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.”


whites and Asians, so the SFBG doesn't consider them worthy of mention.

But then the T and the N are very long routes, and so it is obvious that not all trains will travel the entire route, since ridership will fall off at the extremity of the run, and it's more efficiently to run fully-loaded cars.

Some of us think the T should never have been built - a streetcar to nowhere.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

never plays the race card?

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

The Bayview is just as much "nowhere" as the outer Sunset and Richmond are.

Ultimately, the real problem is that we have light rail at grade. It's got to share the road with surface traffic, which means inevitable accidents with cars and inevitable pedestrian injuries. I know it's expensive to tunnel in earthquake country, but underground rail would have been the best long-run investment possible.

The system has a lot of inefficiencies in it. Just my gripe: Why does the 38-Geary have to stop at every street corner between Market and Van Ness?

Posted by Michael on May. 07, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

GGPark, and lots of great Asian food. Who goes to Bayview who doesn't live there/

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

You might learn something about a whole quadrant of San Francisco and the people who live there.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 07, 2013 @ 9:13 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 5:12 am

But you are a lost cause.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 8:03 am

I'll take your silence as consent.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:01 am

...until you give it a try.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

What is there that isn't elsewhere?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 5:56 am

The bayview is awful, you really want to never ever go there. Actually you probabaly don't want to set foot east of So Van Ness or south of 16th St. Really!

Posted by pete moss on May. 14, 2013 @ 7:17 am

Happy hour and tours at Speakeasy.

Heron's Head Park

Kayaking around the mouth of Islais Creek

Events at the Opera House

Shopping independent businesses on Third Street

Bayview Hill

Nearby is McLaren Park

Auntie April's Chicken and Waffles, as featured on Check Please! Bay Area

This is off the top of my head, and I don't even go there all that often.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 14, 2013 @ 8:54 am

GG Park is far superior to any of those recreation area's you stated.

Magnolia and 21st Amerdment are great brewpubs.

So no reason for me tot ake a long ride down there and, risk the area of SF with the worst crime stats.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 9:41 am

Guest, the point is that many San Franciscans from all neighborhoods avail themselves of the amenities of the southeast side of the city, including the people who live there. This isn't about you, it's about the rest of this community. And we deserve good public transit.

Yeah. I said it. Community. The c-word. I know you hate any word that begins in commun-, but there it is.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 14, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

You might meet some inconceivably wonderful people.

But you probably wouldn't want, nor need that; I'm guessing.

Posted by Matiero on May. 15, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

Michael, you've missed the point. It's not that the Bayview is nowhere, it's that the T provides significantly less service than the 15-Third Street that it replaced. Gone is the direct link from BVHP to City College. In its place, dubbed blingfrastructure by Tom Radulovich, is a flawed light rail line that was at capacity when it opened. Not only is the T at-grade, the MTA also disabled any signal priority meaning that the T gets stuck for minutes at a time at 4th and King.

The "central subway" is just as bad. To save money they're bringing the boring machines up and severely reducing the chance of any expansion. To save additional monies, they're also building short stations only capable of handling one car at a time... and planning to scale back bus service along the Stockton corridor.

Rail can be a big boon, just not when it's botched as badly as the MTA has managed to botch this.


Rose and Willy.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:51 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 5:49 am

Perhaps you haven't read the Final EIR or operating plan for the Central Subway, but when it is finished MUNI T-Line Light Rail trains will operate between Sunnydale and the Chinatown or North Beach Station - whichever becomes the end of the line.
Source: http://centralsubwaysf.com/content/faqs

Posted by InformedGuest on May. 13, 2013 @ 1:30 am

Not many, I suspect.

We will probably see a lot of Asians going south as far as CalTrain and UCSF though.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 5:56 am

Lucretia by any other name would still be a racist fuck.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 14, 2013 @ 7:24 am

Her comments have a ring of wit and hyperbole that this plainly racist Guest has never known.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 14, 2013 @ 8:51 am

lot of Asians, or that Bayview has a lot of blacks, be in any way racist?

