Muni looks to improve J-Church service with evenly timed trains 

Passengers on the J-Church line could be getting more frequent service.

A suggestion to improve service along the light rail that runs from downtown through the Castro, Noe Valley and Mission Terrace neighborhoods to Balboa Park, was to set trains to come  every 10 minutes during peak hours.

According to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority’s transit director John Haley, increasing the intervals could increase the trains’ reliability.

Currently, J-Church lines are expected to arrive at any point along the 6-mile line between seven and 12 minutes. During peak times, Haley said, that interval can be confusing to riders.

“Say you miss the train that was supposed to come at seven minutes and the train that is scheduled for 12 minutes is late,” Haley said during a hearing Monday with the Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services committee. “The perception and the wait will be longer, but evenly spaced trains will give riders a better understanding of when a train is supposed to arrive.”

Haley said additional cars cannot be added because of the hills and tight turns the route takes.

J-Church’s reliability had a 78 percent on-time performance, according to Haley, which was frustrating to many users at the Monday hearing.

Haley hopes by improving the service, the number of times the train turns around at 30th street will decrease.

“It’s a tactic to adjust service,” he said. “I’d like the switch back number to be zero. But as a practical matter, it is not going to happen”

Though creating a 10-minute interval between trains was discussed, it will need to be approved by the SFMTA board before being implemented.

Haley also suggested allowing passengers to buy fares at local grocery stores to speed up the boarding process or create left-hand turning lanes for other Muni lines – including the 22-Fillmore – to exit the rails the J-Church runs on more quickly.

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