After two years of mostly abbreviated service, SF Muni lines are nearly all back and up and running at near pre-pandemic levels. And this weekend marks the return of Sunday night service until midnight, and the return of continuous J-Church service to Embarcadero.
The SFMTA last year proposed several possible options for how to restart bus and light-rail service, promising to restore most if not all lines by this spring.
Pre-pandemic, Muni served about 700,000 weekday riders. But for much of the past two years, the number of people using Muni has been a fraction of that, and has really only bounced back by about half. Still, as more people begin traveling downtown to offices again in the coming months, and as we return to a new normal, the SFMTA has been trying to readjust to riders' needs and respond to community feedback about train-service changes implemented in the last year — including complaints from J-Church riders about having to transfer at Church and Market.
The agency announced Tuesday that, starting Saturday, February 19th, Muni Metro service will have a brand-new schedule:
- Subway hours will be extended from 10:00 p.m. on Sundays to instead stay open until midnight, meaning the Metro will run from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 a.m. on weekends.
- The Metro buses and train service on the KT Ingleside-Third, M Oceanview, and N Judah lines will run 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. on Sundays.
- Owl service runs from midnight to 5:00 a.m., except for the L Taraval Owl, which has service starting at 10:00 p.m.
- The J Church is restarting service between Balboa Park and Embarcadero. Those trains will show up every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays and 12 to 15 minutes on weekends in an effort to minimize congestion in the downtown tunnels.
In the meantime, the agency says it fully recognizes that there have been gaps in service. The plan moving forward is to focus on essential services like hospitals, groceries, diverse workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods specially marked by the Muni Service Equity Strategy. The SFMTA also wants to prioritize service to Chinatown during the Lunar New Year.
The next step is to think about further expansion of service down the line. The SFMTA does not think that any added service is feasible right now, with the agency adding, “Because of the fallout from Omicron and an increasingly competitive job market, we had fewer trainees in our operator training classes in January and February than we had planned for. These were the trainees who were going to be supporting our added service.”
This summer, the SFMTA plans to bring back three routes that have been suspended since 2020, including the 2 Sutter, the 10 Townsend, and the 21 Hayes. Those may have modified routes, but transit planners are still working out the details.
You can find a list of what routes and stops are still affected by the pandemic here.