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Metro Access | Accessibility Features | Accessibility in the Subway | Tips for Metro Customers Who are Blind or Visually Impaired | Metro Underground Stations | Surface Metro Platforms | Boarding and Exiting a Train | Riding a Light Rail Vehicle

Metro Access

The Muni Metro light rail system features six lines: the J Church, K Ingleside, L Taraval, M Oceanview, N Judah and the T Third. These lines serve downtown and neighborhoods in the western and southeastern parts of San Francisco. All light rail vehicles (LRVs) that run on the Metro system are accessible.

Photograph of staircase to shared BART / Muni Metro subway station that shows the visual and tactile signage located adjacent to the top of the stairs and handrail.

Entrance to Embarcadero Muni Metro / BART Station

Metro Accessibility Features

  • Seats near the front and back doors flip up to create space for wheelchairs;
  • Intercoms inside the first door at each end of each car behind the operator’s cab that allow passengers to communicate with the operator;
  • On-board recorded voice announcements of upcoming station names when the train is in the underground. When doors open in the underground, the station, line and direction of travel are also announced;
  • Vehicle identification number plates with raised numbers and Braille near the door behind the operator compartment at each end of each car. You will need to know the vehicle number to report problems with equipment or service.

Photograph of accessible light rail vehicle identification plate showing the four digit vehicle identification number in large print, raised letter and Braille formats.

LRV Identification Number in Raised Letter and Braille

Metro stations between West Portal and The Embarcadero are underground. Downtown, the subway stations between Civic Center and The Embarcadero have a mezzanine and two platform levels, the upper one serving Muni and the lower one serving the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART).

In the outer neighborhoods, Muni trains run on the surface. Accessible surface stops are located at regular intervals and at major destinations like schools and hospitals. Most surface accessible stops have curb height boarding islands with wayside platforms that provide level boarding for customers who use wheelchairs and others who need level boarding due to a disability. To board at a wayside platform, go up the ramp to the wayside platform to wait for the light rail vehicle. When the train arrives, the train operator will position the vehicle so that you can board at the first door. As soon as you board let the operator know your destination stop, and whether you need help with the seats at a stationing area. Wheelchair users should proceed to the wheelchair stationing area, which is created by flipping up one of the first sets of aisle facing seats next to the door.

On the M-line, the accessible stop at Geneva and San Jose Avenue has a mechanical wayside lift that lifts customers to the level of the train floor for boarding and exiting. Wayside lifts are separated from the boarding island by a gate, and remain in the lowered position when not in use. To use a lift, go through the gate and wait for a train on the lift platform. Locate the control button (on your left when facing the train). When the LRV arrives, push and hold the up button to raise the lift. Press the button continuously or the lift will stop. If you are unable to press and hold the button, the train operator can raise and lower the lift from inside the train. Note that the lift will not operate until the train stops next to the platform.

The stations at San Francisco State University, Stonestown Shopping Center and on the new T Third Line have high platforms providing level boarding at all doors for all passengers.

Photograph of Muni customer with harnessed service animal waiting to enter Muni Metro subway via the elevator.  Service animal sits attentively as another customer with mobility disability exits the elevator using a walker.

Elevator Entrance to Metro Subway Station

Accessibility in the Subway

All underground stations are accessible by elevator. The street level elevators at each station are located on the north side of Market Street near a station entrance and are marked by a sign. The street elevator will take you to the station mezzanine, where separate station agent booths and fare gates for BART and for Muni are located. Signs will direct you to the elevator and to the Muni platform, which at these stations is located outside the Muni paid area. Passengers eligible to pay a discounted fare who do not have a pass or transfer must purchase proof of payment from a freestanding yellow ticket machine located on the mezzanine either at the street or platform elevator.

At Muni-only stations you must pass through a swing gate near the station agent booth to reach the platform elevator. Once you have passed through a fare gate you are in the paid area and must have proof of payment.

Note that at Castro Station and Church Station, there are two separate elevators inside the paid area, one to the inbound platform and one to the outbound platform.

Once on the Muni platform of a shared station, signs will direct you to the inbound or outbound side. Look for the red boarding area signs on the trackside walls (opposite the platform waiting area) that indicate where to wait for a train.

