Muni to stop running nearly every route in SF — more than 70 lines

UPDATE: 11:09 p.m.: Sources within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said a list of remaining lines (after service cuts)...

UPDATE: 11:09 p.m.: Sources within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said a list of remaining lines (after service cuts) would likely be ready for the public on Monday. A list of remaining Muni lines circulating among SFMTA staff — sent by the agency’s director — shows 17 out of Muni’s 89 routes still running.

Those routes include the 1-California, 22-Fillmore, 38-Geary, 38R-Geary Rapid, 8-Bayshore, 14-Mission, 14R-Mission Rapid, 49-Van Ness-Mission, 9-San Bruno, 19-Polk, 24-Divisadero, 25-Treasure Island, 29-Sunset, 44-O’Shaugnessy, L-Taraval bus, N-Judah bus, and T-Third bus.

A previous update to this story at 8:30 p.m. identified the above list as a draft, but subsequent communications obtained from SFMTA show the list to be final as of Sunday night. Importantly, the agency warned the service list may change in the coming days.

The original story follows.

COVID-19 has claimed another victim: Muni.

From the Sunset to the Bayview, from Parkmerced to the Marina, Muni will cut service completely on roughly 70 routes — nearly every bus and train line it runs in San Francisco.

By Wednesday, just over a dozen of Muni’s most key lines will remain running.

That’s according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin, who briefed reporters Sunday afternoon.

And the service transition between Monday and Wednesday will also be rough with expected operator shortages, Tumlin warned.

“Tomorrow will be a disaster,” he said Sunday. “We will deliver the worst Muni service since 1906” after The City’s historic earthquake and fire.

The decision did not come lightly, according to SFMTA, and is a “risk management” measure to protect agency staff and the Muni riding public amid the coronavirus pandemic. Tumlin said the lines that remain running will have full service, instead of the long waits riders have experienced in March, in order to ensure social distancing is possible for the remaining Muni riders.

Tumlin said frequency is especially important because many remaining Muni riders are “essential” workers like hospital staff, or low-income workers who cannot afford to shelter at home and take time off work. For those who must remain outside, he said, Muni will ensure they are able to take transit safely.

“Our concern is our operators are safe and able to take care of their families, and that essential workers are able to work” by riding Muni, Tumlin said.

Five SFMTA staffers have contracted COVID-19 so far, Tumlin confirmed.

Muni has not yet released the list of which lines will be maintained, and was actively working on that list Sunday afternoon.

But which routes will be eliminated and which will remain will rely on several key factors, Tumlin said: Maintaining “adequate social distancing” on the highest-ridership lines, serving hospitals and needed merchant corridors, ensuring Muni riders have to walk “less than a mile” to their nearest Muni line, and maintaining service in San Francisco neighborhoods that rely on transit more than others.

That last provision can sometimes carry challenges. The Bayview, for instance, has high car ownership compared to the rest of The City, but also has a high population of Muni-dependent residents, Tumlin said. Some routes have been modified to maintain needed hospital service, like the 8-Bayshore, which was rerouted to better serve Chinese Hospital in Chinatown during Muni’s systemwide cutbacks.

Tumlin said SFMTA may re-evaluate which routes will run over the coming days.

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on transit service across the Bay Area, and decimated the farebox revenue of BART, ferries, and also Muni. In mid-March, SFMTA said it was losing $1 million weekly after Muni ridership plummeted.

On any given week, Muni sees roughly 700,000 daily rider trips. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership has dropped as much as 83 percent on some days, according to SFMTA.

Still, Tumlin said the service reduction was not a cost-saving measure, and that Muni operators would not be furloughed.

“All operators are being paid,” Tumlin said.

SFMTA is also encouraging its riders to board through bus back doors to keep adequate social distancing from Muni operators.

This is a breaking story and will be updated when more information is available. For detailed Muni ridership information please check SFMTA’s blog, here.

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