Almost all of San Francisco's public transit will be shut down as the city gears up for an expected surge in coronavirus cases

Muni buses san francisco shelter in place coronavirus

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  • The majority of San Francisco's public transit lines are being shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Out of Muni's 68 bus lines, only 17 will be kept open for essential workers.
  • The change is due to over 40% of bus operators being expected to not come to work in the coming week and to instead stay at home as much of the city is already doing.
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Much of San Francisco's public transit system is being shut down as the city gears up for an expected surge in cases of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

Of the 68 bus routes that are part of the city's Muni system, only 17 will be kept open. The decision to shutter 51 public transportation lines is necessary as more than 40% of bus operators will stop coming into work to instead stay at home to help in curbing the spread of the virus, according to a post on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency website. Many of the operators have underlying conditions and are considered high-risk of contracting the virus.Advertisement

The 17 bus routes will focus on continuing to serve essential workers, such as healthcare workers and grocery workers, who cannot stay at home during the shelter-in-place order as others can.

"As a lifelong advocate of transit and director of the SFMTA, I never thought I'd say this, but please, if you have any other option getting around, please do not ride Muni," the agency's transportation director Jeffrey Tumlin said in a Monday news conference. The changes will go into full effect on Wednesday.

Public transit has remained open during the shelter-in-place order for those providing essential services. But since the coronavirus and its impact reached San Francisco in late February and early March, ridership on Muni as well as other transit systems, such as BART, have plummeted as workers have migrated to working remotely in their homes.
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Muni has reported an estimated weekly loss of $1 million since residents have been directed to stay in their homes to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. On March 26, Muni announced it was shuttering its train and light rail lines and replacing them with buses.

BART, the Bay Area's largest transit operator, has seen ridership drop and is losing an estimated $57 million a month in sales taxes, fares, advertising revenue, and parking fees.The SFMTA has taken other precautions amid the outbreak, like replacing the city's beloved cable cars with buses to provide operators with a closed cab. The open-air vehicles didn't have any such partition protecting operators from riders. Operators can also use their discretion and skip bus stops if they deem their vehicles too full of passengers to allow social distancing.Advertisement

Public transit ridership across the country has dropped, as The New York Times reports. Some transit stations in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have shuttered due to staff shortages, according to WTOP. Transit service in Boston has also been limited in response to the spread of the virus.

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