T-Third strands riders, clogs tunnel 

The new T-Third metro line is sending shockwaves throughout The City’s light-rail system, leaving frustrated commuters stranded for up to an hour.

The T-Third, which runs from Castro and Market streets to Bayshore Boulevard and Sunnydale Avenue, has been experiencing delays since going full-time Saturday, which officials said they expected.

The troubles, however, have not been isolated to the T-Third. Commuters who ride other metro lines, such as the N-Judah, J-Church and K-Ingleside, have been waiting up to 50 minutes at station platforms for their trains, which are getting backed up in the system’s underground corridor during morning and evening rush hours.

"It took us 45 minutes to get from the Sunset [district] to downtown because we got stuck at Church [Street]," Diana Hughes said, adding that she and her classmates have been late to class at UC Hastings College of the Law this week. "The T line is collectively ruining our lives."

Another Muni rider, Fred Kahrs, said he has been so frustrated by the delays on the N-Judah and the K-Ingleside that "it’s gotten to the point where I think I need to buy a car."

Other commuters have disembarked idling trains to use cabs, buses and other surface streetcars.

Church and Duboce streets, where trains enter and exit the underground tunnel, is one of the hot spots where major backups occur. Irwin Lum, president of The City’s Muni union, said the T-Third merges with the J-Church tracks near that intersection, which can delay the trains if timing is off.

If either the J-Church or the T-Third is off by three minutes, there can be a dilemma, Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said. His staff, he added, is working on synchronizing the lines.

Other trouble zones include Embarcadero Station, where most inbound trains turn around to head outbound, and the intersection at Fourth and King streets, where there is a lot of commuter traffic and the T-Third merges with the J-Church tracks a second time.

Ford and Mayor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said they were not surprised that the T-Third has affected the other lines, but gave no clear timeline for when light-rail trains would be back on time.

"The T-Third has stretched our resources," Newsom said. "It’s going to take time to phase it in."

Ford also said he is deploying additional supervisors, some who work desk jobs, to the frontlines to oversee the system’s hot spots.

arocha@examiner.com

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