On the platform, overhead digital signs display the line name and/or destination of the train that is boarding as well as the next train pulling into the station. A recorded voice announces the predicted arrival time of the next three trains in the subway. Remote Infrared Audible Signs (RIAS) have been installed at Powell, Stonestown and San Francisco State stations, as well as on each platform on the Muni Metro Extension (MMX) and on the T-Third Line. RIAS provide navigational information through infrared beams. Customers can use a hand held receiver to “read” the messages which will help them with wayfinding and with locating important points along the path of travel. For more information contact Accessible Services (415.701.4485 | TTY 415.701.4730). Metro maps are installed on the trackside walls and tactile maps of the entire Muni system are located on the subway platforms at the inbound and outbound boarding areas.

Important: Wheelchair users and others who need level boarding due to a disability, and who are traveling from downtown to a destination on the J, K, L, M or N line MUST board the first door of the first car of the train. Wheelchair users can only exit from the first door of the first train on the surface because of the need to properly align the vehicle with a platform or lift. Be sure to let the operator know your destination stop in advance so he or she can properly position the train at the accessible platform.

Tips for Metro Customers Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Below are some suggestions to help people who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the Metro system, both underground and on the surface, and to familiarize them with the accessible features of light rail vehicles.

Metro Underground Stations

All underground station entrances are identified by Braille station name signs. To access an underground station, locate the escalator or stairs leading to the mezzanine level. To locate the fare gates it may be helpful to listen for the sound of other customers depositing fares or passing through the turn styles. To pay a discounted fare, use the fare gate closest to the agent booth. After paying your fare proceed to the platform level via stairs or an escalator. Cane users should use the constant cane technique when walking on the platform. Determine whether you are in a station with a center platform (tracks on either side) or side platforms (two platforms with tracks in between).

At the platform edge there is a two-foot strip of tactile tile with parallel rows of raised domes that are detectable with a cane and under foot. The yellow tile also contrasts in color from the adjacent platform. Stand behind the tactile tile when waiting for a train.

Center Platform Locations

  • Embarcadero
  • Montgomery
  • Powell
  • Civic Center
  • Van Ness

Side Platform Locations

  • Church
  • Castro
  • Forest Hill
  • West Portal

Automated announcements – In the underground stations (Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center, Van Ness, Church, Castro, Forest Hill and West Portal), a digital voice announcement system announces the route designation and arrival time of approaching and arriving trains.  When trains are underground there are also automated interior announcements of the station the train is pulling into.

Tactile maps – Maps of the Metro system with Braille and raised characters are installed on the mezzanine and platforms levels of underground stations.

Stairs and/or an escalator are located at each end of every downtown station. Inbound trains stop near the middle of the platform and outbound trains stop at the far end of the outbound platform. Locate the stairs closest to the train you have exited by following the sounds of other passengers. If there are no other passengers, wait until the train leaves the station and then walk parallel along the platform until you hear the escalators or feel the wall at the end of the platform then head away from the platform edge to locate the stairs. If you exit at a side platform, walk straight ahead to the wall and then trail along the wall to the stairs or escalators.

Surface Metro Platforms

Most surface stops consist of boarding islands with 6-inch high curbs located adjacent to the inbound or outbound tracks, either on the street or in a section of dedicated train right-of-way.

Many of the stops that are wheelchair accessible have a ramp and a small wayside platform for level boarding at one end of the boarding island. At a few locations, however, the wheelchair accessible platform is in the center of the island, with stairs on one side and a ramp on the other. At these stops ambulatory passengers exit the train onto the island, and then must travel up stairs, across the wayside platform and down a ramp to the other end of the island in order to reach the crosswalk.

There are islands configured with the platform in the middle located on the J and N lines at:


  • Church and 24th Street inbound


  • 19th Ave. & Judah Street inbound
  • 9th Ave. & Judah Street inbound

Customers with visual impairments should pay particular attention when boarding or alighting at one of these locations.

There are also a number of surface stops with high level platforms that provide level boarding for all customers. Like the downtown stations, all high level surface platforms have two-foot strips of tactile warning tile at their edges.

