T-Third passengers unhappy about train service disruptions

Bayview residents who rely on the T-Third for transportation joined POWER in asking SFMTA to improve transit service.

Around 20 residents from San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood lined up at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting May 7 to voice complaints that all too often, the T-Third light rail transit vehicles leave passengers stranded on train platforms, taking rail cars out of service before the end of the line and leaving riders to wait for the next arrival.

Organized by People Organized to Win Employment Rights, an organization better known as POWER that has campaigned around Muni issues before, the riders asked the SFMTA board to address the T train turnarounds, and called on the transit agency to run all trains through to the end of the line in the city’s Southeast neighborhoods.

Muni service disruptions along the T-Third occur most frequently at 23rd and Third, Armstrong and Third, and Williams and Third, based on SFMTA data. The passengers expressed frustration that even though the T-Third technically runs all the way to Sunnydale, a Visitation Valley housing complex, it often stops short of the final destination and causes delays on an already lengthy commute. The topic of Muni “switchbacks” picked up momentum earlier this year after District 4 Sup. Katy Tang vowed to take up the issue of train turnarounds, which also impact transit passengers in the Sunset. 

Jackie Wysinger, who walks with a cane and resides at a senior center nearby Armstrong and Third streets, told SFMTA board members that she’s no longer able to drive and depends upon the T train to get around.

“We need better transportation,” Wysinger said. “The T train turns around right there, and they do it regularly,” leaving passengers with no choice but to walk or wait in discomfort. “It’s just bad on the senior citizens.”

Claudia Bustamante, a member of POWER who spoke in Spanish through a translator, related a story of traveling back to the Bayview on the T-third on Monday night. “We were on the T-train and there was a person in a wheelchair, and another woman crying,” she said. “But the driver said, ‘sorry, this is the last stop. Everybody has to get off.’ … They kicked us off. This happens not just to me, but to the members of the African American community in Bayview. And this needs to stop.”

Jim Hill, who told SFMTA board members that he’s lived in the Bayview for 51 years, said he’s experienced train service disruption at 23rd Street on a regular basis. “I don’t understand why a man would turn a train around that’s full of people,” he said. “I have experienced 45 minutes to an hour before another train comes.”

Hill added, “I don’t think a person should have to work all day, and have to stand up from the time they get off work, until they get home.”

Gloria Dean, a Bayview resident who penned an editorial in the San Francisco BayView newspaper in March, characterized the frequent disruptions to service in Bayview Hunters Point as “shameful racism” in her opinion piece. She recounted one evening when her commute from Oakland to Third and LaSalle took from 6:45pm until 9:08pm. Since her husband is battling health problems, “it’s important for me to get home” following her evening classes at Mills College in Oakland, Dean wrote.

Juana Teresa Tello, an organizer with POWER, stressed that while switchbacks are known to occur on other lines, Bayview residents tend to have fewer transportation options. “It’s the highest concentration of people in public housing,” Tello pointed out. “It’s people who need the transit system the most.”

There was no SFMTA agenda item on the topic of turnarounds on the T-Third line, so residents aired their grievances about the issue during public comment. Once they had all finished speaking, SFMTA board chair Tom Nolan indicated that the item should be added to the board meeting agenda “sometime in the near future.”

In response to a query submitted several weeks ago, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose sent the Bay Guardian a detailed response to questions about train turnarounds at the 23rd and Third stop.

“Trains going to 23rd Street on the T-Third are typically going to our maintenance yard located near 25th Street and Illinois at the end of their shift,” Rose explained in an email. “These trains are J, K, L, M, and N trains that travel in service as T-Third trains to the yard and accept passengers all the way to the last stop before the yard – 23rd Street. The alternative is to have the trains travel ‘not in service’ to the yard from the subway and accept no passengers.

“The vehicles returning to the yard and traveling from the subway only to 23rd Street add additional frequency between the subway and 23rd Street but are not scheduled full trips to Sunnydale,” Rose acknowledged.

The 23rd Street stop marks the end of a stretch of recently installed condominium complexes in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, an increasingly popular residential area for Silicon Valley commuters who have easy access to the highway to travel south to tech campuses.

Finally, Rose stressed that “We minimize unscheduled train turnarounds as much as possible … Supervision is also told to only perform these turnarounds when there is another train within five minutes or less,” he added, “to minimize passenger inconvenience.”


