Since you’ve been delving into the Muni Metro subway operation recently, here’s a bit of history:
BART had the Muni Metro tracks planned out…..with Muni’s full knowledge and involvement…and depicted on engineering drawings by the beginning of the 1970’s, so I don’t think BART was “flying blind”. Muni did have rail operating experts on staff at that time.
LT Klauder &Co. (now LTK) was approved as the City’s system designer in 1969, and completed the Muni Metro design by the mid-1970’s. Yet it’s taken 45 years for the alleged need for pocket tracks to surface. Other possible causes of the Muni operating problems: defective LRV’s, Muni’s uniquely inefficient short-train operation, weaknesses in Muni’s operating and maintenance programs.
As I recall there is already a pocket track just west of the Van Ness Station. And there is also train turnaround and storage capacity just east of the Embarcadero Station. In view of this, why would there be a need for extra turnback capacity at Byrant and Harrison? In fact, since Byrant and Harrison are close to the Embarcadero Station and since the tracks passing these two streets are at-grade, why do anything? And why on earth would adding an at-grade turnaround on one or both of these streets take seven years to implement?
Comparing the single-subway Muni Metro and its 140,000 riders a day with the Paris Metro or the vast NYC subway system that carries over 5.5 million riders a day, is a bit of a stretch.
“When those subways are built, they should incorporate the design lessons of the past”, Kirschbaum said.
Yes, like running actual trains in the subway like every other subway in the world does, rather than settling for low-capacity, one and two-car LRV consists.
The procurement specifications for the Muni Metro LRV’s were completed early in the 1970;s The decision to opt for high platform LRV’s was made before that time. BART and Muni fought over a number of points, but I don’t recall platform height as being one of them.
“The design flaw stems from hemming and hawing on Muni’s behalf”, he said.
Hemming and hawing over what? It would be nice to see a little specificity.
LT Klauder & Co. (LTK), was and is an experienced passenger rail design firm. Klauder was retained to design the system after the City and County of San Francisco had already made two fateful decisions: First it rejected the original proposal to run ten-car trains to State College with transfers to a J/N line at Church and to K/N and M/N lines at West Portal. Later City Hall decided that the riders of all five lines would have one seat-trips to downtown SF. Klauder therefore inherited the sticky proposition of merging five separate Muni lines into a single two-track Muni subway. The result was a coupled system featuring 4 and 5 car trains.
Two subsequent CCSF decisions, as ill-conceived as the first two, made things even more difficult. Because of objections from West Portal merchants (aided and abetted by downtown interests intent on using the $24.7 million in West Portal subway money to help build the Embarcadero Station), it was decided to eliminate the subways previously planned between the West Portal and the median of 19th Avenue for the M and the median of Junipero Serra for the K. This deletion eliminated any chance of holding to the careful timing needed to keep things on an even keel in the subway. And then, in the mid-1990’s, because of timing problems and allegedly insurmountable LRV coupling difficulties, it was decided to abandon the coupling operation all together, thereby cutting the length of the trains operating in the subway from Klauder’s four and five-car trains to one and two- car consists. This uniquely short-sighted decision left the Muni with two monumental operating problems. First and foremost it cut the peak-period carrying capacity of the subway by over 60%. Second it eliminated the flexibility that had been built into the original design, meaning that if anything went wrong anywhere, it would immediately tie up the entire subway operation. There’s more to this, but those are the highlights.
It’s easy to blame one’s predecessors when they’re not here to rebut you.
Gerald Cauthen P.E.
Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG)
510 208 5441