Muni cutting down on switchbacks, but passengers still complaining about practice 

  • Examiner file photo

The switchback and on-time performance issues that plagued Muni’s light-rail vehicles earlier this year are improving, but there are still concerns in The City’s western neighborhoods about the agency’s train service.

After dipping to 90 percent in April, Muni has improved its rate of scheduled performance deliveries to 95 percent as of August, according to a presentation made by the agency at a Board of Supervisors committee meeting.
Switchbacks — the practice of turning vehicles around before they reach their final destinations — have dropped from around 440 instances in June to roughly 260 in September. The practice is used to help clear up delays or traffic jams in other parts of the Muni system.

Muni officials said they would only deploy switchbacks if there was another train five minutes behind the vehicle turning around.

Despite the improvements, Supervisor Carmen Chu said she was still receiving complaints from residents in the Sunset District about Muni vehicles — like the L-Taraval and the N-Judah — conducting switchbacks that leave passengers stranded for much longer than five minutes.

John Haley, Muni’s transit director, said switchbacks account for less than 1 percent of service delivered by the agency. Still, he said the agency is in the midst of hiring more operators and fixing up broken vehicles to further cut down on switchbacks.

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