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Coronavirus: San Francisco’s Muni Metro closes on Monday; VTA cancels all light traffic

San Francisco’s light rail and subway service will be closed on Monday as the corona virus continues to sick and kill Bay Area residents and government agencies to assess the viability of maintaining the business.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced the decision to turn off the Muni subway and light rail services late Wednesday night, and buses will begin replacing the affected lines on Monday to ensure people can continue to commute to work and carry out essential business around the city.

“In response to changing riders, these service adjustments will help us focus resources on routes outside the downtown area that connect people to important jobs and services,” said Muni officials.

Muni subway lines and light rail routes will be replaced by buses for the J, KT, L, M and N lines with the same bus stops as the early morning Metro bus, officials say. Service will also be stopped for Muni Rapid routes 5R, 9R, 28R and 38R, but 1

4R will continue to operate.

The announcement came in much the same way as the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced that it was immediately shutting down light trains across the South Bay. The service was suspended indefinitely Wednesday night after an operator in training tested positive for coronavirus, officials said.

Brandi Childress, a spokeswoman for VTA, said all rail lines will be stopped “until we better understand the extent of impact and exposure.”

VTA cleaned light rail vehicles Thursday and made sure all vehicles the trainee might have driven were carefully cleaned, she said. Other light rail operators have been told to stay home and wait for instructions if they need the quarantine.

The transit agency will focus attention on bus lines that are more flexible. Childrens ridership for VTA had decreased by 82% since last week’s on-site orders came into effect, Childress said.

Santa Clara County, which has been hit harder than any other location in the Bay Area during the coronavirus outbreak, joined San Francisco and four other counties on March 16 to order residents to stay home unless they conduct important business or business. That order eventually extended to the entire Bay Area and throughout California.

“There is virtually no one on the trains since the county’s legal protection in place, and this essentially quickly conveyed what was probably the inevitable,” Childress said. “We announced yesterday, prior to this event, that we would reduce the hours and frequency of light trains.”

Muni Metro Stations in San Francisco will be closed from Monday, with the exception of central stations. Customers will be able to take BART, whose trains have been scaled back due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

BART maintained full service until this week, when it stopped running trains at 9am daily – three hours early. Saturday service starts at. 20 instead of 2 p.m. 18 starts this weekend.

As of Thursday afternoon, the coronavirus pandemic had resulted in more than 526,000 people worldwide testing positive and nearly 24,000 deaths. More than 1,300 cases have occurred in the Bay Area and 70 Californians have died.

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

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