A Golden Gate Transit line 27 bus to San Anselmo leaves the Salesforce Transit Center. Commuter lines incluing the 27 will see reduced or eliminated service due to reduced ridership starting Sunday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Half of Golden Gate Transit commuter buses suspended starting Sunday

Some routes have had as few as one passenger at a time

Roughly half of the commuter bus service from Marin and Sonoma counties into San Francisco will be suspended starting Sunday in response to the plunge in demand from weekday rush hour passengers.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District has made a number of small adjustments to the bus service during the statewide stay-at-home order, but this is by far the largest change it’s made, according to spokesman Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz.

“This was done to right-size our bus service with low ridership while making sure that we’re providing enough service for people to social distance on our buses,” he said.

Service on some commuter lines will be completely suspended, while others will see reduced service.

The district’s commuter bus routes operate on weekdays during peak hours, bringing thousands of employees to and from The City daily. Many routes make fewer stops on their way across the bridge to expedite travel time and increase frequency.

When most offices closed, the routes from the North Bay into San Francisco experienced an approximately 90% decline in ridership almost overnight. As shelter-in-place restrictions have relaxed, ridership have inched up slowly, but most of the bounceback is concentrated along local regional routes. Cosulich-Schwartz said some commuter routes recently have run with just a single passenger.

Sunday’s changes include an expansion along “regional basic routes” that have seen increased ridership in recent weeks to ensure social distancing is possible and to mitigate impact in those areas where service will be temporarily suspended.

There’s no plan for when commuter routes might return, but Cosulich-Schwartz said the decision will be made based on close monitoring of ridership trends and community demand.

“We’re in such uncharted territory that we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

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