SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – Two San Francisco supervisors joined community members on Thursday to demand that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency bring back key two bus routes that were suspended at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and have yet to be brought back.
Both the 8AX and 8BX Bayshore Express bus lines ran during peak commute hours in the morning and evening, serving primarily working-class residents, including those of color, who live in the city's southern neighborhoods and work in places like Downtown San Francisco and Chinatown.
Without the two bus lines, residents in areas like Visitacion Valley, Excelsior, Portola, and Outer Mission have to take the 8-Bayshore bus to downtown and other nearby places, which is a significantly longer route than the express lines during commute hours.
"We have heard from many residents from Visitacion Valley that they want the 8AX and 8BX to return during the peak commute hours and we have elevated this issue to the SFMTA leadership every week at our bi-weekly meetings," Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton said in a statement. "The SFMTA has given us a timeline of the 8AX and 8BX returning this winter but now that has been delayed to March or April. This is unacceptable for a community that heavily relies on these lines to connect to Downtown and Chinatown and we are going to continue to fight to bring these lines back as soon as possible."
"The 8AX and 8BX are vital Muni lines for the Chinese community. Not only does it connect residents in Visitacion Valley and Chinatown, it runs through the heart of District 6 where many Chinese seniors live in affordable supportive housing," Supervisor Matt Haney said. "These busses are the only option for them to access grocery stores and services in Chinatown. If our transit restoration is centered around equity, then these two lines must be prioritized."
Co-Chair of Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project Queena Chen said, "Safe and reliable public transportation increases one's well-being by providing access to medical services, economic opportunities, and education opportunities. To ensure the wellbeing of the residents in the Southeastern neighborhoods, we need the 8A/BX restored now."
Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Community Center Rex Tabora said community members from Visitacion Valley "travel across the city to Chinatown in order to access lower priced groceries and these same folks also use these lines to go to work in service industries such as the restaurant and hotels."
He added, "We desperately need these lines of transportation to feed our families and connect residents to access services in this neighborhood and Chinatown."
According to Walton's Office, the SFMTA has cited staff shortages due to the city's vaccine mandate for employees, as well as budget restrictions, as to why the lines haven't been restored.
SFMTA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The SFMTA Board of Directors is set to discuss the next phase of transit restoration at its next meeting on Dec. 7.
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