San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
Context for Year Founded
Governing or Corporate Structure
A Board of Directors governs the SFMTA, providing policy oversight and ensuring the public interest is represented. The Board's duties include approving the agency's budget and contracts and authorizing proposed changes to fares, fees and fines. Its seven members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Board of Supervisors.
Significant Historical Milestones
San Francisco's Muni serves a diverse city of 837,000 people, providing more than 700,000 trips on an average weekday. One of the nation's first publicly owned transit systems, Muni has a rich history in the City by the Bay.
Transit service in San Francisco started in 1851 and was operated by privately owned companies throughout the 19th century. The 20th century began with a push for change. Because of public dissatisfaction with the companies managing transit systems and other public utilities, the city charter of 1900 called for public ownership of all local public utilities. In 1902, the United Railroads of San Francisco took over most local transit services. That company's disregard for the public welfare, corruption of city officials, and callous labor practices angered voters so much that they approved bond issues for municipal streetcar service in 1909. The Municipal Railway (Muni) started service on Geary Street three years later, on December 28, 1912.
Muni expanded service in the following decades, but the United Railroads remained much larger. In 1944 the city acquired the United Railroads, which by then had been renamed the Market Street Railway. After World War II, most of Muni's streetcar lines were converted to bus service, with much of the new service provided by electric trolley buses. In 1952 the city purchased the last privately owned transit system in San Francisco, the California Street Cable Railroad.
The present-day three-line cable car system began service in 1957. From 1979 to 1992, the city implemented major changes to bus routes, converting a mostly radial system – to and from downtown – into a modified grid system to improve service in the city and provide better regional transit connections. Also, Muni's remaining streetcar lines (now called Muni Metro) got a major upgrade with new light rail vehicles and construction of the Market Street Subway. Service in the subway began in 1980-82.
The F Market & Wharves historic streetcar line began running on Market Street in 1995 and was extended to Fisherman's Wharf in 2000. In 2007 a new light rail line – the T Third Street Line – began service in eastern San Francisco. Construction is progressing on Phase 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project – the Central Subway – to bring rapid rail service north through SoMa, Union Square and into Chinatown.
In 1999, San Franciscans voted to merge Muni with the Department of Parking and Traffic to form the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, an integrated agency to manage transportation more effectively and advance the city's Transit-First Policy.
In November 2014, voters approved two new sources of funding for transit and other transportation improvements. Muni Forward, now underway, is a citywide improvement program that brings together many projects and planning efforts to make Muni safer and more reliable. It includes route changes and other service improvements, the implementation of a Rapid Network of core routes, acquisition of new transit vehicles, safety and accessibility projects, and technology upgrades. This and other programs will vastly improve service for San Francisco by responding to the needs of the 21st century and preparing Muni for the future.
Public transit service starts in San Francisco with the opening of the Municipal Railway (1912) Present-day historic cable car service begins (1957) First light rail service in Market Street Subway (1980) Historic streetcar service begins on Market Street (1995) SFMTA formed through voter initiative--Muni merges with Department of Parking and Traffic (1999) T Third Street Line opens (2007) SFMTA and Taxi Commission merge (2009) Muni Forward citywide improvement program launches (2014)
Public Transit and Commuter Rail Agencies
Number of Employees
Number of Bus Routes Provided
Number of Rail Lines Served
Major Planned Investments
Key ongoing or upcoming transit investments include: Central Subway Project Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Geary Bus Rapid Transit Fleet replacement (buses and LRVs) Muni Forward network-wide service improvements and capital investments Facilities enhancements and repairs We will also focus on completing data-driven safety projects to protect people walking, upgrading San Francisco's bicycle network, installing new traffic signals, and completing traffic calming projects in San Francisco neighborhoods.
Opening Day of the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) on Geary Street | December 28, 1912
Mayor James Rolph at the controls of Streetcar 117 for the opening of the Twin Peaks Tunnel | February 3, 1918
Mayor Dianne Feinstein and Tony Bennett cutting ribbon for cable car system reopening celebration at Union Square | June 21, 1984
Crews dismantle a tunnel boring machine used to construct San Francisco's newest subway, the Central Subway, expected to begin service in 2019 | August 19, 2014
Overhead view of traffic on Market and Van Ness, including new red bus-only lanes and green, separated bikeways | October 15, 2014