Muni got called out Tuesday night after the supervisor who represents the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods found out that bus drivers were being siphoned away from the bus lines that service those neighborhoods in order to cover the new event-night shuttle routes for the Chase Center. Now the SFMTA is making some excuses and apologizing, and offering free rides today and tomorrow on several bus lines.
With Muni's ongoing driver shortage, the agency says that it had to take 11 drivers off of their regularly scheduled routes in order to cover the new 78X and 79X shuttle lines Tuesday night. In a blog post late Wednesday, the agency writes, "Muni planned to cover these runs with operators who sign up for voluntary overtime and the Warriors agreed to pay for this overtime. Unfortunately, so far, this has not yielded enough volunteers to cover the additional service."
Three of the buses that got canceled/diverted were on the 8-Bayshore line, servicing the Bayview neighborhood.
In a statement to the Examiner, Supervisor Shamann Walton said, "This is unacceptable, institutionally racist and we need to identify solutions that will not impact our residents’ commute home."
District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen backed up Walton's complaint via retweet, saying, "This is not OK!"
The SFMTA responded by referring to their Equity Strategy, saying, "Going forward, Muni is making a firm commitment to ensure that service generally and service specifically on the Muni Equity lines is not impacted by Chase Center event service." They add that 41 new transit operators are graduating from training on Friday and will be coming to work to ease the staffing shortage — and 200 new operators have been brought on board so far this year.
They also say, regarding Chase Center transit usage, "After the first week, Muni ridership numbers are exceeding all expectations."
To make up for the canceled buses on Tuesday, and anticipating the new drivers coming to work after Friday, Muni is offering free rides today and tomorrow, September 12 and 13, during the evening commute (5 p.m. to midnight) on the 38/38R Geary, 8/8AX/8BX Bayshore, and 19 Polk lines.
Meanwhile, Bon Iver plays the Chase Center tonight, and Elton John will be doing two shows there this weekend, on Friday and Sunday.
Photo: Stefan Klocek