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San Francisco Muni riders can expect additional bus service and rail service to resume next month, transit officials shared last Thursday with Citizens Advisory Council.

Sean Kennedy, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s scheduling manager for Muni service, said the agency plans to add back rail and some bus service in mid-August:

“We are looking at a number of specific add backs that are really tied to both schools as well as what the city is anticipating opening up.”

Full route service will return on the 7-Haight/Noriega, 44-O’Shaughnessy, 45-Union/Stockton, 54-Felton and 67-Bernal Heights, Kennedy said.

Currently, the 7, 44 and 54 routes are running shortened routes, according to the agency.

Ching Wong/SfBay Muni buses in San Francisco, Calif.

Kennedy said the return of the 45 will hopefully relieve crowding along the Stockton Street corridor where the 30-Stockton is currently in service.

The 12-Pacific will extend service to Market Street and weekend bus service will return on the 28-19th Avenue and 54-Felton.

Additionally, the agency plans to increase the bus size on the 7, 30 and 49-Mission/Van Ness lines from 40-foot to 60-foot buses, Kennedy said.

Muni Metro Service Returns Mid-August

Kennedy said in addition to bringing back rail service next month, the agency is working with District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents the Bayview and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods, on a T-Third express bus that would run between District 10 and downtown.

He said the express bus would complement the T rail service, which will run every 10 minutes and will interline with the M-Oceanview rail line known as MT.

Other subway alignment changes announced by the SFMTA last month include eliminating the Duboce Portal J-Church entry at Church Street and Duboce Avenue. Instead, the J’s last transit stop will be at Market Street and passengers will need to transfer to the subway about a block away.

No changes are planned for the N-Judah.

The L-Taraval and K-Ingleside will be a combined route and will not enter the subway at West Portal station. Passengers wanting to get downtown will need to get off the LK at West Portal near Ulloa Street and walk to the station.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay An inbound L-Taraval makes it way to a transit stop at 19th Avenue and Travel Street where the SFMTA plans to add a concrete boarding island.

To address accessibility concerns for passengers unable to walk to the subway station, the agency said it is working on a temporary emergency transit zone at 15th and Market streets. The new zone would allow passengers on the J to use an existing accessible platform while staff works on permanent accessible boarding islands on Church and Market streets.

At West Portal station, the SFMTA is working on building an accessible boarding island at Ulloa Street between West Portal Avenue and Wawona Street for LK passengers to transfer to the subway.

SFMTA officials plan to run high-frequency three-car train shuttles through the subway between West Portal and Embarcadero stations. The newly formed MT rail line will run in the subway.

Kennedy said the new changes will free up space in the subway, especially at Embarcadero station where the agency has had to turn the J, L and M rail lines around.

With the new rail changes, transit staff would only need to turn the three-car shuttle trains around from the inbound to the outbound direction.

A new crossover installed inside the Twin Peaks Tunnel near West Portal station will allow agency staff to turn the shuttle trains around at that portion of the subway.

Kennedy said:

“The shuttle will not have to come out onto the street. It will stay within the portal itself and should drastically improve operations by reducing the number of trains that are trying to go into the tunnel at that portal.”

Kennedy said the agency will not immediately run three-car shuttle trains when rail service resumes due to a delay in the arrival of monitors for Muni’s new trains. Instead, two-car shuttle trains will run until the monitors arrive and are installed. The shuttle trains will run every seven minutes.

Ching Wong/SFBay A Muni light rail train stops at a red light on Judah Street in San Francisco. (Ching Wong/SFBay.ca)

In an agreement between the SFMTA and the labor union representing Muni operators, Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, the agency said they are working to install bigger monitors for operators. The monitors work as rear view mirrors on the new trains.

Covid-19 has delayed manufacturing of the new monitors and the agency does not expect them to arrive for several months, Kennedy said.

Covid-19 Impacts on Muni Service

Muni service has been hampered since mid-March when city officials issued a shelter-in-place order that only allowed essential travel.

Muni bus service was reduced to only 17 core routes, but the agency has slowly resumed some service as more businesses were permitted to reopen.

The loss of passenger revenue has put the agency in tight financial bind, which makes plans to restore more service after August look bleak, said SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin.

Tumlin has repeatedly said that the agency only anticipates adding back 70 percent of Muni scheduled service by 2021, which could lead to a loss of up 40 Muni lines unless city officials identify new funding options.

Limiting the number of passengers aboard transit vehicles will also affect future Muni service if restrictions are not lifted. In a blog posted on the agency’s website last week, Tumlin wrote:

“This means that even with 70% of service hours, our riders may feel like there is only 20 or 25 percent of our pre-COVID service available, because buses quickly reach their capacity limit.”

Tumlin warned that even if capacity limits are lifted, the agency will still not be able to return to full service due to an ongoing operator shortage. The agency has implemented a operator hiring freeze but is filling positions that become vacant.

Garrick Wong/SF San Francisco’s newest Muni trains get ready for a night of testing in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, July 21, 2017.

The director noted that the agency will look at ridership demands and prioritizing Muni service for people who rely on public transit most, particularly in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods with the least access to essential services.

More information about current Muni service available can be found on the agency’s website.

August Muni service updates will be presented to the SFMTA Board of Directors during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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