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Muni’s most delayed rail lines, by the numbers

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Photo by Pung/Shutterstock

On Tuesday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) acting Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum vowed to make the trains run on time—or, at least get closer to it—promising the city and riders that chronically tardy Muni light rail service will improve this year.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirschbaum has committed to a 10 percent reduction in systemwide delays and “to lower the number of times that riders are marooned for 20-minute stretches—or longer—to four per month.”

Kirschbaum’s promise comes after the release of a new round of data on Muni’s on-time performance, which is down significantly year over year.

In January of 2019, on average Muni vehicles (buses, light rails, cable cars) were on time—i.e., no more than four minutes late or one minute early—55 percent of the time, down from 58 percent in January of 2018.

Muni was more likely to be early than late in January, coming in early 25 percent of the time. Fourteen percent of arrivals qualified as “late,” while six percent were “very late.”

But that tune changes when isolating the rail data. Muni light rail and historic streetcar service was on time only 43 percent of the time in January, early 13 percent of the time, and late or very late 46 percent of the time.

From best to worst, here’s how every line kicked off 2019:

  • F-Market: On-time rating 54 percent. Late or very late 28 percent of the time.
  • L-Taraval: On-time rating 44 percent. Late or very late 44 percent of the time.
  • N-Judah: On-time rating 43 percent. Late or very late 49 percent of the time.
  • K/T-Ingleside/Third Street: On-time rating 40 percent. Late or very late 45 percent of the time.
  • E-Embracadero: On-time rating 36 percent. Late or very late 30 percent of the time.
  • J-Church: On-time rating 34 percent. Late or very late 56 percent of the time.
  • M-Ocean View: On-time rating 32 percent. Late or very late 57 percent of the time.
A cable car coming over a hill. Photo by crbellette/Shutterstock

The world-famous, historically-landmarked cable cars, which are measured separately from light rail service, are often the single least predictable mode of transit in the city. The last time public data was updated, the cable car system was on-time for only 10 percent of departures, and early 44 percent of the time.

However, that data is now one-year-old; the city hasn’t posted on-time ratings for cable cars since January of 2018.

Note that the overall public transit goal is an 85 percent on-time rating systemwide, as mandated by the city charter.