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Rare 3 Car N Spotted In The Wild! Also: Snowpocalypse SF 2011!

I spent all morning running errands downtown, so I took an F-line to Safeway on the way back. While awaiting the N at Church and Duboce, some of the preliminary work for this weekend's Construction Marathon was going on.

First, there was a 1 car N that sped by inbound, PACKED full of people. But next was an actual 3 car N, also going inbound right behind it (but not taking passengers).

This is a rather rare sighting, in fact in my entire time in San Francisco I can't recall ever seeing one (or if I did, those brain cells pushed the memory out to remember some Battlestar Galactica trivia). From what I've been told, 3 car N's (or any LRV line) were supposed to be more common during rush hour, etc. but they had trouble staying together, etc.

I have some notes about this from the article last year, but I'll be damned if I can find them. Hint: don't reorganize your filing system in such a way that everything is where it's supposed to be, and yet you still can't find anything quickly!

Also, this tweet about Snowpocalypse SF 2011 seems to be quite popular arount Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr...


I thought the problem was that the three car trains would blow out the substations in the subway. It's possibly also because of the signal system, which requires some matching of the cars of the train. Finding two cars that can work together is hard enough, and three cars is probably impossible.

Gee, and I thought those Breda cars were all alike, except that some have roll signs and some have electronic displays. For real fun, try hooking up three PE interurban cars, two of which were built in 1913. Of course they don't have any computerized anything, so that's a plus.

So, apart from various urban legends on why three car LRVs aren't seen, I'm pretty sure the real reason is:
A significant number of the surface stops can't accommodate a 3-car trainset and provide safe boarding locations for all cars (or not have the back end jut out into the intersection of the next block). This is why you pretty much never see 2-car J trains, and when you do, the rear car is out of service (as many J stops only have room enough to safely board/alight one car).

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