Transit officials quickly end Muni Metro double stopping trial

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Despite good intentions to improve the experience of its rush hour riders, San Francisco's Muni has suspended its so-called "double stopping" program which it announced just last week.

According to Muni, a computer bug needs to be fixed before twice as many people can get on and off trains at the busiest stations.

Double stopping, the practice of allowing two trains to stop and let passengers off in the station at the same time, began Sunday at the Montgomery, Powell and Civic Center stations, according to Muni officials.

At those three biggest and most heavily traveled stations, the long platforms can easily handle two trains at a time.

Last week, Muni announced that to better alleviate station congestion, it would begin allowing two trains to load and unload at the same time.

"Double stopping required us to reprogram the software that allowed those two trains to sit in position on the platform," said Muni spokesman Robert Lyles. The launch of double stopping followed extensive testing.

"They've been testing it for about one year and most of the testing has occurred over night Sunday, when double stopping launched or went live, it worked throughout the day," said Lyles.

But then things went awry. While the trains had no trouble at all, the problem was that the information provided on signs and the station audio systems weren't keeping up. The intermittent issues need to be repaired for numerous reasons.

"We, of course, deal with people with disabilities; we deal with a number of tourists. We also deal with people who are unfamiliar with the Muni system," said Lyles. That computer bug is essential for the hearing or sight impaired.

"That bug does not send the appropriate message out for the subway signs and the audible messages and, because those two work hand in hand, it was prudent to postpone double stopping until we can get the entire system working properly," explained Lyles.

Software engineers are working on the problem. When it is debugged, double tracking will go into effect at the three downtown stations before possibly expanding to others.