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‘Failed equipment’ slows Central Subway service, checks underway

Operator training in Central Subway on Sept. 27, 2022 | Photo by Jeremy Menzies/San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

An issue with San Francisco’s new Central Subway that caused trains to move slowly for hours on Sunday is being scrutinized by transit officials.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employees identified a failed support cable at the crossover tracks near Chinatown-Rose Pak Station before the subway opened for service. The cable caused a misalignment of the sectionalizing breaker—an automatic switch—on the subway’s overhead power lines.

Crews “installed a temporary cable to return the trackway to service with a reduced speed,” SFMTA spokesperson Stephen Chun said.

Trains traveled one direction without Muni’s automated control system, and crews performed system tests until 11:30 a.m. Passengers were also warned to take alternative routes.

The transit agency was “still inspecting the failed equipment and all similar equipment in the Central Subway to evaluate the cause and any needed corrective action,” Chun said.

The $2 billion extension of the T-Third light rail line soft-opened on Nov. 19, enabling the transportation agency to train drivers and finalize construction fixes in preparation for its full opening on Jan. 7. The project is four years late and $375 million over budget.

Other issues that have challenged the new transit line include party cups used as drain pipes and faulty smoke detectors that set off the fire alarm.

The SFMTA is collecting feedback from riders during the soft launch period.