When Muni service starts up Saturday morning, riders can expect to see plenty of changes.
The shake-up, designed to make transit operations more efficient in The City, is the biggest change to the system in more than 30 years and will save the cash-strapped department $3.2 million annually.
More than 60 percent of transit lines will be changed, with some passengers seeing their normal lines expanded, decreased or eliminated entirely.
Six lines — including the 4-Sutter, 26-Valencia and 53-Southern Heights — will be discontinued. Nearly 40 of the transit agency’s lines will experience service reductions of some kind, and a handful of the busiest routes — including the 38-Geary, 14L-Mission and 5-Fulton — will receive service increases.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, has been on a campaign blitz to notify riders of the changes, including sending out 150 “transit ambassadors” to various Muni stops this week to inform the public about what’s happening.
The changes were prompted by a $129 million deficit the transit agency faced entering this fiscal year, and the $3.2 million in savings will come from reductions in operator costs, according to Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the transit agency.
Most of the service changes were influenced by the recently completed Transit Effectiveness Project, a study that evaluated ridership numbers and travel patterns, according to Ford.
The transit agency is currently facing a $47 million deficit this fiscal year, although it has identified revenue measures that should reduce that to $21.8 million.
The department still needs to reconcile the remaining deficit left by the end of this fiscal year in June, and Ford did not rule out further service reductions as a possibility to help balance the budget.
“We can’t ever avoid looking at service cuts, unfortunately,” he said. “We regret that, but we have to deal with the physics of financing.”
Information about the changes is available online at www.sfmta.com.