Muni riders should prepare themselves for the nightly shutdown of the Metro system between West Portal and Embarcadero stations, required so work can begin to replace the subway’s outdated radio system and blue light emergency phones.
The work will require the early shutdown of the subway seven nights a week at 10 p,m. until the start of service in the next morning for at least six months beginning July 31. Bus shuttles will run during the shutdown from the Embarcadero to St. Francis Circle, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The transit agency advises riders that subway service could end as early as 9:30 p.m., depending on where riders are trying to board the last train.
Impact of the shutdown will affect all of Muni’s subway routes. The SFMTA said it plans to complete the work by Jan. 2016.
Riders in the downtown area will need to catch bus shuttles on the island boarding area of the F-Market/Wharves line adjacent to the subway stations on Market Street for either inbound or outbound service.
Any riders in the West Portal area who need to head downtown will need to board bus shuttles at St. Francis Circle.
St. Francis Circle will also be transfer point for riders who need to continue their outbound trip on either the K-Ingleside, L-Taraval or M-Ocean View.
Regular rail service will continue to operate on outer stops, the transit agency said.
Inbound M-Ocean View trains from Balboa Park to St. Francis Circle will turn into outbound L-Taraval trains. Inbound L-Taraval trains from the zoo will turn into outbound M-Ocean View trains.
N-Judah and J-Church light rail service will switch back at Church Street and Duboce Avenue and Church and Market streets. To continue downtown riders will need to transfer to a bus shuttle at Market and Church streets.
SFBay reported in March that the project includes replacing 90 blue light emergency phones and adding new ones near the end of platforms, inside the tunnels and near high voltage areas. The transit agency said the new phones will help staff have better to access to emergency services in case of a natural disaster or medical emergency.
Muni’s analog radio system, which dates back to the 1970s, is also getting a major boost. The radio system is finally entering the 21st century by upgrading to a digital system. The SFMTA said the radio upgrade will increase the number of channels available from 11 to 26, improving communications between operators and staff.
The transit agency said it is doing both projects at the same time so that it can avoid multiple shutdowns for the subway.
The cost of the emergency phone replacement project is $9 million and the cost of the radio replacement project is $86 million, according to the SFMTA.
Once the work is complete, the transit agency said it plans to start another project in the Twin Peaks Tunnel between West Portal and Castro stations to replace rail tracks, which will also require closure of the subway. Details are still being worked out on those plans.
Riders can visit the SFMTA website to learn more about the July 31 late night shutdown of the subway and bus substitute service.