Even if most Progressives are middle-aged, pasty-faced (to use Tim's memorable phrase) white males with a beergut.

Posted by anon on May. 15, 2013 @ 9:50 am

by leaving you further out of the loop with every enlightened development -- such as Minnesota's recent legalization of gay marriage -- you remain hopelessly, inexorably, fucked.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:28 am
Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:55 am

...of a couple of prominent Asians who do.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:35 am

Muni is an equal opportunity abuser of riders without regard to race, class... As long as Rose and other flacks BS this will continue. Refusing to get off and preventing the operator from leaving the cab to throw the switch would get Muni's attention.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:34 am

This article is about the Muni metro T line.

Yet it talks about "the T-Third light rail transit vehicles." What does "light rail" have to do with anything? Nothing. If you were writing about BART, would you write about "heavy rail vehicles." No.

The word "metro" is no where to be found in the article and "muni" is the only keyword.

I sense that someone doesn't know the official name for our subway system here in San Francisco even though it's been in existence since the 1980s. It's called the Muni metro. The T line is part of the metro system. I suspect the writer of this article does not ride the metro---perhaps has a SUV?---since there are system maps inside all of the cars with the word "metro" on them like this:


Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

the-way is a kind of frou-frou bs term which is objectionable on that basis alone. Dianne Feinstein and her cronies putting on aires.

Metro signifies "subway." I have no idea whether Rebecca rides Muni or owns an SUV, but I've been a MUNI rider on-and-off for over thirty years and I feel perfectly justfied in calling it whatever I god damned want, myself -- LRV, light rail, *TRAIN* -- and if you don't like it you can go hang.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

from "metropolis", meaning city.

While "muni" is short for municipal, meaning that the transit system is run by the city, and not just for the city.

So the full name is "muni metro" (or "municipal metropolitan", if you like but that's clumsy). It's a service FOR a city and run BY that city.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 5:51 am

intended solely to crowd-out any intelligent discourse which might take place here.


anon. Is that you?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 09, 2013 @ 7:04 am

You strike me as the kind of guy who appreciates precision in discourse.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 8:00 am

Thank you. I'm glad you know what the system is called. Metro is the international term for subway systems whether they are entirely underground or also surface on occasion. As of May 2013, there are 188 metro systems in the world.

One can put the following words in their search engine and learn something from wikipedia:

List of metro systems

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

I take it you couldn't be bothered to click on the above link showing the Muni metro system (it's Muni's own metro map), of which the T line is a part.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

There is a car house on Illinois St. between 26th and Ceasar Chavez Sts., which is one block east of Third St. When southbound and northbound cars turn in to this house, their destination signs display 'Third and 23rd', or 'Third & Marin', respectively. Turn-ins are just that - turn-ins. The motorman's day is finished, and that car has to be driven back to the car house. This sort of thing is unavoidable.

On other occasions where line delays have occurred, inspectors or controllers will order trains to turn back to minimize service gaps in the opposite direction; they usually endeavour to verify that another car is following within three to five minutes. This is frequently annoying, but it is necessary to begin restoring the headway as soon as possible. This is not 'racism', it is the nature of the beast - a street railway.

Passengers should double-check the destination sign of the approaching car before they board it. If in doubt, ask the motorman; he or she will tell you what the car's final destination is. I'm going to be blunt here, many people don't pay attention to the trolley's destination sign at all.

Posted by The Motorman on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:42 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

Quite interesting. You seem to be revealing a presumption that the convenience of the "motorman" is of greater importance than that of Muni patrons. (So sorry to have to be so blunt here.)

Why, exactly, *do* the cars need to be taken out of service every time a shift ends? It's not like they are being cleaned, is it?

In general, I am a big supporter of labor, but Muni drivers ought to not be given parking -- and neither should the politicians who either directly or indirectly manage the system.

Perhaps (with the help of Marc Soloman's work on the CAC) Muni *has* gotten its act together with regard to having its cars' marqees properly advertise their intended destination -- it might be possible to simply berate riders for not "paying attention" when tired and amongst throngs on crowded platforms, they fail to observe the fine print -- but why are so many cars being turned out?

Muni should be operated for the convenience of its riders at all times.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 13, 2013 @ 4:33 am

Here is an idea to make ones ride easy. Why not have a placard or notice that the train is going to the 25th Street Yard, you ride the train with knowledge that is will end at 23rd Street.

Posted by Garrett on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:30 am

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