M OCEAN VIEW: Center Platform Locations

  • Stonestown
  • San Francisco State University

N JUDAH: Center Platform Locations

  • Embarcadero between Folsom & Harrison St
  • Embarcadero between Brannan & Townsend St
  • King Street between 2nd & 3rd Street
  • 4th Street & King Street

T THIRD: Center Platform Locations

  • 3rd Street between Hudson & Innes Ave
  • 3rd Street between Kirkwood & LaSalle Ave
  • 3rd Street between Oakdale & Palou Ave
  • 3rd Street between Revere & Shafter Ave
  • 3rd Street between Key & LeConte Ave
  • 3rd Street between Arleta & Blanken Ave
  • Bayshore Boulevard & Sunnydale Ave

T THIRD: Side Platform Locations

  • 3rd Street & Mission Rock Street
    (Mission Rock)
  • UCSF Mission Bay
  • Mariposa & 20th Street (Dogpatch)
  • 3rd Street & 23rd Street
  • 3rd Street & Marin Street
  • 3rd Street & Evans Ave
  • 3rd Street & Williams Ave
  • 3rd Street & Carrol Ave
  • 3rd Street & Gilman Ave

Important: On Third St., the side platforms are narrow and you should be particularly careful to stay behind the tactile edge tile when walking on a platform and waiting for a train.

Boarding and Exiting a Train

In the underground, inbound and outbound trains stop at designated points on the platform. Outbound trains stop at the far end of the outbound platform, and inbound trains board mid-platform.

When a train stops at downtown or high level surface stations, all train doors will open. Most cars are equipped with a chime that sounds in each doorway to help guide people with visual disabilities to the door opening. Listen to people entering and exiting the train to locate a door opening. If there are no auditory clues, trail along the train until you find a door opening. Passengers using canes can detect the small vehicle-to-platform gap and step over it. Caution: All light rail vehicles taper or narrow at each end, creating a larger vehicle-to-platform gap. When looking for a doorway, be sure to locate the floor of the train before stepping off the platform. Do not mistake the gap between the end of a car and the platform for the gap between the platform and the train doorway.

Metro car floors lower and fold into steps at the curbside doorways when the train leaves the tunnel so that passengers can board and exit at surface street level stops. A bell sounds when the steps are lowering to warn passengers to move away from the doors. The steps are raised when the train approaches a high level platform or reenters the tunnel.

At surface street and island stops, only the front door of the train will open, but boarding customers can open other doors by pushing buttons near the doors on the outside of the train.

Metro vehicles have push bars on both sides of each stairwell that activate the doors. At surface stops, step down into the stairwell and bump the bar to open the door.

Diagram of Muni Metro light rail train showing wheelchair securement areas and jump seats, emergency operator call buttons and doorways.

Light Rail Vehicle Seating Diagram

SFMTA Metro trains have two sections of “jump seats” and dedicated wheelchair seating areas at the front and rear doors. Vehicles are equipped with emergency operator call buttons located adjacent to the front and rear entrance doors and the operator compartment.

Riding a Light Rail Vehicle

Seating for seniors and people with disabilities is located immediately behind the train operator’s booth at both ends of the car. If you board through the center doors you may not be able to reach the priority seating before the train moves, particularly on a crowded car. Do not hesitate to ask another passenger for assistance to find a seat. Passengers traveling with guide dogs or other service animals may wish to sit in the first set of forward facing seats behind the operator. These seats provide a sufficient amount of space for even a very large dog guide to lie underneath the seat and ride safely without being in the aisle.

Photograph of woman standing on crowded Muni vehicle using overhead handhold.

Designated seating for seniors and people with disabilities

Every light rail car has a four digit identification number, followed by the letter A or B denoting the end of the vehicle. A metal plate with the identification number and letter in Braille and raised lettering is installed on the flat panel behind the operator compartments at each end of the car. The signs are located approximately 60 inches from the floor. Customers must provide the vehicle number in order to report problems with equipment or service.

All Metro vehicles are equipped with push button activated intercoms to allow customers to communicate with the train operator. The intercoms are located next to the door behind the operator compartment at each end of the car.

Map of Muni Metro Showing Accessible Stations



Continue to Chapter 4: Access to Muni Historic Streetcars

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