T-Third frustrations are widespread 

San Franciscans are not the only ones frustrated by the rocky start of the T-Third metro line: Peninsula residents who work in The City say their commutes have been disrupted, too.

About 75 San Mateo and Santa Clara county residents who transfer to Muni after disembarking from Caltrain at Fourth and King streets have signed an online petition, calling for Muni officials to hold a town-hall meeting by May 16 to answer questions about the T-Third’s troubles.

The Peninsula residents are saying Muni’s recent changes have created slower, less efficient service, as well as some dangerous conditions, for the people traveling to and from The City on a daily basis.

"We spend 40 to 50 hours a week in San Francisco, but we don’t have any representatives or supervisors," said Eric Svetcov, a Mountain View resident who authored the petition. "We’re disenfranchised."

Two weeks ago, San Francisco’s newest metro line, the T-Third, started carrying commuters full time. The line, which runs from Castro and Market streets to Bayshore Boulevard and Sunnydale Avenue, caused backups on four bus routes and two other metro lines, leading to systemwide delays that left riders stranded the first week.

Adding the T-Third line caused delays because it put more trains into the underground tunnel, which in turn clogged the entire light-rail system.

The Peninsula residents’ petition calls for more two-car trains to service the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets, additional train arrival and departure information and better on-time train performance.

The petitioners have asked Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director Nathaniel Ford to address the issues at a daytime meeting in downtown San Francisco by mid-May.

"I believe that there are plans to hold a town hall [meeting] … but I do not know that a date has yet been set," MTA spokeswoman Maggie Lynch said regarding the commuters’ request. "Things are still being coordinated."

Once in San Francisco, many Peninsula commuters used to catch an N-Judah train to get to work.

N-Judah trains, however, no longer service the Caltrain station, and riders now have to take the T-Third or J-Church.

Since those trains board at different places near the Caltrain station, problems have developed with commuters running between the platforms, across multiple lanes of traffic, trying to catch the train that arrives first.

To avoid this dangerous guessing game, Svetcov said the petition calls for better information regarding train arrival and departure at Fourth and King streets.

Peninsula commuters are also asking for two-car Muni train service at the Caltrain station. While N-Judahs are two-car trains, both the J-Church and T-Third lines typically use one-car trains.

"Single-car trains don’t make sense," said Svetcov, who has been commuting to San Francisco for about a year. "We leave people on the platform all the time."

The changes and delays have left some commuters fed up.

"I am going to stop purchasing a Muni Fast Pass because I find walking to be quicker and more reliable," said Andrew Hanna, a commuter from San Jose.

arocha@examiner.com

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