, the SFMTA needed to address the overcrowding issues on the Muni Metro happening now.

The transit agency took a major step last week to replace and expand Muni’s rail car fleet when its board of directors approved a $1.2 billion project to purchase up to 260 new rail cars. Those new trains will start to arrive in 2017.