Cities struggle with how to reopen public transit : Planet Money Public transit systems are vital to cities. Many have been shut down or slowed during the pandemic. Now city administrators have to figure out how to reopen them.
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The Public Transit Problem

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The Public Transit Problem

The Public Transit Problem

The Public Transit Problem

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
San Francisco MUNI buses sit parked at an SF Municipal Railway yard during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As cities across the U.S. start opening back up, many of them are wondering how to manage their public transportation systems. Many large cities, like New York, Chicago and San Francisco have reduced service drastically in their public transit systems during the pandemic; in some cases, they've stopped service altogether.

But that situation can't last forever. Cities depend on trains, subways and bus lines to get people to and from work. Without their transit systems, those cities would grind to a halt. So opening back up is imperative. But without a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19, opening up is risky. Public transit is a social distancing nightmare, because it tends to pack people together, increasing the likelihood of transmitting disease.

So what's a city planner to do? We talked to Jeffrey Tumlin, the director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, to see what's on his mind as his city starts thinking about public transit post-pandemic.

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