San Francisco’s Muni Metro Subway was designed to accommodate four and five car trains. Since the 1997 introduction of new BREDA LRVs and the Automated Train Control System (ATCS), the Muni and now the SFMTA have refused to operate with more than two car trains, thereby reducing the carrying capacity of the subway and adjoining Twin Peaks and Sunset Tunnels to less than half their design capacity.
To be able to form at least three and four car trains the MTA would need to restore its previous ability to couple trains together at the West and Duboce portals. It was anticipated that with the incoming Siemen’s LRVs this essential capability would be possible. Last Fall BATWG, Save Muni and others began asking the MTA whether or not the new Siemens couplers had this capability. However, since the arrival and testing of 68 new Siemen’s LRVs, no attempt has been made to either answer our questions or demonstrate this capability.
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During the ensuing 5 months these questions have gone essentially unanswered. For this reason, on April 2, 2020, pursuant to the California Public Records Act, San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance and federal Freedom of Information Act (all of which require responses within 10 days), BATWG demanded answers to 12 questions about the couplers, their design, manufacture, testing and deployment.
April 13th: MTA informed us that we would receive its response by April 27th.
Early in May BATWG inquired about the status of the response
May 17th: MTA responded by requestimg that we narrow the scope of our questions, contending that what we asked for would take too much staff time
May 19th: BATWG submitted a foreshortened version of its original request limited to only the information needed to ascertain why the couplers were not being deployed and put to use in the anticipated manner
In early June BATWG inquired about the status of the response
July 7th: Still no response from the SFMTA.
At its July 16th meeting, BATWG will again discuss the effect that the MTA’s continuing inability to couple trains together at the portals is having on Muni Metro rail service, and how BATWG and other transit advocacy groups should respond to the situation.