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Muni riders raise concerns over winter service proposals

San Francisco Muni riders expressed concern Tuesday over bus route proposals for early next year.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has been seeking feedback this month as they face tough decisions about what to do with all-day Muni bus routes that have not yet been restored, including the 2-Clement, 3-Jackson, 6-Haight/Parnassus, 10-Townsend, 21-Hayes, 28R-19th Avenue and 47-Van Ness.

The first proposal would restore service on all seven routes. A second proposal would only fully restore two routes and reallocate resources from the other five to improve service on other Muni lines. The third and final proposal includes a mixture of both options that would restore five of the seven routes.

No matter what happens, the 10 and 28R will return to service with different route configurations, and  the 43-Masonic will be extended with different options. A more refined proposal based on feedback is expected in October or November.

Directors on the SFMTA board were given a chance to review the proposals with staff and hear public comments. The board will ultimately decide which proposal to move forward with at its Dec. 7 meeting. The service changes will be effective in February 2022.

Many who called into the board meeting criticized the agency for its quick outreach process as well as some of the service proposals.

Cathy DeLuca, who works for the Community Living Campaign, an organization focused on better living for seniors and people with disabilities, said:

“Who is really being reached during that first month when the plans are most open? Not the seniors or folks with disabilities that I work with.”

DeLuca said she works with people who live in the Potrero Annex Terrace Housing Development, adding that the best way to reach those residents is to go door to door.

Other Muni riders who called in complained about current service inefficiencies. Some commenters called for full restoration of the 21 and a J-Church return to the subway. One District 7 resident wants the 6 to be returned, saying they live with a severe disability and find it challenging to ride the 52-Excelsior, which currently covers the portions of the 6 route in Golden Gate Heights neighborhood and 9th Avenue.

They said:

“I have to make it to UCSF Mount Zion weekly and I tried using the 52 to get there. There really isn’t an accessible way to get there.”

Cat Carter, the policy and communications director for the San Francisco Transit Riders, a transit advocacy group, said none of the three proposals adequately address the needs of riders, adding:

“While some proposals like the 49 rapid make sense, other proposals pit riders against riders when too many riders have already lived without their service for too long.”

City supervisors have also been vocal about the approach the SFMTA has taken in restoring Muni service.

Sean Kennedy, the agency’s transit planning manager, said to directors and the public that no Muni routes are being permanently cut and that the discussion is about how the agency should allocate resources as new staff is hired and trained.

He said:

“This is just a point in time, a step in the process of how we’re trying to recover from the Covid period and get the city back up and running.”

Transit officials said that they are currently hiring and training staff to accommodate a 10 percent service increase in the winter, bringing scheduled service hours from 75 percent to 85 percent.

SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said that once winter service changes are complete, staff will start crafting proposals for Muni service at 100 percent and 110 percent.

Tumlin also told reporters Monday that the agency continues to face transit and parking fee revenue shortages, adding:

“The SFMTA continues to face the worst public health and financial crisis in our agency’s nearly 110 year history.”

Tumlin said the agency is looking at possible sources of revenue in which city officials can all agree on and include as a ballot measure to be accepted or rejected by voters.

Muni riders can still participate in the online survey and read the three winter service proposals at the agency’s website. Riders can also call the agency at (415) 646-2005 to connect with a staff person who can answer questions, said Kate McCarthy, who serves as the public outreach and engagement manager for the agency.

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