SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Muni has closed half-block of a busy street that crosses Upper Market to cars in order to create space for riders while getting on and off street cars.

With Muni Metro service shut down indefinitely, some residents and business owners are calling on the agency to reopen the block.

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Shops and restaurants in the area have already had to endure the COVID-19 pandemic climate and a deteriorating business climate.

Muni has closed Church Street to traffic from Market to 15th Street. Dozens of parking spaces have also been removed. The block is the new last stop for the modified J Church street car line.

According to Muni, the modified J Church line would run as a surface-only rail line between Balboa Park and Church Street with the line ending just south of Market Street. At that point, customers travelling downtown would connect to the Muni Metro at the Church Street subway station.

The idea was to create space for all the passengers coming and going, but with the indefinite shutdown of the Muni Metro service, the modification of the J Church line is delayed.

Hank Lim owns Church Street Café. He says no passengers and no traffic means no customers.

When asked how business has been since the closure, Lim replied, “Not good! It was bad before; now it’s worse.”

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Officially, only buses, taxis and deliveries are allowed on the block. However, KPIX cameras caught vehicles driving past the closures. While the signs are generally ignored, drivers aren’t stopping because all the parking spaces are gone.

Several shops appear to be shut down, boarded up and not doing business.

Zory Karah owns the nearby Academy of Ballet San Francisco.

“How can a restaurant survive with no parking?” asked Karah. “People will not take Muni at 9 o’clock at night, because it doesn’t feel safe right now with the pandemic.”

Merchants said Muni officials tell them the Church Street closure is part of a pilot program and may last through November. It is unclear how many businesses will still be here at the end of November.

“Now I’m not paying myself. I’m pretty much just paying my bills, trying to get through this. I don’t know how long I can last, really,” said Lim.

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KPIX reached out to Muni several times Thursday afternoon for comment, but so far has received no response.