SF State students are experiencing a change in their routines since the San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency, entered phase two of its metro improvement project on Jan. 29.
This change, which affects San Francisco's Municipal railway (Muni), will force students to cope with fewer trains and changing schedules.
The Metro Improvement Project, which began on Jan. 17, 2006, is an effort to replace the overhead wire system that powers the trains. The upgrade is important and, according to SFMTA’s Web site, will increase reliability and lower maintenance costs.
Monday’s change will move closed sections of track from the area between the Castro and Van Ness stations to the expanse between the West Portal and Castro stations.
It will also move the time of track closure back an hour, from 10 to 9 p.m. It is the final phase of the improvement project and is expected to run through early 2008.
But it is not an easy obstacle to ignore. SF State students, among others, must learn how to incorporate this change of routine into their daily lives. Considering that the closed section of track is now closer than ever, and shuts down an hour earlier than it did previously, it may take a little getting used to. This may be a challenge for students who are not used to public transportation, but others are familiar with the ongoing changes.
“Well, it’s been like this for a while,” said 20-year-old psychology major Nicole Madison, who uses Muni to get home from class. “The only difference is that it will be closing an hour earlier.”
This hour difference raises concern for students attending evening classes. Students said that they may be unable to get to the West Portal station by 9 p.m. and therefore miss their chance for an expedient ride home.
“I have a night class that lasts till 8:45 p.m.,” said Niko Volonakis, an undeclared 19-year-old sophomore. “There’s almost no way that I’ll be able to get to West Portal in time to catch a train.”
SFMTA public relations representative Kristen Holland ensured that Muni has considered the problems that may arise and will provide extra transportation for those who need it.
Holland said patrons who use the N-Judah and J-Church lines will have full access to their respective trains. In addition to this, shuttles leaving from the West Portal station will make stops at Castro, Church and Van Ness stations, providing inbound transport from West Portal after 9 p.m. These aids, in combination with an informative advertisement placed in a recent issue of The Golden Gate [X]press, are designed to ease the oncoming transition.
Holland did stress, however, that riders should arrive early because the West Portal and Castro stations will be closing at 9 p.m. and trains will be leaving approximately 10 minutes before that.
“If you’re there at 9 p.m., you won’t get a train,” she said. “They all leave before 9 p.m.”
Muni officials have taken further steps in their preparation for the shift in protocol. The railway sent out a memo to SF State’s department of parking and transportation, which is posted at http://www.sfsu.edu/~parking/ and will be posted in further campus memos.
Parking and transportation representative Patricia Tollar offered some advice to SF State students looking to beat the bewilderment.
“Students can take the M car to West Portal and use the buses,” Tollar said of the shuttles that will be provided and are supposed to run approximately every six minutes.
Tollar also emphasized that SF State offers another alternative in the form of its regular shuttle service to the Daily City BART station, which runs until 10 p.m.
“Students can go to the BART station instead,” she said.
For more information on how to decipher San Francisco’s municipal myriad, visit www.sfmta.com/metro or call (415) 673-MUNI for assistance with trip planning.