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Muni trains tie own terrible on-time record for 2019

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Subway passengers hurry up and wait

The front of a Muni light-rail train, blurred as it accelerates into a station stop. Photo via Shutterstock

According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s self-reported Muni report card, the combined light rail performance across the city has not managed a 50 percent on-time rating in 2019.

Most individual lines have not cracked the 50 percent marker for even a single month all year—with the only exceptions being the L-Taraval and N-Judah lines.

For all Muni light rail lines in August, the combined on-time rating (i.e., a train less than four minutes late and no more than one minute early) came in at 43 percent.

That’s pretty dismal, but it’s not the worst...by dint of the fact that two other months, April and January, had exactly as terrible a number.

The combined “late” or “very late” performance (“very late” being a train that arrives ten or more minutes after schedule) for August was 43 percent for the month. The only month all year worse than that was, again, January, which managed to hit 45 percent.

Here’s how each line broke down individually, from best to worst:

  • L-Taraval: On-time rating 53 percent, and late or very late 33 percent of the time. This ties the line’s previous best from April.
  • N-Judah: On-time rating 51 percent, arriving late or very late 37 percent of the time. The best all year was in June with 57 percent, which was also the best for any light-rail line citywide.
  • J-Church: On-time rating 45 percent, showing up late or very late 41 percent of the time. Best time for the year was in July, when it was 48 percent on time.
  • M-Ocean View: On-time rating 42 percent, and late or very late 44 percent of the time. The M’s best performance was July, with 45 percent.
  • F-Market: On-time rating 39 percent, showing up late or very late 48 percent of the time. This line’s best performance in the last 12 months was in February, with an on-time rating of 55 percent.
  • K/T-Ingleside/Third Street: On-time rating 35 percent, arriving late or very late 51 percent of the time. The best month here was in May, on time 49 percent of the time then.
  • E-Embarcadero: On-time rating 31 percent, showing up late or very late 45 percent of the time. This line’s best performance in the last 12 months was in April, with an on-time rating of 45 percent, but note that the E line didn’t run for several months in the spring.
  • S-Shuttle: The on-time rating for this special, subway-only line was just 13 percent in August, and was “very late” 46 percent of the time. However, the numbers for the S are artificially bad; Muni only deploys S trains at peak hours, when other lines are particularly backed up, or other times when emergency supplementary service seems necessary. The shuttle’s peak on-time rating this year was 24 percent.

It’s important to note that Muni did suspend regular train service in lieu of bus shuttles for two weeks in August, which may have affected these numbers.

For the record, Muni’s general on-time rating across all types of vehicles has been either 55 or 54 percent all year, so the agency is well capable of getting things right at least half the time.

But subway and light rail service continues to be the most glaring weakness in its lineup.