All Muni light-rail lines will be replace with buses due to low ridership starting March 30. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Muni replacing subway service with buses, canceling ‘Rapid’ bus routes

Coronavirus leads to ridership drop and prompts cost cutting measures

Shuttle buses will replace all Muni metro and light rail lines in San Francisco starting March 30.

“Rapid” bus lines to downtown will also cease operating as coronavirus shelter-in-place orders spur ridership drops citywide.

That’s according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which announced the move Wednesday night as a bid to “redirect custodial resources” and perform “important maintenance work” to improve the condition of the metro system.

“It’s a unique opportunity to improve the state of good repair of our system and come out of this shutdown stronger than ever,” an SFMTA spokesperson wrote.

It’s also a response to a massive ridership drop, which has prompted SFMTA to seek emergency funding from federal, state, and local officials.

Some funding for the Bay Area is expected in a $2 billion federal stimulus package approved by the U.S. Senate this week, which is awaiting further approvals and is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump.

In the meantime, riders of the J, KT, L, M, and N lines will travel by bus shuttle, instead of trains. Muni Metro subway stations will be closed, except stations that also service BART trains during that agency’s operating hours. The new pickup stops mirror those of the “early morning” metro bus routes, which can be found here.

Other Muni routes will also change.

Muni rapid routes, including the 5R-Fulton Rapid, 9R-San Bruno Rapid, 28R-19th Avenue Rapid, and 38R-Geary Rapid will all cease operating on March 30 as well, SFMTA announced.

Local bus routes mirroring those Rapid routes will still run, but they make more stops and are generally less speedy.

Also beginning Saturday, April 4, the 47-Van Ness will be temporarily discontinued on Saturdays and Sundays, according to SFMTA. The 49-Van Ness route will be extended to Fisherman’s Wharf on weekends to make up for the 47’s stoppage.

In a statement, an SFMTA spokesperson wrote, “We are so grateful to our operators and our customers during this challenging time. Minimizing the risk of transmission for our operators and our riders is our top priority—in addition to the extra cleaning protocols we’ve implemented in recent weeks, we are requiring operators to always use their security partitions to minimize the risk of transmission to staff and the public.”

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