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Coronavirus Update: Major Changes Go Into Effect For Riders Using Muni, VTA

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- With ridership tumbling during the San Francisco Bay Area's current shelter-in-place order, San Francisco's Muni system and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority both deployed major changes to their operating schedules on Monday.

San Francisco Muni

On the SFMTA website, the agency offered details on the major service change that would find all Muni Metro and light rail routes being replaced by buses. Beginning on Monday, customers will use buses covering the J, KT, L, M, and N lines using the same bus stops as the early morning Metro bus service.

All Muni Metro subway stations will be closed except for downtown stations which will remain open to customers taking BART during their operating hours.

Officials said that in response to reduced ridership during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, the service adjustments would help the agency to focus resources on routes outside of the downtown area that are connecting people to essential jobs and services.

Closing the Muni Metro underground system will allow the agency to redirect custodial resources to higher-use facilities and minimize the risk to station agents, according to the agency's official release.

"From the onset, SFMTA teams moved quickly to secure supplies, encourage social distancing and make operational changes to minimize the risk of transmission and exposure to all our staff and the community," the agency said. "We also knew that once there were confirmed cases in San Francisco, it was inevitable that at some point at least one member of our staff would be directly affected."

While the rail system is closed to passengers, the SFMTA plans to do vital maintenance work on Muni vehicles and infrastructure. Officials said the closure will provide a unique opportunity to improve the state of repair of  the system.

The SFMTA will also temporarily discontinue several Muni Rapid routes. The 5R, 9R, 28R and 38R will stop running, though the 14R Mission Rapid will continue service. Riders are advised to use local service for all stops during all hours of service. The 5 Fulton and 9 San Bruno will run longer buses to help maintain social distancing for the health care providers, critical service workers and others still using public transit to get around the city.

The SFMTA also announced that the 47 Van Ness bus line will be temporarily discontinued on weekends beginning Saturday, April 4. The northern part of the 49 Van Ness route will be extended between North Point and Fisherman's Wharf to cover part of the 47 line on Saturdays and Sundays. More information on the service changes can be found on the SFMTA website.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

With ridership numbers down sharply amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the VTA was reducing service effective this week.

Beginning Monday, VTA will reduce light-rail service to two-car trains running every 30 minutes, with all bus and light-rail trips after 9 p.m. canceled except for Route 22, which goes between the Palo Alto and Eastridge transit centers and will continue to run 24 hours a day.

The actions are similar to ones taken by BART, which reduced its service hours to end at 9 p.m. last week. VTA's Express 181 route will operate to match BART's new schedule, offering service past 9 p.m.  to meet the last BART trains at the Warm Springs station.

The agency has also suspended all in-person service at its River Oaks office on North First Street in San Jose, as well as the Downtown Customer Service Center on West Santa Clara Street in San Jose.

All questions or concerns can be sent by phone at (408) 321-2300 or by email at from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays

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