Coronavirus: Muni Metro in San Francisco will close on Monday; VTA suspends all light rail service


The San Francisco light rail and metro service will close on Monday as the coronavirus continues to ravage and kill residents of the Bay Area and government agencies are scrambling to assess the viability of continuing operations.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced a decision to close the Muni metro and light rail service late Wednesday, and buses will begin replacing the affected lines on Monday to ensure people can continue to travel to work and essential shopping in the city.

“In response to changes in ridership, these service adjustments will help us focus resources on routes outside of the city center that connect people to essential jobs and services,” said Muni officials. .

Muni’s metro and light rail lines will be replaced by buses for lines J, KT, L, M and N using the same bus stops as the early morning metro bus service, officials said. Service will also be discontinued for the Muni Rapid 5R, 9R, 28R and 38R routes, but the 14R will continue to operate.

The announcement came about the same time that the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced the immediate closure of the tram across South Bay. The service was suspended indefinitely Wednesday night after a trainee operator tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

VTA spokesperson Brandi Childress said all tram lines will be cut “until we understand the extent of the impact and exposure.”

VTA cleaned light rail vehicles on Thursday and ensured that all vehicles the trainee could have used were completely sanitized, she said. Other tram operators were asked to stay at home and wait for instructions on whether to self-quarantine.

The transport agency will focus on the bus lines, which are more flexible. Light rail VTA traffic has declined 82% since orders for on-site shelters went into effect last week, Childress said.

Santa Clara County, which was hit harder than any other area in the Bay Area during the coronavirus epidemic, joined San Francisco and four other counties on March 16 to order residents to stay at home, unless they are doing essential business or shopping. This order eventually spread to the entire Bay Area and all of California.

“There has been virtually no one left on the trains since the county on-site shelter legal system, and this has essentially accelerated what was probably the inevitable,” said Childress. “We announced yesterday, before this incident, that we will reduce the hours and frequency of light rail.”

Muni Metro stations in San Francisco will be closed from Monday, with the exception of downtown stations. Customers will still be able to take BART, whose trains have been reduced due to the coronavirus epidemic.

BART maintained full service until this week, when it stopped operating at 9 p.m. every day – three hours earlier. Saturday service will start at 8 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. starting this weekend.

As of Thursday afternoon, the coronavirus pandemic had left more than 526,000 people tested positive and nearly 24,000 dead. More than 1,300 cases have occurred in the bay area and 70 Californians have died.

Josh Koehn and Michal Cabanatuan are editors of the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected], [email protected] Twitter: @Josh_Koehn @ctuan


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