Commuters sound off about Muni changes 

Although six weeks have passed since Muni’s T-Third metro line began weekday operation, commuters are still grumbling about transit changes they say are forcing people back into their cars.

The commuters aired concerns Wednesday at a town-hall style meeting called specifically to address concerns of Caltrain commuters who transfer to Muni at Fourth and King streets. Muni Executive Director Nathaniel Ford was responding to an online petition started by a Mountain View resident working in the Financial District.

Two weeks after the T-Third began operating seven days a week, Eric Svetcov realized his commute from the Peninsula to San Francisco was altered by the subsequent changes in service. He launched an online petition, which to date has been signed by more than 160 commuters.

Muni launched seven-day service for T-Third on April 9, and the $648 million rail line sent rippling effects throughout the system. Since the rocky start, commuters have been stranded for up to 50 minutes and massive complaints about the changes in other bus and rail lines have led Ford to admit that Muni is plagued by institutional troubles, including a systemwide shortage of drivers, overcrowded maintenance facilities and outdated equipment.

Thousands of people commute from the Peninsula to San Francisco each weekday, disembarking at the Caltrain Station at Fourth and King streets before transferring to a Muni bus or metro line. Concerns raised Wednesday ranged from missed connections to jampacked trains to dangerous platform conditions.

Before the T-Third, many Caltrain commuters transferred to a two-car N-Judah train once in San Francisco. However, the N-Judah no longer services the Caltrain station, and riders are forced to use T-Third or J-Church trains, which board at two separate platforms.

Svetcov said people are risking their lives by running between the T-Third and J-Church platforms, which are separated by about five lanes of traffic, to catch whichever train arrives first.

One man said taking the N-Judah away from the Caltrain Station was akin to shutting down the MacArthur Maze to drivers.

"I pretty much feel like I’m out of options. This is putting people in cars," said Darren Schreiber, another Muni rider.

Felisha Madaris, who lives in San Francisco and uses BART and Muni to commute to her job in Oakland, said she is no longer able to pick her son up from school on time. She used to take the 15-Third bus, but it was canceled after 67 years to make room for the new line.

Ford told the commuters Wednesday that officials did not expect the challenges stemming from the T-Third to be as great as they were. He did not site specific actions that would be made to give commuters some relief, but he did say changes were in the works.

"We are not getting you where you are going on time, and that’s the bottom line," he said.

arocha@examiner.com

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