Muni improves light-rail performance, cuts delay times, SFMTA says 

Muni has improved its overall light-rail service as a result of initiatives aimed at enhancing performance and reducing travel times for riders, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board members said at an annual workshop Tuesday.

On-time performance for light-rail vehicles increased from 47 percent in May to 51 percent in January, due primarily to more early arrivals and fewer late arrivals, the SFMTA’s Director of Transit John Haley said. The system also experienced an 8 percent decline in total hours of delay from 452 in May to 414 in December, with 75 percent of delays caused by vehicle mechanical issues.

The agency implemented initiatives in recent years to address major issues including operations, light-rail vehicle maintenance, infrastructure maintenance as well as technology and communications.

On the operations front, increased supervision and focus on improving rail turn-arounds resulted in nearly two minutes of savings at the Embarcadero station. The three-car shuttle launched in October during commute times from The Embarcadero to West Portal also provided more seats for customers. In addition, failed entries into a subway were down 50 percent, an improvement “we’re particularly proud of,” Haley said.

Seventy-four cars have been completed under a vehicle rehabilitation program that has allowed for significant reductions in troubleshooting and subsequent repairs, Haley said. The agency has finished 13 campaigns to improve reliability and safety, including replacing brake communication boards on all cars.

Other efforts involve modernizing light rail vehicles, with the purchase of 175 cars out to bid and slated to arrive in late 2016.

“We are using a lifecycle cost,” Haley said. “We’re not going to judge submissions just on the cost but also see how much it’s going to cost to maintain cars through its life, so that’s a new concept for us.”

Infrastructure initiatives included improving signals on Third Street and the intersection at Fourth and King streets, allowing trains to load and unload passengers at the platforms simultaneously, upgrading the train control system and replacing rail tracks.

Regarding technology and communications improvements, Haley noted the agency’s Twitter account @sfmta_muni has gained more than 18,000 followers in less than two years and helped inform the public about delays.

“While we may not have the same number of followers as Madonna, we’re providing a real service because there’s communication going on there,” he said.

SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin noted that the agency recently added 15 people to the training division and there will be a hiring surge for the next 18 months to prepare for the system’s expansion.

“We have, I think, a much better-designed, sustainable effort that will start to turn the corner,” he said.

Light rail on-time performance


May: 47.4%

June: 46.8%

July: 47.2%

Aug: 47.2%

Sept: 47.1%

Oct; 49.8%

Nov: 50.3%

Dec: 50.4%

Jan 2014: 50.7%

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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