SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), often referred to as MUNI, is currently facing financial difficulty as a result of historically low levels of ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals who would normally ride MUNI to work or school are instead staying home or using their cars to avoid public transit to prevent traveling on crowded buses.
The decrease in public transit for the SFMTA is looking at a projected revenue loss of $568 million over the next four years. MUNI officials’ decision to cancel a fare increase after receiving pressure from San Francisco Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Dean Preston did not assist in the financial matters, as raising the fare would have generated $16-17 million.
“By fiscal year 2023 we will have a problem that we cannot overcome without cutting service,” said Jonathan Rewers, Senior Manager of Budget, Financial Planning and Analyis during a meeting on June 30.
Beginning in April, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency started gradually bringing back service with a few lines reintroduced every month. In August, MUNI plans on reopening its subway along with more bus lines.
According to Amy Fowler, Public Information Officer for SF MUNI, San Francisco transportation planners know that due to fiscal losses, they will only provide 70 percent of service hours. Social distancing rules will force buses to carry only one-third of the number of passengers that they could carry before the pandemic. To help with this, MUNI is implementing transit lanes around the city. The transit lanes will allow buses to complete routes quicker, increase bus frequency, and ensure that more people will be moved while being physically distant from others.