Metro trains could double up on platforms

Update: SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said that plans to hold a double berthing demonstration with the CPUC early Saturday morning will not happen until Dec. 13. Rose said that the transit agency will instead have another test run after Metro service shuts down for the night on Dec. 6 to give signal mechanics more time with the program and infrastructure. “We are hopeful that we will receive certification from CPUC soon after that to implement this feature into regular service,” said Rose. 

The long-awaited double berthing of trains at some of the Muni Metro station platforms could soon happen.

Double berthing would allow the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to have two sets of trains at a station platform to load and unload passengers, said Ed Reiskin, director of transportation.

Reiskin said Tuesday at the SFMTA’s board meeting that riders could see change in the subway as early as Dec. 13 as a:

“… small significant change for those who are sometime frustratingly looking at the platform that we don’t let them disembark onto.”

The transit agency though will still need to get the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission before it can proceed with double berthing, said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. The CPUC regulates rail systems in the state.

Transit officials will hold a live demonstration for the commission this Saturday around 1 a.m. after the subway shuts down for the night, said Rose.

Currently, subway riders have to wait for the train ahead of them to leave the station before the second train can unload and load passengers.

Subway stations like Civic Center, Montgomery and Powell support double-berthing because of the length of the station platforms, especially if consecutive two-car trains arrive.

Reiskin said that though trains will open its doors in the second position, trains will also still stop in the first position at the station platform.

If the CPUC allows the transit agency to use double berthing, Reiskin said that the SFMTA will post signage to inform riders about the changes and have ambassadors out on station platforms to explain the changes.

The transit agency has been testing double berthing for years that included different start times on when it would start. Problems with upgrading the train control software and platform announcements had delayed the SFMTA from implementing double berthing sooner.