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MUNI giveth, MUNI taketh away

Muni service expands but the agency says some recent cuts could be permanent

There’s good news and bad news for commuters who rely on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to get around the city.

Starting Aug. 22, a number of bus routes will be restored, have their routes extended, or have smaller buses replaced by larger ones, or all three. For example, the 30 Stockton route will extend to Crissy Field at Mason Street in the Presidio from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; at other times, it will end at Divisadero and Chestnut. This route will also see 60-foot buses replacing the current 40-foot vehicles, allowing more physical distancing by passengers (and fewer times when the bus driver has to pass up additional passengers because the vehicle has already reached its pandemic-level capacity).

Muni rail service will return as well, with changes. Some lines will be combined or have their routes changed, such as the L Taraval and K Ingleside, a newly combined line that will no longer enter the tunnel at West Portal; passengers can either transfer to the T and M subway line (another combined line) or ride the L/K new route to City College at Balboa Park Station.

This summer also saw SFMTA officials state that 40 of the bus lines it had cut during the pandemic won’t return for at least two years, and some of them might never return. 

Cable cars are also not likely to return until there is a vaccine for Covid-19.

With the agency facing a budget shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars, SFMTA says it might “be able to introduce some additional service changes in the fall, but looking further ahead, future service increases depend largely on additional revenue and the potential relaxation of Covid-19 distancing requirements.”

Muni says it has used the time during the Covid-19 partial shutdown of its services to good effect, reporting on its blog that “closing the Muni Metro subway in March allowed us to minimize risk to our front-line staff and the community and redirect custodial resources to other facilities. While the rail system was closed to customers, Muni was able to complete critical maintenance work to our vehicles and infrastructure.”

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