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Coronavirus Update: San Francisco Muni Facing Questions About Crowded Buses Amid Social Distancing Requirements

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco Muni officials were facing questions over an image of bus passengers crowded shoulder-to-shoulder during the coronavirus public health emergency requiring physical distancing.

The image, taken at around 12:15 p.m. on the outbound 38 Geary, shows passengers crowded in standing-room only conditions. It appears many of the passenger are elderly, and most are wearing masks.

crowded muni
People are seen crowded on San Francisco Muni's 38 Geary line, April 7, 2020. (Phil Shinikai/Facebook)

The 38 Geary is one of the few Muni routes still operating, as the agency has cut the number of routes to 17 of most essential routes.

"People in the Richmond, Western Addition and Tenderloin who need east-west transport for work, to get medical care, to get senior services, to buy groceries, etc. are all forced onto one bus line resulting in this kind of shoulder to shoulder standing room only crowding I photographed today," said Phil Shinkai, the Muni passenger who submitted the photo. "This is a gross violation of CDC guidelines. Making matters even worse is the fact that most of the passengers are seniors who are at greater risk for infection and serious complications."

San Francisco Municipal Tranportation Agency (SFMTA) spokeswoman Erica Kato said the situation happened during a time when the agency was rolling out the reduced service changes and was dealing with 40 percent of its operators being unavailable.

"We warned riders that unfortunately, Monday and Tuesday would see bad service with 40% of our operators out and us still inching toward the 17-line Essential Trips Network (which began [Wednesday]), said Kato. "Fortunately, today we did not experience what you see in the picture due to our modified service plan."

Muni says that while ridership has fallen significantly, the systems still serves approximately 100,000 passengers a day, and that the SFMTA has instituted strong health protections to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission on the system.

SFMTA Muni Covid-19 plan

The SFMTA said the 17 core routes that will remain in service, with some modifications, are:

L Taraval Bus
N Judah Bus
T Third Bus
1 California
8 Bayshore
9 San Bruno
14 Mission
14R Mission Rapid
19 Polk
22 Fillmore
24 Divisadero
25 Treasure Island
29 Sunset
38 Geary
38R Geary Rapid
44 O'Shaughnessy
49 Van Ness/Mission


More information on Muni service changes can be found at

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