Mayor Breed and SFMTA Leaders Highlight Reliable, Clean and Safe Muni as Daily Ridership Grows 25%

Service improvements, camera technology, increased staff presence, investments in cleaning and upgrading transit shelters part of broad revitalization strategy to support riders and operators as Muni ridership grows
February 28, 2024

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed and leaders of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) highlighted recent efforts to make Muni more reliable, safe and clean for riders and operators, as well as expanded initiatives to build on this work.  

As of this month, SFMTA Muni daily ridership has increased by 25% in the last year, the highest it has been since ridership plummeted at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and Muni carried nearly half of all transit trips in the Bay Area in 2023 – more than the next eight largest transit operators combined. This reflects the investments that SFMTA has made to deliver clean, safe, and reliable transit service.  

  • Muni is Reliable: Muni service is more reliable than ever, with faster buses and fewer subway delays from improved maintenance strategies.  
    • Major subway delays have fallen 76% since 2019, and short delays are down 89%
    • 66% of Muni riders rate service as good or excellent, +9% increase from 2021
  • Muni is Safe: SFMTA has launched key strategies to make vehicles and stations safer than ever. This includes adding staff and using cameras to deter criminal activity and to help the police address crimes when issues arise. SFMTA has also focused on driver safety so that our operators are better protected from harassment or any threats.  
  • Muni is Clean: SFMTA has prioritized cleaning vehicles and transit platforms and shelters, so that our riders have a positive experience whether they are waiting for their next ride or on a bus or train.

"A reliable, clean, and safe Muni is essential for our city to thrive,” said Mayor London Breed. “We’ve been putting in place policies and making investments to make the experience of riding Muni even better for riders and for operators, and we are seeing improvements throughout the system. With reduced delays, more frequent service, and buses, trains and stations are clean and safe, Muni is getting better every day.”

“Despite our financial challenges, Muni ridership is up 25 percent from last year, largely because of our focus on making transit fast, frequent, reliable, clean and safe,” said SFMTA Executive Director Jeffrey Tumlin.

“When I get a neighbor knocking on my door at 9:00 pm because he just can’t wait to tell me all about the fantastic 38R ride he just had, it feels like something is working,” said Amanda Eaken, Chair of the SFMTA Board of Directors. “We are in a virtuous cycle right now where service investments mean a better experience for our customers, and I’m delighted to see people returning to Muni.”  

A More Reliable Muni

Bus service is faster than ever: The main reason is transit priority lanes. During the pandemic, SFMTA implemented more than 21 miles of new transit priority lanes, bringing San Francisco’s transit- lane network to more than 75 miles.

  • 1 California travel times are up to 11% faster  
  • 14 R Mission downtown travel times are up to 31% faster  
  • 38 Geary travel times are up to 20% faster  
  • 49 Van Ness/Mission travel times are up to 35% faster

Muni is more reliable than ever: Most Muni bus routes now use headway management rather than timepoint schedules. This means operators keep vehicles evenly spaced throughout the line, reducing wait times for passengers and keeping more vehicles in service at once. Demand curves have flattened since the pandemic, which allows operators to be scheduled with more time spent in service. SFMTA Transit Planners now pinpoint crowding in 15-minute increments and refine service to address it:

  • The most frequent buses are arriving on time 90% of the time, decreasing gaps and increasing reliability  
  • 100% of scheduled service was filled on the most frequent Muni routes,
  • Pinpointed service adjustments are addressing crowding on routes to schools during peak times.  
    • For example, the percent of crowded trips on the 24 Divisadero at 7:00am went from 53% to 0% after recent service changes. 

Subway service delays significantly reduced: SFMTA mechanics have embraced preventative maintenance, using data to repair parts and vehicles before they ever break. This keeps the oldest buses looking like new, reducing delays and breakdowns. Once every quarter, subway service closes early for Fix It! Weeks, when maintenance staff complete hundreds of hours of additional maintenance work. Combined with the new Muni Metro fleet, these reforms have dramatically improved reliability: 

  • Major subway delays fell 76% since 2019.
  • Short subway delays fell 89% since 2019
  • Across all vehicles, the average distance between mechanical failures is up 10% since 2022. 

A Safer Muni

Systemwide use of camera technology: SFMTA has over 13,000 cameras in its systems, including between 60-120 at all transit stations and eleven cameras on all vehicles. At Muni stations, station agents monitor video footage from cameras set up throughout the station and take action when there’s an emergency. In multiple instances, this video footage from both stations and vehicles has enabled the police to identify and arrest people who perpetrated crimes.  

Increased staff presence on Muni vehicles: Staffing provides a visual deterrent against crime and other problematic behavior against both riders and operators. There are 26 Muni Transit Ambassadors in the field who ride specific Muni routes to assist customers, defuse and deter conflicts, prevent acts of vandalism, and assist bus operators. SFMTA has 20 additional MTAP staff to add even more presence to our vehicles. Transit Fare Inspectors also ride Muni routes.  

Enhanced data sharing with the DA’s office, SFPD and SFFD to improve our abilities to track and reduce assaults and harassment

Launched MuniSafe, a campaign to prevent gender-based harassment and violence on Muni.   

A Cleaner Muni

Refurbished transit platforms and shelters. Last year, SFMTA improved its efforts to clean, repair and upgrade transit shelters and stops, including in 2023:  

  • SFMTA increased transit stop cleaning by 50% compared to previous years. Last year, SFMTA repaired and upgraded transit shelters, including:
  • 24 transit shelters were fully repaired and refurbished
  • More than 3,900 repairs to glass and seats were completed
  • Example: SFMTA has completed the near total refurbishment of the T line platforms including LED lighting, painting and replacement of broken and graffitied glass. SFMTA will next replace all the benches and trash cans from Sunnydale to Pier 39.    

Cleaner Vehicles. During the pandemic, SFMTA temporarily increased the size of its vehicle cleaning team. This staffing investment has been made permanent. SFMTA vehicle cleaning staff work 24/7, and have maintained an increased cleaning standard since the pandemic  Cleaning activities are happening continuously at the yard, from quick wipe downs to power washes.  Every vehicle is cleaned before going back into service.