End of the line for N-Judah-to-Caltrain 

In about six weeks, people who use the N-Judah — The City’s most popular metro train — will no longer be able to ride to the end of the line.

The Municipal Transportation Agency is cutting the N-Judah line off at the Embarcadero stop as of April 7. The train now runs from the Outer Sunset area to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets, which makes it popular with people who commute to the Peninsula.

Maggie Lynch, spokeswoman for the Department of Parking and Traffic, said the change is actually an effort to improve service to the Caltrain station. Riders will now be able to use the J-Church and the new T-Third line, once it’s at full operation, to get to their destination. They will just have to switch trains at the Embarcadero station.

"The N is a two-car train and the most heavily traveled line. We don’t need a two-car train to go to Caltrain," Lynch said. "The only time we need a two-car train is when we’re servicing to [AT&T Park]."

"There will be more frequency [to the Caltrain station] because there will be Js and Ts. Instead of having just one line that comes every 15 minutes, you’ll have two," she added.

Between 35,000 to 40,000 people ride the N-Judah each weekday, according to 2004 figures from the MTA. While some are taking a "wait and see" approach to the change, others are upset, saying it will drastically alter their commute schedule.

"First of all, that’s absurd," Jason Sanford, of San Francisco, said while waiting to catch the N-Judah to the Caltrain station last week. "There are so many people who ride the Caltrain to get to work. I have frequent engagements in the South Bay after work, and I have to catch the N to catch the bullet train."

The last CaltrainBaby Bullet express train that leaves The City on weekdays is at 6:30 p.m. Other trains operate until midnight.

Greg Dewar, who has been writing the N-Judah Chronicles blog since 2005, said turning inbound N-Judah trains around at the Embarcadero stop will likely improve outbound service.

"It’s frustrating sitting down there in the Powell Street station waiting for a car. You see a bunch of Ks and Ls go by, and they’re empty," he said. "Then the N comes, and it’s like taking a train in a Third World country where everyone is packed in to the ceiling."

Dewar, however, can also see how some commuters might feel.

"Any commuter going down to the Peninsula is not going to be too happy, because getting off and switching trains can be kind of a hassle," he said.

arocha@examiner.com

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