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Muni shuffles schedules, preps for Central Subway

Muni bus lines that serve neighborhoods with a high concentrated number of low-income households and people of color will get a boost in service starting in the summer.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors on Tuesday adopted its Muni Equity Strategy Report for the next two fiscal years, which focuses on improving Muni service in the Outer Mission/Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, the Bayview, the Mission, Western Addition, Tenderloin/South of Market and Chinatown neighborhoods.

The Oceanview/Ingleside neighborhood was recently added to the list of neighborhoods in the strategy report.

Improvements riders will see include 60-foot buses on the 9R-San Bruno Rapid and 30-Stockton, increasing the frequency of service on the 12-Folsom, 29-Sunset (all-day), 44 O’Shaughnessy (all-day) and 56-Rutland, and extending service to Ocean Beach on the 48-Quintara/24th Street during the midday.

The board also approved changes to realign the T-Third line to prepare for the opening of the Central Subway and approved increasing service on the N-Judah.

Central Subway will open by the end of 2019 and will no longer follow the same path as the K-Ingleside. Instead, the T will head towards Union Square and Market Street and finally ending in Chinatown.

With more new trains coming online for revenue service, the N-Judah will arrive every four minutes instead of seven during the peak period and could see longer trains in the future, said Sean Kennedy, Muni Forward program manager. Transit officials have been recently testing three-car trains at night.

Muni riders though can expect to see two-car T trains, according to the SFMTA staff report.

The agency expects to have 68 new Muni trains by the end of 2019.

Kennedy said all rail lines will at least have some increase in frequency due to the arrival of the Muni new trains.

While the N-Judah will see a higher frequency in service during the weekday peak period, Kennedy said the N-Judah will run one train instead of a two-car trains:

“Through analysis of our ridership as well as just observations, we think can handle the loads on the N with one-car train on the weekend.”

Kennedy reassured directors that the transit agency will run enough service during ballgames and special events. He added staff will observe the new changes and make adjustments as needed.

The service improvements to the bus routes are cost-neutral, said Kennedy.

A majority of funding for the bus improvements will come from a grant administered by Caltrans, but there will also be operational efficiencies to maintain the costs as neutral.

One of those operational changes does include only running one-car N-Judah trains on the weekend.

Other changes include reducing the frequency on the 1-California by half a minute, reducing frequency on the 30-Stockton by several minutes, reducing the frequency by one minute on the 41-Union.

Changes to add more service on the rail lines is contingent upon the board approving its two-year budget, which the board may approve at its April 3 meeting.

Implementing an increase in rail service because of the arrival of 68 new Muni trains will cost approximately $44 million a year, according to the staff report.

Peter Straus, a member of the San Francisco Riders Transit group, said he was skeptical of the change of reducing trains on the N-Judah on the weekend:

“That’s a step in the wrong direction and clearly that’s not something I think is even possible and even desirable.”

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