As students in The City head off for spring break, Muni is cutting service to adjust for the projected lower ridership.
Because students enrolled in the San Francisco Unified School District and at San Francisco State University will be on spring break from March 25 to March 29, Muni is projecting that its ridership levels will drop by nearly 20 percent.
The reduced service plan is part of a new strategy that Muni first tried during the holidays, when ridership is historically down. The transit agency reduced service on many commuter lines, saving Muni about $275,000.
For the last week of March, the agency is planning to reduce the frequency of its service on a dozen buses during the morning and evening commutes.
The service reduction won’t be as severe as during the holidays, and the agency projects to save just $45,000, a fraction of its $821 million operating budget.
Mario Tanev, spokesman for the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, a passenger advocacy group, questioned the agency’s decision at a time when it’s trying to attract more passengers.
“When they count pennies like this, it’s just more incentive for residents to drive their cars instead of taking public transit,” Tanev said.
Ron Austin, spokesman for the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators, said the service change will be a pay cut for the organization’s members, and also result in longer waits for passengers in outlying communities.
“We really did not agree with this when it came around during the holidays,” Austin said. “We’re advising passengers to let their voices be known if they don’t like the reduced service.”
Ed Reiskin, transportation director for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, said the March reduction will reduce overtime pay, achieve savings in fuel and maintenance costs, and provide a more efficient transit service.
Muni’s light-rail, cable car and historic streetcar lines will not be affected by the service reduction.
Depending on how well the plan works, the reduced service schedule could be duplicated for the entirety of summer, when school is out of session.
Along with the temporary service reduction, Muni will be making some permanent changes to its bus lines starting March 25. One morning trip will be eliminated on both the 80X-Gateway Express and the 82X-Levi Plaza Express lines. Also, several of the express routes that travel between the Financial District and outlying neighborhoods will have their schedules tweaked slightly.