Both those statements seem self-evidently true.

Oh, and BTW, the reason SFBG do not use IP addresses to identify postersd is because they change with every wi-fi zone.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 14, 2013 @ 9:34 am

Guest said he doubted many blacks from Bayview go to Chinatown. I'm not sure what that's even implying, but the tone was unmistakably racist.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 15, 2013 @ 7:13 am

I've spent a lot of time in ChinaTown and I rarely see any blacks there. I guess it doesn't interest them, in the same way that Bayview doesn't interest me.


Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 8:21 am

So you've just given up on a whole quadrant of the city as completely worthless, is that it?

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 7:38 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 5:57 am

But that doesn't make their people worthless, uninteresting, or not living vital lives. Get to know them, and find out that economically prosperous is not the same thing as worthwhile.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 14, 2013 @ 8:49 am

Hunter's Point that is uniquely interesting?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 9:40 am

I have been on the T many times and the train will stop to turn around long before the end of the line, even when all the cars are entirely full. I've called 311 numerous times to complain about this, as I live out on Third and Hollister. And, sure, we are a long way out, but we're still in San Francisco (a 7x7 city, right?) and even those of us out here in the boonies still need public transportation as much as anybody. Streetcar to nowhere? It's a streetcar to my home, and a vibrant community.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

Yes, the T needs improved speed and frequency. They need to work on transit priority, and reliability, but people do need to understand that those trains that say 22nd/23rd are only going that far. They'd be even more frustrated seeing these trains as out of service every day.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

The T was intended to be much shorter. Initially it was supposed to run from Castro Station to Sunnydale. Unfortunately the tens of millions of dollars invested in the Castro Station turnback didn't provide functional infrastructure. The delays created by turning the T back at Castro were so severe, it was decided that it was better to run the T from Balboa Park along the K line instead.

The T could have been fantastic were it not designed by the MTA.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

And run buses beyond there, as traffic density falls away.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 5:55 am

I've been hit by these, and I only live in Mission bay. The T-Third often just stops.

"Supervision is also told to only perform these turnarounds when there is another train within five minutes or less,”

This is a total 100% crock of shit. I've had T-thirds stop randomly at Mission Rock and say get off and the next train isn't for an hour. I walk, but I'm at the next stop, whereas some of these people are still miles from home.

Shameful lies.

Posted by A Mission Bay resident on May. 07, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

It's part of what goes into the decision of how far out of downtown to live and commute.

It's not a race thing.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 5:13 am

to be sure in mentally infirm and self-contradictory ways.

I suspect this POWER group is made up of the same chumps which were brought on board for the T-Third (Willie Brown/Nancy Pelosi/SF Gentrification) project by promises of jobs for the locals which largely never materialized.

The T-Third *has* been a failure and not because it is a "train to nowhere."

Read comments on this forum:


And Rebecca: the troll is correct who calls you out on reverse racism in regard to the "switchbacks." Why -- WHY? -- do you include the trains being taken out of service to go to the yard only on the T-Third line as "switchbacks," but have repeatedly refused to acknowledge that this sort of service disruption on the N-Judah is an equally sizeable problem on that line?

And why even buy into that MUNI response for a moment that without dumping trainloads full of people out before the end of the line that they would otherwise have to run cars "not in service" from the end of the line back to the yard? It is a semantic null and purely a judgement that the people who are thus inconvenienced are unworthy of consideration.

Once again: Muni is run in failure mode by intent. No car should fail to reach the destination advertised on its marquee unless it is a true emergency or unforseen circumstance.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2013 @ 7:48 am

Good morning lillipublicans. Thank you for reading. I encourage you to revisit SFBG's previous coverage on this issue. In particular, you might be interested in a post from 3/15/13, in which I reported:

"The top three affected stations in January were the T Third stop at Third Street and Carroll Avenue; the N Judah stop at Judah Street and Sunset Boulevard; and the J Church stop at Glen Park Station, in that order. While the January data provides only a snapshot, annual figures show an average of 36 switchbacks on the T and J lines per month since February of 2012, and an average of 49 per month on the N."

