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Muni bumps service to Chinatown for Lunar New Year

With the Lunar New Year approaching on February 1, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is preparing for people to head to Chinatown to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.

Several Lunar New Year events will take place over the next several weeks in The City, including the Chinese New Year Flower Market on Jan. 29-30 in Chinatown, and the Chinese New Year Parade on February 19.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said Tuesday at the agency’s board meeting that supplemental service will be offered on the 8-Bayshore between Visitacion Valley and Broadway and on the 30-Stockton between Caltrain and North Point:

The SFMTA is looking forward to supporting the mobility and security needs of San Francisco’s API community as we celebrate the year of the tiger.”

The supplemental service will run from Jan. 26 to Feb. 6 to correspond with the preparations and celebrations for the Lunar New Year, Tumlin said.

He also thanked SFMTA board Director Sharon Lai for working with agency staff on developing the mobility and security needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Lai, in a emailed statement to SFBay, said it was necessary for the agency to fill service gaps, particularly on the 8 and 30, during the Lunar New Year festivities as part of Chinatown’s recovery:

The agency plays a critical role in connecting family and friends as well as facilitating access to our local economy. It is important to me that we are doing everything we can to support Chinatown’s merchant and resident community given the impact from the Central Subway and other MTA activities they have had on the neighborhood.”

She added that merchants in Chinatown rely heavily on revenue during the Lunar New Year festivities and that it was an opportunity for the SFMTA to promote and encourage people to take transit to Chinatown.

The SFMTA will also be placing its fare inspectors on Muni routes that serve the API communities and Chinatown as part of addressing safety for the community during the month of February, Tumlin said.

Lai, who has been on the receiving end of violence on transit, said the safety of riders and operators is a core issue that she has advocated for as a director on the board, including requesting an analysis on attacks against passengers and operators last year that showed gaps in a data collection and an increase in attacks on Asian operators.

She said the staff at the agency, along with the Police Department, are taking steps to improve the data collection, adding that having higher visibility of staff on Muni is effective in curbing assaults.

Lai told SFBay that she wants passengers to feel safe during the Lunar New Year activities:

“LNY (Lunar New Year) is a heavy cash carrying time for the Asian community and I have heard the community loud and clear of their anxiety in riding transit. MTA is stepping up to do our part in placing eyes on the routes to help our riders feel safer and to provide more service on routes to support the LNY festivities.”

Additionally, the SFMTA will open the Golden Gateway Garage on Clay Street, across from Embarcadero 2, on weekends as a pilot basis beginning Jan. 29 through the entire month of February, Tumlin said.

He said opening the garage will provide the public with access to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building as well serve as overflow parking for Chinatown.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce has scattered six life-sized tiger statues across The City to celebrate the Lunar New Year. They asked the public to join in on a contest to snap a photo of each statue and to post it on social media over the weekend.

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