SFMTA says it’s calling off Muni subway service on weekends and on weeknights starting at 9:30 p.m. for the next four weeks. The suspension begins Saturday, July 22, and will continue through August 20.
It’s all to give the city’s new train cars a chance to learn the ropes, or rather the rails in this case. Says the SFMTA blog:
“Five new train cars were delivered earlier this year and are being prepped to go into service. [...But] the new trains need to go through rigorous testing.”
That means driving back and forth through the tunnels sans passengers for hours. In fact, according to Hoodline it’s going to take 1,000 hours of test runs before the city deems the new vehicles in ship shape.
But Muni will not abandon commuters during off hours. Shuttle buses will run between Embarcadero Station (which remains to N-Judah and T-Third Street traffic) and St Francis Circle.
Trains will run as usual outside of the tunnels, and the weekend of August 11 through August 13 will feature full service during Outside Lands.
This first small batch of new trains arrived in January, the precursor to a planned fleet of 215 to be delivered over the next ten years. The manufacturer claims these modern coaches can go ten times as long without maintenance, and Muni hopes their lighter design will mean less wear and tear on rails and asphalt.