Muni May Convert 2-Clement to Electric Trolley Bus
The final decision was made just in time to reap the cost savings from shortening the line that the MTA had already banked on in its current budget. The 2-Clement will be shortened from its current terminus near 33rd Avenue to Park Presidio, a move originally recommended in the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) due to low ridership on the final stretch of the line. Though the TEP is on hold for now, its recommendations helped inform service cuts the MTA made to close its $129 million budget gap in May, including shortening the 2-Clement.
Perhaps surprisingly, shortening the line didn't bring out opposition, but finding a new spot for it to layover between runs brought several dozen Richmond residents and members of Congregation Beth Shalom to MTA board meetings in protest. The two options the MTA originally considered for the terminus - the east side of 14th Avenue just north of Geary Blvd, and the west side of Funston Avenue just north of Geary Blvd - were blasted by residents concerned about the safety and noise impact of buses on their streets. The MTA originally favored those two options because neither are in front of buildings, and both would offer close connectivity with the 28-19th Avenue and 38-Geary lines. The Clement Street terminus doesn't offer as direct a connection, but staff ultimately concluded that riders wouldn't be overly inconvenienced.
"We estimate that the transfer market is likely to be relatively small, in part because there are so many rich transit choices nearby," said the MTA's Julie Kirschbaum.
"Sutter Street has both motor coach and trolley coach service right now, so we're essentially operating four miles of motor coach service simply because we don't have electric wires for the last three-quarters of a mile," explained Kirschbaum at the board meeting Tuesday. "We think that there's an opportunity to pursue it, but we need additional time to work with both 2-Clement customers as well as merchants."
"We think it has environmental benefits as well as reliability benefits," said Kirschbaum. "We also think it will have cost savings."
If the 2-Clement is replaced with an electric trolley bus line and moved to California Street through the Inner Richmond, it would be the first time in over 100 years that Clement will essentially have no transit vehicles running on it, so it may be difficult to predict how riders and merchants will respond. Of course, if the current 2-Clement debate is any indication, the hardest part might be finding a terminus.