There is also an interactive map reflecting this data. Here is a link. http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/03/15/muni-switchbacks-disproportionat...

Posted by rebecca on May. 08, 2013 @ 10:29 am

(which of course mainly serves blacks) as opposed to the J (whites) and N (Asians) who are of course are second-class citizens under SFBG's weird reverse racism posturing.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:05 am

hard on you.

My complaint about your earilier story was that the problem of N-Judah trains being taken out of service at Fillmore was ignored. These are trains which are not being switched back for (ostensible) purposes of plugging gaps in the head elsewhere on the line, but for the same purpose acknowledged in this story regarding the T-Third.

Anybody who has a bit of experience riding the N-Judah has had this happen again and again. And the trains never advertise the fact that passengers are due for getting dumped there, at *all* hours, but perhaps most notably at the end of the night when the next option is a long wait for an Owl Service bus or a long walk.

Muni's passengers deserve the respect which would be shown by revealing the the conveyance's *true* destination on the marquee. This is almost never done on the N-Judah and though I have very little experience riding the T-Third, I imagine it's exactly the same in that case.

I say screw Muni's management who are intentionally running the system to the ground in preparation for a future date when it will be privatized. Screw the managers and the car-driving politicians which appoint them.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2013 @ 11:29 am

option of going back to the garage at Bilboa Park. That option isn't true of the T route. So trains taken out of service at Church and Market are either reversed to form an inboun D or an outbound J, or simply track back to base empty.

The implied racism here isn't by Muni but by SFBG, who choose to highlight switchbacks that affect blacks and the poor, but not switchbacks that affects whites and Asians, and the more affluent.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 5:54 am

Thanks. I'll just wait for some intelligent comment.... for instance someone who realizes that many Asians live in the the south east quadrant of the city... not that you'd know since you never have been there... or maybe they aren't the "right" kind of Asians for you?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 09, 2013 @ 7:10 am

And while no neighborhood is 100% any one race, there are clear affinities and correlations.

SF progressives hating on Asians is hardly new.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 8:01 am

Yes, they are, and they say that Visitacion Valley and other neighborhoods along the T are heavily Asian and Latino. I don't think the point of this article is about black people specifically, but that the city's poorest area is being screwed when it comes to needed regular public transportation. Again.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 15, 2013 @ 7:17 am

streetcar when there could not possibly have been an economic justification for it. It's called the "streetcar to nowhere" precisely because, unless you live there, you have no reason to ever go there.

So the point isn't that we've given them too little, but that we've given them too much by pandering to politically correct notions over fiscal prudence or sound traffic analysis.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 8:23 am

Now crawl back into your hole.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 8:42 am

But I guess you make everything about race, don't you?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 9:03 am

"Happens on the N as well but of course that is mostly
whites and Asians, so the SFBG doesn't consider them worthy of mention"

"If it affects the J, N and T then why focus only on the T
(which of course mainly serves blacks) as opposed to the J (whites) and N (Asians) who are of course are second-class citizens under SFBG's weird reverse racism posturing."

"How many blacks from Bayview visit ChinaTown?
Not many, I suspect."

May you die in the upcoming wage slave rebellion, massa.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 9:14 am

asians that was playing the race card. Pointing out when someone is playing the race card is not racist.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 9:47 am

Saying that there's nothing worthwhile in the Bayview, however, IS racist (and classist, of course).

Posted by Hortencia on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:28 am

How come nobody ever mentions SF Asians hating on progressives?

Posted by pete moss on May. 15, 2013 @ 9:16 am

picking on the race of progressives to try and undermine them?

I've seen nothing akin to, say, Greg's pathological hatred of Asians.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 9:48 am