Muni Riders Get a Break: 30 Extra Minutes to Make Transfers

Muni passengers will soon get a time extension on their tickets -- from 90 minutes up to two hours.  (Anna Kusmer/KQED)

Genesis Garcia grew up in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley, riding Muni's 8-Bayshore, 44-O'Shaughnessy and 54-Felton lines.

She had an experience familiar to many Muni riders: Traveling across the city, she'd run up against the 90-minute limit to transfer from one line to another. An expired transfer would mean having to pay a second fare to get to her destination.

"It was so frustrating," she said earlier this week. "I thought, 'What can I do?' "

It dawned on her that extending the transfer time would be a way to alleviate the stress and expense for riders with long commutes across the city. She joined San Francisco Transit Riders, a public advocacy group, and went to work trying to get Muni to extend the transfer window.

And this week, she succeeded.

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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board voted unanimously on Tuesday to change the transfer limit for bus and train passengers from 90 minutes to two hours. The policy takes effect Sept. 1.

"We're really grateful to SFMTA for actually listening and hearing us out on this," said Rachel Hyden, executive director of the transit riders group. "We asked for a little extra time to make sure that transit riders can get all the way across the city with only paying once."

The policy is a win-win for Muni and its customers. According to an SFMTA staff report, increased ridership is expected to make up for whatever revenue may be lost because of the increased transfer time limit.

Genesis Garcia rides Muni every day. She helped persuade the SFMTA board to extend the time limit for transfers from 90 minutes to two hours. (Anna Kusmer/KQED)

"This new policy is meant to encourage more people to ride Muni," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said. "We heard from several riders and organizations that said that 90 minutes was not enough time for some trips. Our goal is to make the Muni riding experience more convenient."

And the best part? Garcia and Hyden approached the SFMTA only a couple of months ago. When it comes to changing city policy, that's a quick turnaround.

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"This is great," said Garcia. "Sometimes small fixes take so long, and this is one where we didn't have to wait."

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