San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will receive $288.2 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Thursday.
The newly announced funding comes from the more than $30 billion that's been allocated to public transportation nationwide under the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this year.
"Public transportation has been a lifeline for communities and the American people throughout this pandemic," Buttigieg said in a statement. "This funding from President Biden's American Rescue Plan will help protect transit employees from layoffs, keep transit service running, and ensure people can get where they need to go."
Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez said, "As our nation's transit systems recover from COVID-19, the American Rescue Plan funds ensure that they continue to provide service to the many Americans who depend on transit to get to essential jobs, healthcare and vaccine appointments."
Like most other transit agencies nationwide, Muni saw a historic drop in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the agency to scale back service and temporarily discontinue some lines. Muni has restored service along key routes since then, however, in July, SFMTA officials said the agency doesn't anticipate returning to about 90 percent pre-pandemic service levels until June 2023. Supervisor Dean Preston has been calling on the agency to restore service along all routes by the end of the year, as other transit agencies like BART and Caltrain have already done.
In response to the newly announced funding, Preston took to social media to allege even more lines could be on the chopping block and called on the agency to use the funds to save any more lines from being cut.
"No matter how much feds give, it's austerity when it come to SF riders. We aren't the first city to see transit under attack like this, just the latest," he said. "People shouldn't have to fight for their bus lines in a pandemic but here we are."