Muni faces financial crisis due to COVID-19, most bus lines could vanish for years

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Some startling news from Muni. San Francisco's transportation agency is now in the midst of a financial disaster due to COVID-19 and low ridership. The majority of its longtime bus lines which were cut at the start of the pandemic may not return for years, that includes our beloved cable cars.

"The cuts we're making are terribly painful," said SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin.

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Tumlin had no good news at a recent board meeting.

He said every aspect of the city's transportation future looks grim.

"We are planning for a $200 million dollar loss," said Tumlin.

Tumlin says 40 bus lines that were cut at the beginning of the pandemic won't return for at least two years, maybe not at all. With fare revenue down 90 percent, Muni needs a new sources of funding quickly.

"We fall off a financial cliff in 2022, to restore service, we're living on our credit cards for the next two years," Tumlin said.

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Commuters say they were hoping many bus routes would return.

"I think it's terrible because people need to work and need to get to work," said commuter Robert Retana.

As for the city's signature Cable Cars, officials say they likely won't return to service until there's a COVID19 vaccine, in order to help keep operators safe.

Roger Marenco, President of Transport Workers Union, 250A suggests city leaders take a pay cut to save Muni.

"That's my challenge to them, take a 10 percent pay cut over the next 12 months," said Marenco.

But Muni officials say even that won't be enough to close the gap.

Meantime Muni rail service is scheduled to resume in August, and the Central Subway Project remains on track to open in late 2021.

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