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History of the SFMTA

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), a department of the City and County of San Francisco, is responsible for the management of all ground transportation in the city, including oversight of the Municipal Railway (Muni), as well as bicycling, paratransit, parking, traffic, walking, and taxis.

The SFMTA is governed by a Board of Directors, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The SFMTA Board provides policy oversight, including budgetary approval, and changes of fares, fees, and fines, ensuring representation of the public interest.

Established by voter mandate in 1999, the SFMTA aggregated multiple San Francisco city agencies, including the Taxi Commission, the Department of Parking and Traffic, and the Municipal Railway (Muni).

Find out more about the origins of the SFMTA in the timeline below.


Launch of the Municipal Railway 1912

Muni begins service with the debut its first line, the A Geary, an electric streetcar on Geary Street. Today, San Francisco's transit agency is known as "Muni," and is recognized as the oldest publicly-operated transit system in the nation. Muni became a division of the SFMTA in March of 2000.

A large crowd gathers around two streetcars on Geary Street at Grant Avenue on December 28, 1912, to celebrate the opening day of the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

Opening day of the Municipal Railway on December 28, 1912, with a large crowd of San Franciscans on Geary Street near Grant Avenue. Image U03815 from the SFMTA Photo Archive.


SF Creates Parking Authority 1949

With the growth of automotive traffic in the years following World War II, the Parking Authority is established as a city department in 1949.


Cable Cars Join the Historic Register 1964

The iconic San Francisco cable car system and car house are listed as historically significant on the National Register of Historic Places, a testament to the hard work and unrelenting efforts of the Committee to Save the Cable Cars, established and spearheaded by Friedel Klussman beginning in 1947.


Muni Public Service Bureau 1973

In order to better communicate with passengers and the general public, Muni creates a Public Service Bureau, merging the role of transit information services with passenger complaints and commendations. Now, many of these functions are part of the SFMTA Customer Service Center, located at 11 South Van Ness Avenue.

A group of Muni employees from the Muni Public Service Bureau cluster around a man with a headset inside the Muni Offices in 1977.

Staff of the Muni Public Services Bureau in 1977, in their office at Muni's first headquarters on Geary Boulevard at Presidio Avenue. Image M2433_2 from the SFMTA Photo Archive.


Regional Disabled Rider Discount Fare 1979

In early 1979, a Bay Area Regional Transit Discount Card is offered for persons with disabilities, following the creation of a regional standard discount fare in 1977, as well as the monthly-rate Fast Pass in 1974. This discount card simplifies transfers across systems, a particular need after the opening of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service in the mid-1970s. Also in 1979, Muni establishes its Elderly and Handicapped Program Office. These programs eventually became today's SFMTA Regional Transit Connection Office.

Two brightly colored vintage Muni discount fast passes from 1981.

Senior and handicapped Muni discount passes from the early 1980s. Image from the SFMTA Photo Archive.


Accessibility Advisory Committee Is Established 1980

MAAC, the Muni Accessibility Advisory Committee-- which still acts in an important advisory role to this day, now as the SFMTA Multimodal Accessbility Advisory Committee-- is established in 1980 to guide transit and infrastructure design and policies by gathering input from senior and disabled San Franciscans.


Parking Authority Becomes DPT 1990

The Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) is created, incorporating the over forty-year-old Parking Authority.


Formation of Taxi Commission 1998

The Taxi Commission is established. Prior to its creation, regulation of taxis had been overseen by the San Francisco Police Commission, as well as other city deparments such as the Tax Collector's Office and the Department of Public Health.


Prop E Mandates SFMTA 1999

San Francisco voters approved Proposition E, combining Muni and the Department of Parking and Traffic under a single agency, the SFMTA. In March of 2000, SFMTA becomes a department of the City and County, replacing the Public Transportation Commission. By mid-year, Muni is officially incorporated into SFMTA management.

A view of a Muni Metro platform in 1999 with a train in motion on the left while passengers stand on the platform on the right.

Passengers in a Muni Metro Station in 1999, the year the SFMTA was established. Image from the SFMTA Photo Archive.


SFMTA Merges with DPT 2002

The Department of Parking and Traffic is incorporated under the umbrella of the SFMTA.


Responsibility of SFMTA Increases 2007

SFMTA’s authority over transportation and responsibility for oversight increases with the passage of Proposition A. The proposition authorizes SFMTA to issue bonds, and requires measurable standards for traffic and parking.


Taxi Regulation Is Added 2009

In spring of 2009, the SFMTA officially undertakes responsibility for taxi regulation, authorized by both propositions E and A. Taxi regulation becomes part of already existing programs for oversight of public transit service via Muni, as well as parking, traffic, paratransit, and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

A Yellow Taxi Cab picks up passengers at Fisherman's Wharf circa 2007.

A Yellow Cab picks up passengers near Fisherman's Wharf in 2009. Image 2091107-039 from the SFMTA Photo Archive.


SFMTA Today

The SFMTA is responsible for robust planning, design, management, and construction projects, supporting all elements of San Francisco’s transportation infrastructure. SFMTA also partners with other city and regional agencies to define long-range transportation and equity goals.

Today, Muni is the eighth largest public transit system in the nation. The agency also manages paratransit service, regulates the taxi industry, and oversees on- and off- street public parking spaces.

By performing these multiple essential functions, the SFMTA directly impacts San Francisco’s quality of life and economic vitality, as well as regional efforts to achieve California’s climate and sustainability goals.

2017 light rail vehicle on the streets of San Francisco