J Church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

J Church
J Church logo.svg
J Church train in Dolores Park, May 2018.JPG
An inbound J Church train in Dolores Park in 2018
OwnerSan Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
LocaleSan Francisco, California
TypeLight rail/streetcar
SystemMuni Metro
Operator(s)San Francisco Municipal Railway
Rolling stockBreda LRV2/LRV3, Siemens LRV4
Daily ridership15,500 (2019)[1]: 47 
OpenedAugust 11, 1917 (1917-08-11)[2]
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead line600 V DC
Route diagram

N Judah T Third Street
Bay Area Rapid Transit to East Bay
J Church K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View turnback
San Francisco Ferry Building Bay Area Rapid Transit F Market & Wharves
Bay Area Rapid Transit F Market & Wharves
Union Square/​Market Street
Central Subway
Bay Area Rapid Transit F Market & Wharves
Civic Center
Bay Area Rapid Transit F Market & Wharves
Bay Area Rapid Transit to Balboa Park
Van Ness
F Market & Wharves
Market Street Subway
← Duboce Portal
← to surface tracks on
Market Street (closed 1982)
Church and Duboce
N Judah
Church and Market
F Market & Wharves
K Ingleside M Ocean View S Shuttle
Church and 16th Street
F Market & Wharves to/from yard
Church and 18th Street
Right Of Way/20th Street
Right Of Way/Liberty
Right Of Way/21st Street
Church and 22nd Street
Church and 24th Street
Church and Clipper
Church and 27th Street
Church and 29th/Day Streets
Church and 30th Street
Bay Area Rapid Transit to Civic Center
30th Street and Dolores
San Jose and Randall
Bernal Cut
San Jose/​Glen Park
San Jose and Santa Rosa
San Jose and Santa Ynez
San Jose and Ocean
K Ingleside to Church
Bay Area Rapid Transit to Glen Park
Balboa Park
Bay Area Rapid Transit
San Jose and Geneva M Ocean View
M Ocean View to Church
Muni lines
BART lines

The J Church is a hybrid light rail/streetcar line of the Muni Metro system in San Francisco, California. The line runs between Embarcadero station and Balboa Park station through Noe Valley. Opened on August 11, 1917, it is the oldest and has the lowest ridership of all of the Muni Metro lines.[1]: 21, 47 

Route description[edit]

J Church's private right-of-way over Dolores Heights in April 2005

The inbound terminal is at Embarcadero station. The line runs west through the Market Street subway to a portal on Duboce Avenue, before turning onto Church Street. The line continues south on Church Street to 18th Street. Between 18th and 20th Street, the line cuts through Dolores Park in a private right-of-way featuring a 9% grade, the steepest section of the Muni Metro system.[3] After crossing 20th Street, it cuts across the blocks east of Church, around a steep hill and returns to Church Street at 22nd Street in Noe Valley. The J then follows Church to 30th Street, then to San Jose Avenue and Geneva. Between Randall and Cotter Streets, there is a right-of-way in the middle of San Jose Avenue. At the end of the line, the J loops around the Metro yard at San Jose and Geneva, alongside Balboa Park station.


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the J Church begins service at 5 a.m. on weekdays, 6 a.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. Sundays and continues until 12:15 a.m. every night. Daytime headways are every 10 minutes, and 12 minutes on weekends.[4]

Unlike the other Muni Metro lines, there is not a corresponding overnight Owl bus during the hours that rail service is not running.

On weekends, the J Church Bus service runs from 5 a.m. until the start of rail service. The bus line largely follows the rail line, but it uses surface streets to parallel sections where the rail line has dedicated rights-of-way.[5] Separate early morning, the J Church Bus is not operated during the COVID-19 pandemic.


An outbound J Church PCC streetcar running through Dolores Park in February 1980

Track work on the J Church line was largely completed in 1916, and service from Church and 30th Street station to Market Street and Van Ness Avenue on August 11, 1917.[6][2] Service was extended along Van Ness Avenue to Pine Street on August 29, 1917; this extension was discontinued on May 31, 1918, with service extended along Market Street to the Ferry Building the next day.[7] The new Transbay Terminal became the inner terminus for every other streetcar on January 15, 1939, with all service routed there after January 1, 1941.[7]

As part of the creation of the Muni Metro system, it was partially converted to modern light rail operation in 1981 — the last line to do so.[8][9] While many streetcar lines were converted to bus lines after World War II, the J Church avoided this due to the private right-of-way it uses to climb the steepest grades on Church Street, between 18th Street and 22nd Street.[10]

Extension to Balboa Park[edit]

An outbound J Church car turns from 30th Street onto San Jose Avenue in 1993, two months after the start of all-day service on the extension south of 30th.

