SFMTA Releases Bus Stop Consolidation Plan

Photo: Myleen Holero/Orange Photography
Photo: Myleen Holero/Orange Photography

The SFMTA has released a much-anticipated bus stop consolidation plan [pdf] and while it is only in the planning stages and will take a concerted outreach effort to pass, the agency is finally publicly embracing a measure long pushed by transit advocates as an inexpensive way to speed up the system and make it more reliable.

As first reported in the Chronicle this morning, the proposal prepared for the Service Restoration Task Force calls for the elimination of 109 stops along the 9-Bruno, 14-Mission, 28-19th Avenue, 30-Stockton and 71-Haight-Noriega lines.

The walking distance to stops along these high-ridership routes would increase by 10 percent, but a recent Muni survey showed that a majority of passengers (61 percent) would consider walking farther if it improved their overall travel time.

“It’s great that the MTA has finally produced a concrete proposal for five important routes. This is MTA’s first definite step towards the strategy sketched out in the Transit Effectiveness Project,” said Tom Radulovich, the executive director of transit non-profit Livable City.

The plan must still be approved by the SFMTA Board, but in an interview with Streetsblog, Chair Tom Nolan said he believes directors would back it.

“I think we can do it,” said Nolan, adding that the board would need to address the views of seniors and people with disabilities. “That’s where we have to balance the whole thing, keeping in mind these individual areas and citizens.”

Dave Snyder, the project director for the Transit Riders Union, said bus stop consolidation is a great step, but it would need to be combined with other measures to speed up the system.

“Bus stop consolidation is only of many measures that the MTA could take to reduce travel time,” said Snyder, who added that the agency needs to seriously consider switching to pre-paid and backdoor boarding, along with converting to low-floor buses.

The proposal does acknowledge that traffic engineering changes “combined with low-cost street design changes” can also reduce travel times. They include adding or extending turn pockets, modifying meters and color curb zones, optimizing signal timing and adding traffic signal actuation.

Graphic: SFMTA
Graphic: SFMTA
  • Prepaid boarding would help a lot on some of the lines where the vehicle has to be sitting at a stop for a long period to load passengers. Good example, put some pre-paid ticketing machines on the F-Market line at stops like the Ferry building.

  • I’d love to see what stops they plan to consolidate for the 30. Will this also impact the 45 or are they not touching anything south of Union/Columbus?

    Overall, this is a step in the right direction. I also saw a mention of signal optimization which is badly needed but is it the same as signal prioritization? Also, no mention of increasing bus lane enforcement which is sorely needed.

  • Alex

    @Akit how about simply fixing the machines at SFSU & Stonestown?

    Actually, here’s a novel idea. Take the POP cops, and allow them to sell pre-paid $2 TransClipper cards or deduct fare from an existing TransClipper card. That way they could be deployed to busy stops and have all of the passengers pre-paid, and simply filter through those that are offboarding. It’d be win-win.

  • Michael Smith

    For the 21-Hayes there are two stops on a single block on Grove by City Hall. And there is a stop right by where I live that is only 150 meters from other stops. So I ask Muni to please git rid of the absurdly closely spaced stops, including the one right by my place. The proposed improvements are just a start.

    And to the Board of the MTA, make sure those removed stops don’t turn into increased parking as was done with many of the 26-Valencia bus stops. Adding more parking and therefore more traffic would only further hurt Muni. So the stop consolidation plan should include 1) increasing the length of the remaining stops for the 14-Mission and the 30-Stockton so that multiple buses can stop at the same time; 2) or using stops for parklets; 3) or swapping parking spaces so that key spaces can be removed in order to make safety improvements such as bike lanes or other traffic calming improvements; 4) or put in bike corrals; or 5) if nothing better can be done then put in a yellow zone to reduce double parking.

  • This is music to my ears. I am sensitive to the needs of those that aren’t able to walk as far to the stops, but I believe this can be done with little impact on individuals and maximum impact on the system.

    Signal prioritization would be so awesome! (And is that the same as optimization?) Some friend visiting recently from France were shocked that the J-Church had to wait for the light along San Jose near Randall. “But it just doesn’t make sense. It’s so easy and painless to change the lights a tiny bit,” they exclaimed. Welcome to MUNI.

    Like mikesonn said, bus lane enforcement would be more easily-enforced, potentially money-making low-hanging fruit. There’s so much out there that doesn’t need to be reformed, just enforced and tweaked…

  • wanderer

    Is the actual stop by stop plan available anywhere?

  • @friscolex & @mikesonn signal prioritization (also called Transit Signal Priority, TSP) is not the same as signal optimization. Prioritization adjusts the signal on the fly to help a bus get through the intersection without getting caught on a red. Optimization adjusts signals so the overall intersection works as efficiently as possible for everyone vehicle.

    The nitty grittys of this would also be interesting. Would like to see the closest stops that are still left. Also would like to see where the intersection design improvements are. Turn pockets are great for traffic operations, but not for the pedestrians (increased crossing distance).

  • If you’re going to add traffic signal actuation anyway, couldn’t you eliminate the need for turn pockets by allowing transit vehicles to activate a special left-turn phase that only they can trigger?

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