Arriving soon: Three-car N-Judah trains

More crowd relief is coming to one of San Francisco’s busiest Muni Metro lines this year in the form of a three-car train.

The first three brand new Muni trains will be deployed to the N-Judah line, allowing transit officials to add a three-car train to help add capacity to the line.

The N-Judah continues to have problems with crowded trains during the rush hour commute despite the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s efforts during the last five years to relief crowding, most recently with transit officials adding the N-Judah two-car train shuttle last fall.

John Haley, director of transit for the SFMTA, said while the train shuttle was well received by Muni riders, but crowding still remains a problem:

“It’s the workhorse line.”

He added:

“There’s always a need for more service on the line.”

By having the first three new vehicles on the N-Judah, Haley said he can now add a three-car N-Judah train to the line using either the new trains or the current Breda trains. Passengers can expect to see a three-car train in service by the fall and run through the entire N-Judah route.

New Muni Metro photo gallery

The first new train arrived last month the Muni Metro East Rail facility with testing already underway and the transit agency expects the second train  to arrive in the third week of February from Sacramento where Siemens Industry Inc. is building the new trains.

Muni riders would probably appreciate the extra trains as weekday average boardings on the N-Judah rose by 9 percent from 45,100 in 2008 to 49,100 in 2016, according a report from the SFMTA.

Testing the new trains will play an important role in how quickly the trains are ready for service and how well they perform inside the subway when integrated with the Automatic Train Control System also known as ATCS, said Haley.

The California Public Utilities Commission will also need to certify the trains for safety before the trains can launch for service.

Muni riders may actually see a first glimpse of the new train being tested on the street in about two weeks.

Haley said the SFMTA will have nine trains by the end of the year and a second three-car N-Judah train is definitely not out of the question.

There are also plans to separate the KT line and make the T-Third a two-car train as more new trains arrive.

Haley said the main problem on the KT line is the running time and the travel time:

“The KT line is painfully long.”

Haley said the plan for the KT line in 2018 is in preparation for the Central Subway, which will connect the T-Third line to Chinatown and open for service in 2019.

Average weekday boardings on the KT line are on the rise as well from 32,400 in 2008 to 42,500 in 2016.

When the T-Third was first introduced in 2007, delays inside the subway, specially at the Castro crossover switch, caused transit officials at the time to combine the two lines, said Haley.

A 2007 San Francisco Chronicle article reported about the delays at the time.

One concern Haley had of separating the lines is with how the K-Ingleside trains would add to the number trains switching back at the Embarcadero also known as the Muni Metro Turnback. Haley said the plan to separate the lines is still being worked on.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors will hear Haley’s presentation at the board’s retreat meeting on Tuesday at the War Memorial Building inside the Green Room at 9 a.m.