The outer end of the line was originally at Church and 30th Streets, where streetcars used a wye to turn around. Studies to extend the line from its southern terminus had been made in the 1920s[6] and 1970's.[11] In 1990–91, the tracks were extended to the Balboa Park BART station and the Metro Center (Muni light-rail maintenance and operations base), giving J-line cars a much shorter connection to the yard than previously. The extension opened on August 31, 1991, but the 2.3-mile (3.7 km) new section was initially used only by light rail cars starting or ending their runs;[12] all-day J-line service was not extended along the new tracks until June 19, 1993.[13][14]

This trackage was laid along the Bernal Cut, the former right-of-way of the San Francisco & San Jose Railroad.[6]

This extension of the J-line to the Metro Center now also provides vintage F Market cars a connection to the adjacent Cameron Beach Yard, where they are stored when not in service. Occasionally J-Church streetcars use the siding at 30th and Church as a terminus during rush hours, or during irregular operations.

The 19th Avenue Platform & Trackway Improvement Project originally included pocket tracks to allow J Church trains to continue past Balboa Park with service to Stonestown. Due to community backlash, the compromise plan did not include the facilities necessary to run joint J-M service.[8]

Later changes[edit]

An outbound train switching back towards Balboa Park Station from the Duboce terminal in December 2020

The line was temporarily through-routed with the surface section of the K Ingleside line from June 25 to August 24, 2018, due to the Twin Peaks Tunnel shutdown.[15]

Service modifications during COVID-19

On March 30, 2020, Muni Metro service was replaced with buses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[16] Rail service returned on August 22, 2020, with the routes reconfigured to improve reliability in the subway. J Church service ran only on the surface.[4] The J terminated at the inbound platform on Church Street at Market Street, requiring passengers to transfer between the J and subway trains.[17] A mini-high platform was to be constructed on the inbound platform at Church and Duboce, and an outbound mini-high platform will be built on Church Street south of Market Street, which was to allow the J to be re-extended slightly to Duboce Street (with additional transfer to the N Judah) in October 2020.[17] The forced transfer at Church station — which required J Church riders to cross two streets and use two elevators to transfer — was criticized by disability advocates and others.[18]

Rail service was re-replaced with buses on August 25 due to issues with malfunctioning overhead wire splices and the need to quarantine control center staff after a COVID-19 case.[19] J Church service on the surface-only Balboa Park–Church and Duboce routing resumed on December 19, 2020, while full service to Embarcadero station was restored on February 19, 2022.[20][21]

Future plans[edit]

In March 2014, Muni released details of the proposed implementation of their Transit Effectiveness Project (later rebranded MuniForward), which included a variety of changes for the J Church line intended to improve reliability and decrease travel times. The proposed changes included the removal of two stops (Liberty and Church and 30th Street), minor relocations of several other stops, construction of boarding islands and transit bulbs, and transit-only lanes on three blocks of Church Street, plus an increase in frequency from 9.5-minute headways to 8-minute headways during the morning peak.[22]

Most of the changes will be included in the proposed J Church Rapid Project. However, one element – dedicated transit/taxi lanes and left turn restrictions on Church Street between Duboce Avenue and 16th Street – was chosen for implementation as a pilot project to test its effectiveness. The red-painted dedicated center lanes (for use also by the 22-Fillmore bus) and turn restrictions were added in March 2013. The project proved to reduce travel time and improve reliability on both rail and bus, while not significantly increasing travel time in private automobiles.[23] Based on these positive results, the SFMTA Board made the changes permanent in June 2015.[24]

In November 2019, the SFMTA announced the J Church Improvement Project, which will make preliminary changes to the line while funding is sought for the full Rapid project. Church and 30th Street stop will be closed, safety modifications made to several stops, signage added to all stops, and a traffic light added at Cesar Chavez Street. A pilot program was to use a surface turnback on The Embarcadero in an effort to reduce terminal delays at Embarcadero station.[25]

With the completion of the proposed but unfunded M Ocean View subway, the J Church would be re-routed to connect with the M Ocean View at a new four-track subway station at SF State. The J line would enter a new portal on 19th Avenue near Monticello Street with a subway tunnel following approximately the current M line alignment between Monticello Street and Holloway Avenue along 19th Avenue.[26][27]

Staff members of the SFMTA are studying the possible use of historic street cars to provide a one-seat service on the J Church to Embarcadero using existing surface tracks on Market Street as an alternative to running the J Church in the subway tunnel.[28]

Station listing[edit]

Some stops have concrete boarding islands, while others require passengers to board from the street. Some stops have raised platforms for accessibility. While most other lines in the rail system can be run in two-car configurations, the J line is almost always run with a single car in order to accommodate the stops in the right-of-way, which are not long enough to have two light rail cars with open doors simultaneously.

