Another Hearing on N/L Turnarounds and More on October 24th!

Tune your Wayback Machine to January of this year, and recall that Supervisor Carmen Chu held a pretty hard hitting hearing on Muni’s faiiures with regards to service west of 19th and in other “faraway” places (read not that far unless you’re some doofus hipster/downtowner/outoftowner type that gets all cranky if something’s not downtown).
Anyway, it seems Supervisor Chu has decided to do this thing called “holding people accountable” and will have another hearing on October 24th, at 10 PM, in Room 263 at City Hall. (That’s this upcoming Monday). You can imagine that there will likely again be some disinfo rehab necessary to decode what’s real and what’s not.
If you can’t make the meeting, you can always check it out on, or you can send in comments and questions to Supervisor Chu’s office online as well. I’ll have to likely cover it via cable tv as I’m busy that day, but just remember that the mainstream media is in full spin mode on behalf of certain people and factions within the city, so don’t expect much out of them at this point.
It would be interesting to see how many Mayoral candidates showed up, that’s for sure. Even more interesting – how many know what they’re talking about and how many are content to say one thing in one place and say another elsewhere.
We’ll see!

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8 Responses to Another Hearing on N/L Turnarounds and More on October 24th!

  1. Erik says:

    What is it here that requires a hearing? Isn’t turning around early already against policy? Just bust the driver back to bus washer or whatever every time people call in complaining about an early turnaround.

  2. Daniel says:

    @Erik: I can assure you that this is not about operators deciding on their own that they don’t want to drive all the way to the beach and then switching back early. The decisions to switch back trains at e.g. 19th Ave or Sunset Blvd is made by MUNI Central Control, the Line Management Center or Metro Rail Operations Inspectors like myself.
    @ Everyone: Trains are switched back as a way to restore service and provide even headways throughout the line. One could say that you sacrifice the convenience of a few patrons for the good of the whole metro system. Does it always work out perfectly – no – but we do what we can with the tools that are given to us.
    To minimize switchbacks we need: a train control system in the Market Street subway that doesn’t malfunction once an hour, every hour; SFPD and DPT making sure that people do not park their autos on MUNI tracks/drive their autos into MUNI right of ways and tunnels; patrons who doesn’t throw up/fight/vandalize/get sick on board our trains; proper maintenance of trains so that they don’t break down 10 times a day; and so on and so forth…
    (I could go on, but I need to go make some coffee…)
    Switching trains is a necessary part of managing a streetcar line. We try to keep it at a minimum, but it will always be there.

  3. Mark Ballew says:

    For what it is worth, I haven’t heard much at the CAC about this. The only action I’ve seen recommended is that trains that are doing turn around be labeled the headboard is doing so, which I think is quite fair to passengers.

  4. david vartanoff says:

    @Daniel, Yes short turns, when properly used, are a valid traditional transit strategy. Muni,however, has a long documented history of dumping fully loaded trains in the fog with the fabled “car right behind me” story. These are not a “few patrons” and as they know the next train will be a long wait.
    All of the issues you raise are true, but a relatively simple change in Muni operations offers a more rider friendly path to restoring service gaps. Dynamic reassignment of trains leaving Embarcadero WB to maintain service on each route cuts down crowding, long waits for whichever line is FUBAR, and reduces the need for short turns stranding riders.

  5. Daniel says:

    I don’t know what FUBAR means! LOL!
    The change you suggest would be ‘back to the future” as MUNI used to do it that way back in the long, long before. Going back to it would take some serious changing of how reliefs are made and how operators’ shifts are scheduled, but it’s nothing that can’t be done. I am certainly not opposed to more flexibility in line management.
    One issue, though, would be that some lines have 1-car trains and some have 2-
    car trains (or SHOULD have 2-car trains if we just had enough equipment). Sending a 2-car train over the J or K-lines is a waste as the second car will be out of service (due to the short street level platforms), and sending a 1-car train to the L or N means everyone won’t be able to get on that train. The T-line should be able to run with 2-car trains, but can’t coz the platforms on 3rd Street are just a few feet short of being able to safely accommodate a 2-car train. (I know, WTF!?!)
    (Also, the N could really use 3-car trains during rush hour, but I can’t see that happening anytime in the near future.)
    To end on a positive note: we did get new schedules this week and at first glance it seems like at least on the L-line the trains now have more recovery time at the outbound terminal in the evening commute. More recovery time = less switchbacks. Maybe there’s hope…

  6. david vartanoff says:

    @Daniel. First, thank you for a reasoned reply. Second as I read the Daily Service Reports, I am aware that there are often too few LRVs “fit for service” and frequent breakdowns on the road. Third, as to shifts/relief my plan includes “fallback staffing” Train is boarded at West cab by relieving operator at EMB. Train enters maze E of EMB. New operator takes over bringing train back into EMB. Old operator steps off–commences relief time (bathroom/snack/sit quietly…) At end of relief time old operator becomes new operator stepping on rear of arriving train. Rinse, repeat. All LRV shifts become time on/time off route as assigned/reassigned.
    Advantages, 1. operator relief time w/bathroom facilities, out of weather. 2. having new operator in rear cab leaving EMB EB should speed up reversing trains. 3. Having the flexibility to shift trains to fill gaps in the PM rush should reduce platform crowding as ALL destinations are served.
    Per your comments, IMMEDIATE program to correct platform deficiencies on T and K lines.
    Improvement on the N. This is the one line where I do favor Regular, Properly Signed, short turns. Using the crossover just East of Arguello, send a WB trai9n to the UCSF EB stop. Load and run EB. Requires an extra operator who boards at the x over, takes over at UCSF, leaving the previous operator to do the same for the next short N. Using cars to give inner N riders seats saves empty cars running to the Beach. both AM and PM.

  7. Russ says:

    What’s the difference between ground and air transportation? I scheduled Air Mobility Command several years ago and brought efficiency from 60% to over 90% and I cleared the backlog of cargo and passengers worldwide in the first 20 days. If I can do that with 400 airplanes at my disposal it should be a relatively simple matter for Muni to schedule something reliable while keeping delays in mind.

  8. Bob Davis says:

    I’m not sure Air Mobility Command experience is that transferable to rail transit. It reminds me of the old rhetorical question from the early 1970s: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we get him from one side of town to another at a speed faster than a Wells-Fargo stagecoach?” Airplanes move a lot faster than anything on the ground, and have three-dimensional mobility. Also, they travel long distances between stops, rather than every few hundred yards. And 400 airplanes is over twice the number of transportation units that Muni rail operations has even when most of the LRV’s are working.

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