SFMTA announces transit improvements to support downtown commute

Work will add express transit service and improve station and bus stop cleanliness to support the City’s downtown economic recovery
November 16, 2022

San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed today announced the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) continues to make downtown transit improvements in efforts to accelerate the City’s economic recovery and support workers returning to the office. The SFMTA is dedicated to increasing ridership by adding service where Muni customers have provided critical feedback about crowding and wait times, upgrading Muni shelters and platforms, and partnering with our regional transit agencies to serve as many riders and counties as possible.

Improvements include:

  • Bringing back the 1X California to provide express service from Western neighborhoods to Downtown
  • Partnering with Golden Gate Transit to provide express service for riders who use the temporarily suspended 30X
  • Increasing cleaning at transit shelters and boarding platforms

“Reliable, efficient, and clean transit is a key part of our economic recovery, and we are working to increase service as we hire more operators for our system,” said Mayor London Breed. “We are also working with our regional partners like Golden Gate Transit to get creative about how we provide that critical service as we build our Muni system back. With the passage of Prop L, we are more confident than ever that we will have the resources and support to continue this work and get Muni moving better than ever.”

“San Franciscans deserve a high-quality transit system that gets them to where they need to go in a safe and reliable way,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “Bringing routes like the 1X California back online is an important step in the right direction. Continuing to provide service that is frequent, fast, safe, and predictable is absolutely essential to our economic recovery.”

Bringing back the 1X California: The SFMTA is bringing back the 1X California on a pilot basis for riders traveling from Western neighborhoods to downtown during commute hours. Service is planned for the morning and evening rush hours following the first operator graduating class of 2023. This is to ensure that the SFMTA has enough operators to service this line.

The route aims to be similar to the 1AX California and will be designed around the segment of the 1 California that needs more capacity to address crowding and pass-ups. The SFMTA began restoring express service in 2021 starting with routes serving essential workers in the Bayview (15 Third) and Visitacion Valley (8AX/BX).

Increased Cleaning at Shelters and Platforms: The SFMTA is moving forward a plan to increase cleaning of transit shelters across the city by 50% — going from two days a week at all locations to three. Boarding platforms will be cleaned five days a week, and the SFMTA will invest in refreshing shelters across the city after a full evaluation of their condition.

To accomplish this, the SFMTA is currently working to finalize and execute an amendment to its contract with Clear Channel. This will include full shelter replacement, glass replacement, other repairs and fixes and installing Muni’s new Next Generation Customer Information System (CIS), which shows real-time multilingual information with graphics, maps, destinations, and crowding information for vehicles with automatic passenger counters.

Expanded Partnership with Golden Gate Transit: Golden Gate Transit, SFMTA’s partner transit agency that provides regional bus service from the Sonoma and Marin counties and the city of Richmond into San Francisco, has stepped in to support San Francisco commuters who relied on the temporarily suspended 30X Marina Express and 41 Union. The first stop on Golden Gate Transit in San Francisco after the Golden Gate Bridge is along Lombard Street in the Marina District. Golden Gate Transit Routes 101, 130, and 150 then follow by Van Ness Avenue down onto Mission Street, ending at the Salesforce Transit Center. These Golden Gate Transit service fulfills similar connections for Muni riders as the temporarily suspended 30X Marina Express and 41 Union.

Golden Gate Transit’s travel times are similar to the 30X Marina Express and 41 Union, and the Van Ness Ave Bus Rapid Transit improvements have cut 4-5 minutes off of their travel time. To further the partnership, the SFMTA will be leading the installation of bus shelters at the Golden Gate Transit Lombard bus stops to make it easier for riders to know where to board the bus in the Marina. Customers should remember to “tag off” at their last stop on Golden Gate Transit, just like they do on BART and Caltrain.

“Golden Gate Transit is a proud partner of the SFMTA, serving transit riders traveling to, from, and within San Francisco,” said Denis Mulligan, General Manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. “Through our joint efforts, Golden Gate Transit and Muni provide important service that supports our region’s economic recovery.”

These new efforts build on the work that has been to improve Muni service as San Francisco recovers from the pandemic. In recent studies, the Muni system has already shown to greatly improve travel times and increased ridership and the SFMTA plans for additional service:

  • The SFMTA added 15 miles of transit lanes during the pandemic and Muni is now 15 – 20% faster through those corridors
  • Downtown 1 California travel times are up to 11% faster
  • Downtown 14 Mission travel times are up to 31% faster
  • 38 Geary travel times are up to 20% faster, and are running at pre-pandemic Express bus travel times
  • T Third 4th Street bridge travel times are up to 28% faster

Muni Metro's reliability has greatly improved with significant reductions in delays and travel time. From a recent study, the average monthly number of 20+ minute delays in the subway was reduced by 81% following the subway’s reopening in May 2021. This success is thanks to the SFMTA’s new trains and recent FixIt! Week. Up to 55 SFMTA crews completed over 2,200 hours of maintenance and inspections in the span of 63 work hours in the Muni Metro tunnels from West Portal to Embarcadero. Crews completed safety improvements, station and tunnel enhancements and deep cleaning, subway track and wayside equipment maintenance, traction power and overhead line upgrades including track work and pulley maintenance for the cable cars.

“Muni is faster and more reliable than it has been in decades, and it’s our lines with speed and reliability improvements whose ridership has come back the most quickly. Just look at the 49 Van Ness/Mission. Since the opening of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit corridor, ridership has been increasing, and it’s now higher than pre-pandemic levels. I really encourage anyone who hasn’t taken Muni for a while to get on a bus or train to downtown,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, Director of Transportation at the SFMTA.

Part of Mayor Breed’s economic recovery plan for Downtown includes improving and expanding connections to the downtown area through transit. This increased service will support that, along with other recent efforts including improving the experience at Downtown BART/Muni stations by adding station attendants and ambassadors in the surrounding areas. Read more about the different strategies to support downtown here.