Get ready to lose or gain Muni service

There’s about to be a major divide in the satisfaction level among Muni riders.

The most dramatic overhaul to Muni’s bus and streetcar route system in 30 years is set to take effect in just 10 days and will include service reductions for some passengers and additions for others, Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday at a 38-Geary bus stop near Masonic Avenue.

“You’re either going to love this or you’re going to hate it,” Newsom said.

On Dec. 5, riders will see reductions of some kind to 37 of Muni’s 74 lines, including shorter routes, reduced frequency or slashed hours of operation said, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.

Those targeted for reductions had the lowest ridership, the agency said. Six lines will be nixed altogether, the agency said.

“We just don’t think there’s the ridership to justify the cost,” Newsom said.

To offset reductions, some of the busiest Muni lines will see more service, including a 15 percent capacity increase on the 38-Geary, which will run more frequently during peak hours, MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said. The 38-Geary “carries about 54,000 people daily,” making it “the most heavily utilized bus route west of the Mississippi,” Ford said.

Some bus stops will also be eliminated — a decision that has tended to be as controversial as the many route changes, Newsom said.

Tina Berhane, 28, of the Western Addition said the service reductions were unfair considering recent fare hikes.

“We’re already paying $55 [for a monthly pass],” she said. “It’s not easy. There should be more buses.”

Then again, Berhane said she was glad to learn that some of the busiest lines, including her 5-Fulton, will see increased service.

MTA directors voted in favor of the changes earlier this year to offset a $129 million deficit for this fiscal year, along with fare increases that took effect in July. Newsom on Tuesday blamed the millions in state cuts for the hardships on riders.

Adding to its money woes, the MTA recently announced a new $45 million deficit, which it plans to accommodate by laying off 110 employees and positions starting next month, and also eliminated 140 unfilled jobs. According to Newsom, the new deficit will not lead to more service reductions.

There will be enough operators to service the bus system after Dec. 5, Ford said.

However, the route changes may not be permanent. Officials will gather public comment on the new service changes for six months and may modify the system based on feedback, Newsom said.

The reductions and enhancements were guided by the Transit Effectiveness Project, which showed that 75 percent of all 700,000 daily Muni boardings occur on the 15 most heavily traveled lines.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

End of the line

Six bus routes will be discontinued after Dec. 5.

4-Sutter
7-Haight
20-Columbus
26-Valencia
53-Southern Heights
89-Laguna Honda

Source: SFMTA

Shift in commutes

Dec. 5 changes to Muni’s most-used lines:

N-Judah: Portioneliminated on weekends
38-Geary: Frequency increased during peak hours, hours expanded, portions eliminated oceanside
14L/14X-Mission:Frequency increased, hours expanded, stops combined
30-Stockton: Service hours reduced; no changes to 30X
1-California: Portion eliminated, hours reduced
9-San Bruno: 9X/9AX/9BX to become 8X/8AX/8BX and will include increased frequency, route modifications; 9L to be new route
29-Sunset: Portion eliminated, hours reduced
5-Fulton: Frequency increased, evening service extended
44-O’Shaughnessy: Frequency increased
47-Van Ness: Service hours reduced

For more information, visit www.sfmta.com/cms/m1209/dec09service.htm

Source: SFMTA

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