Station/Stop Neighborhood Muni Metro lines Notes and major connections
Disabled access Embarcadero Financial District K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View N Judah S Shuttle T Third Street
Disabled access Montgomery K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View N Judah S Shuttle T Third Street
Disabled access Powell K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View N Judah S Shuttle T Third Street
Disabled access Civic Center/UN Plaza K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View N Judah S Shuttle T Third Street
Disabled access Van Ness K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View N Judah S Shuttle T Third Street
Disabled access Church and Duboce Duboce Triangle N Judah
Disabled access Church and Market K Ingleside L Taraval M Ocean View S Shuttle T Third Street
Church and 16th Street Castro Bus transport Muni: 21
Disabled access Church and 18th Street Bus transport Muni: 33
Right Of Way/20th Street Mission District (Located on Muni’s private right-of-way in Dolores Park)
Right Of Way/Liberty (Located on Muni's private right-of-way)
Right Of Way/21st Street Noe Valley (Located on Muni's private right-of-way)
Church and 22nd Street
Disabled access Church and 24th Street Bus transport Muni: 48
Church and Clipper
Church and 27th Street
Disabled access Church and 29th Street (inbound)
Disabled access Church and Day (outbound)
Church and 30th Street (inbound) Bus transport Muni: 24
30th Street and Dolores Bernal Heights Bus transport Muni: 24, 36
Disabled access San Jose and Randall Bus transport Muni: 14, 49
San Jose/​Glen Park Glen Park Bay Area Rapid Transit Bay Area Rapid Transit (at Glen Park)
Bus transport Muni: 23, 35, 36, 44, 52, 714
San Jose and Santa Rosa Balboa Park
San Jose and Santa Ynez
San Jose and Ocean Bus transport Muni: 29, 49
Disabled access Balboa Park K Ingleside M Ocean View


  1. ^ a b "Short Range Transit Plan: Fiscal Year 2019 - Fiscal Year 2030" (PDF). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. December 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Happy Centennial, J-Church". streetcar.org. Market Street Railway. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "General Information". San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Maguire, Mariana (September 30, 2021). "Late Night Metro and More J Church Service Starts October 2, 2021" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
  5. ^ Aguilar, Enrique (February 10, 2020). "Service Changes Coming February 22". (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency. Retrieved November 20, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b c Menzies, Jeremy. "Hooray for the J: 100 Years on the J Church". sfmta.com. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Stindt, Fred A. (October 1990). San Francisco's Century of Street Cars. p. 186. ISBN 0961546514.
  8. ^ a b Callwell, Robert (September 1999). "Transit in San Francisco: A Selected Chronology, 1850–1995" (PDF). San Francisco Municipal Railway.
  9. ^ McKane, John; Perles, Anthony (1982). Inside Muni: The Properties and Operations of the Municipal Railway of San Francisco. Glendale, CA (US): Interurban Press. pp. 189–190. ISBN 0-916374-49-1.
  10. ^ Perles, Anthony (1981). The People's Railway: The History of the Municipal Railway of San Francisco. Interurban Press. pp. 176, 181. ISBN 0916374424.
  11. ^ "Copy of Map of Possible J Church Line Connection to Ocean Division via Bernal Cut for Muni Metro". SFMTA Photography Department & Archive. February 29, 1972. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  12. ^ "World News [regular news section]". Modern Tramway. UK: Ian Allan Publishing. December 1991. p. 430. ISSN 0144-1655.
  13. ^ Springirth, Kenneth C. (2015). San Francisco's Magnificent Streetcars. Fonthill Media. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-63499-001-1.
  14. ^ "World News [regular news section]". Light Rail and Modern Tramway. UK: Ian Allan Publishing. September 1993. p. 249. ISSN 0964-9255.
  15. ^ "Twin Peaks Tunnel Improvements". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. June 25, 2018. Archived from the original on June 26, 2018.
  16. ^ Fowler, Amy (March 26, 2020). "Starting March 30: New Muni Service Changes" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
  17. ^ a b "J Church Transfer Improvements". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
  18. ^ Graf, Carly (August 18, 2020). "Muni 'improvements' could make things harder for seniors, disabled". San Francisco Examiner.
  19. ^ "Bus Substitution for All Rail Lines" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. August 25, 2020.
  20. ^ Maguire, Mariana (December 7, 2020). "Upcoming Muni Service Expansions Phase-in Rail Service, Add Bus Service" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
  21. ^ "Muni Service Changes Starting Saturday, February 19, 2022" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. February 2022.
  22. ^ "Chapter 3: Proposals by Route". Transit Effectiveness Project Implementation Workbook (PDF). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. March 24, 2014. pp. 52–56.
  23. ^ "Church Street Transit Lanes: Final Report" (PDF). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. February 2015.
  24. ^ Chin, Jerrold (June 3, 2015). "Church Street transit-only lanes become permanent". SFBay.
  25. ^ "J Church Project" (PDF). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. November 18, 2019.
  26. ^ "19th Avenue Re-design" (PDF). Sfmta.com. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  27. ^ "Rail Alignment and Stations" (PDF). Sfmta.com. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  28. ^ Maguire, Mariana (December 10, 2021). "Approved: 2022 Muni Service Plan" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata