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Muni Looks For Ways To Carry More Riders Amid Building Boom

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Sharon-Chin_BIO-HEAD Sharon Chin
Sharon Chin is a general assignment reporter who also profiles...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — As San Francisco is in the midst of a building boom, transit officials said they are looking at two new ways to pack more people onto Muni Metro trains.

Elizabeth Horsch deals with the daily crush on the N-Judah line. “[It's] like a sardine can. You’re jam packed in there. You can barely find a spot to stand,” Horsch told KPIX 5.

Her downtown commute is likely getting even more crowded. A slew of new housing units are opening up from now through the beginning of next year.

Nearly 20 new buildings are rising, from the Lower Haight to Mission Bay, and from Downtown to the Dogpatch. More than 2,500 units will soon be available to buy or rent. Along a one mile stretch of Market Street alone, KPIX 5 found a half a dozen construction projects promising nearly 400 new condos and apartments in all.

“There’ll be longer delays at the Metro stops in advance of where I get on,” Horsch said.

But to fit San Francisco’s “transit-first” philosophy, there won’t be many garages for the new residents.

“San Francisco is a transit first city and has been for decades,” said Paul Rose of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, “It’s something that not only MTA takes seriously but City Hall takes seriously as well.”

Rose said most of the biggest improvements in the Upper Market corridor are still at least five years away. To speed up service in the meantime, Muni has tacked a third car to select downtown Metro trains to accommodate an extra 150 subway passengers.

“People who normally get passed up at a station would be able to get onto the three-car train to get them to their destination downtown,” Rose said.

Next month, Muni plans to experiment with “double-loading” on light rail, where back-to-back trains can load at the same time. “People don’t have to wait for the train to move out of the way to get into the platform area,” Rose said.

Some of the new housing units start above $700,000 for a 600 square foot space, and go into the millions for larger units.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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