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Agency plans summer Muni restorations, if Covid surge stays in check

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is inching closer to restoring most pre-pandemic Muni bus routes. The agency anticipates the next round of restoration will take place July 9, transit officials said Tuesday at the agency’s Board of Directors meeting.

Scot Tucker/SFBay An empty Taraval Street is seen while streets and business were closed as residents maintain a shelter in place order due to Covid-19 in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (Scot Tucker/SFBay.ca)

Sean Kennedy, a SFMTA transit planning manager, presented the board with the next round of Muni service restoration, which was approved back in December. An ongoing operator shortage and a surge in Covid-19 cases caused by the omicron variant delayed restoration that was supposed to begin in March.

In July, Muni passengers will finally see the return of the 6-Haight/Parnassus, 2-Sutter (formerly 2-Clement) and 21-Hayes. The three routes have not been in service since the pandemic began. Changes were made to existing routes, such as the 52-Excelsior and 66-Quintara, to cover portions of Inner Sunset and Golden Gate Heights neighborhoods. The 52 and 66 will return to pre-pandemic routes once the 6 returns to service.

While the 2 and 21 will return to service, both will be realigned. The 2, for example, will no longer serve Clement Street as it did before, and the 21 will no longer continue downtown once it reaches Civic Center. The 21 will also run weekend motorized buses instead of trolley buses to support the Hayes Valley Shared Spaces.

The 10-Townsend and 28R-19th Avenue, which were also scheduled to return, will not be part of the summer service changes but Kennedy said the two bus routes will eventually return, most likely in the fall.

The 3-Jackson and 47-Van Ness are still suspended.

The summer Muni service changes will also see the 43-Masonic return to its pre-pandemic route, serving the Presidio, Marina and Fort Mason. The 43 currently runs just short of entering the Presidio. The Presidio is expected to be busy this summer with the newly opened Battery Bluff Park and Tunnel Tops Park opening in July. 

Jerold Chinn/SFBay New picnic tables can been seen at the renovated Battery Bluff in the Presidio in San Francisco Calif., on Friday, April 22, 2022. (Jerold Chinn/SFBay)

Other route changes planned for July include extending the local 28 route to Fisherman’s Wharf, increasing frequency of the L-Taraval bus and restoring supplemental service on the 14R-Mission. The L will have its route shortened to end at West Portal.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said the agency is monitoring Covid cases for potential impact to operator availability. The City is currently seeing a surge in cases caused by omicron subvariants with an infection rate at 10 percent, according to the Department of Public Health.

Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum said the agency has the option of holding off on July service changes if the case surge reaches the January scale.

Beyond the summer changes, Kennedy said the agency plans to conduct another round of public outreach sometime in the early fall in order to identify passenger priorities going forward.

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