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Welcoming Back the M Ocean View and 31 Balboa

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Photo of the M Ocean View

The M Ocean View will return to rail service and resume its full pre-pandemic route in August

As August 14 approaches, the target date for the next big Muni service change, the SFMTA is pleased to announce Muni’s M Ocean View will be returning to rail service and the 31 Balboa will be returning to service with a temporarily adjusted route. We thank Supervisors Melgar, Safai, Preston and Haney for their advocacy for the return of this service on behalf of their constituents.

The addition of the 31 Balboa and return of the M Ocean View to rail service was made possible following improved clarity on our staffing levels this fall. We had previously forecast that due to an abnormally low level of retirements during the pandemic, we would see a spike at the start of the fiscal year (July 1) when many staff tend to announce their retirements. However, we are now confident there will be adequate staffing to deliver this additional service.

These enhancements to our previously announced plan for August include expanding evening service and restoring Muni Owl All-nighter service. To help workers and shoppers get around town we plan to expand service hours on 16 key routes. Instead of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., these routes will operate from 5 a.m. to midnight. Muni’s full late-night Owl network is scheduled to be restored in August, providing service from midnight to 5 a.m. The frequency on the late-night routes will remain approximately 30 minutes. We also plan to extend Metro Bus hours to cover the time span between Owl and rail service. Visit our Muni Owl All-Nighter Service page for the full list of current Owl routes and service information.

Resources previously tied up by mandatory COVID-19 restrictions, like removal of the heightened cleaning regimen, were able to be redistributed so that service could be expanded. Returning the M Ocean View to rail service has always been a high priority for the SFMTA, and with available operators and vehicles, we are excited to bring it back in time for SFUSD to resume in-person instruction in August.

The M Ocean View will resume its full pre-pandemic route, traveling from Geneva and San Jose Avenue to the Embarcadero Station. It will operate every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 12 minutes on weekends.

The modified 31 Balboa will travel from Ocean Beach to Cyril Magnin at Market Street, providing a direct connection to Powell Station and several Market Street lines. The 31 Balboa is expected to operate daily every 20 minutes.

A major priority for SFMTA restoring service during the state of emergency has been ensuring convenient, two- to three-block access to Muni stops. Service changes implemented in January 23, 2021 provided access to 100% of residents living in neighborhoods identified by the Muni Service Equity Strategy, and with the service changes in August, 98% of San Francisco residents will also have this access.

As we head into the fall, SFMTA’s transit planning team is developing scenarios for three alternatives for how service might be restored this coming winter. Restoring the 31 Balboa to service is necessary in all three of the service restoration scenarios as it fills a critical gap in Muni access in the Tenderloin, Western Addition, and Richmond neighborhoods. Inviting the public to provide feedback on those alternatives is a part of upcoming community engagement activities.

Over the past year, we’ve heard robust feedback that the 31 Balboa is a critical lifeline for many Muni customers. While resource constraints continue to be a challenge for the agency as we gradually recover from the pandemic, the SFMTA schedules and transit planning teams, along with union leadership, are working hard to identify the resources needed to bring back the 31 Balboa.

The modified 31 Balboa will travel from Ocean Beach to Cyril Magnin at Market Street, providing a direct connection to Powell Station and several Market Street lines. The 31 Balboa is expected to operate daily every 20 minutes.

Restored and Adjusted Routes

Below is a summary of the specific service planned for the M Ocean View and 31 Balboa:

M Ocean View:

  • The M Ocean View will return to rail service and resume its full pre-pandemic route, running from the Embarcadero Station to Geneva Avenue and San Jose Avenue. This route will use the Muni Metro subway and serve all stations from Embarcadero to West Portal.
  • Service hours: 
    • Weekdays, 6am-9pm, approximately every 10 minutes.
    • Weekends, 8am-9pm. approximately every 12 minutes.

31 Balboa:

  • Temporary modified route between Cabrillo Street and La Playa to Cyril Magnin at Market Street.
  • Service hours: 
    • Daily, 5am-10pm (still to be confirmed), approximately every 20 minutes.

Further details can be found on the August 2021 Service Change Updates webpage and on the COVID-19 Muni Core Service Plan.