New D4 Supervisor Katy Tang: Curbing Muni Switchbacks a Top Priority

Katy Tang (right) and Mayor Ed Lee (left) on a merchant tour on Irving Street yesterday. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Katy Tang was sworn in Wednesday as the supervisor for District 4, comprised of the outer and central Sunset. Tang, who grew up in the district, was appointed this week by Mayor Ed Lee to replace Carmen Chu, who Lee recently picked to serve as the city’s assessor-recorder. Chu spent five years on the Board of Supervisors, during which Tang served as her legislative aide.

Streetsblog caught up with Tang at a publicity event yesterday, where she and Lee visited merchants on mid-Irving Street and spoke with reporters. When asked about her priorities for improving transportation in the Sunset — from Muni to pedestrian safety to bicycling — she touched only upon the issue of curbing Muni switchbacks.

Switchbacks are often used by Muni managers as a way to re-distribute vehicles to other areas on the system where managers determine they’re needed most. In SF’s outer neighborhoods, this often forces Muni riders off their train, where they are told to wait for the next one, which, according to Muni, should be no more than five minutes behind.

Here’s what Tang had to say on the matter:

As you know, the Sunset District is one of the furthest districts away from the center of the city, so transportation is obviously a very important issue that is ongoing. I think that the issue of switchbacks has been a continuing problem that we need to work on with the MTA, and making sure that when our residents are trying to get home, for example, after a long day at work that they aren’t abandoned at Sunset Boulevard, midway. So I think that’s very important, but I think it’s also very important to make sure that we’re working together with MTA on this.

While Tang’s focus on Muni switchbacks falls pretty much in line with Chu’s limited record on transportation issues, her district has plenty of other livable streets issues to tackle, like rampant sidewalk parking and calming traffic on deadly motorways like 19th Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, and Lincoln Way. With its excessively wide streets, the Sunset also has plenty of room for improvements like protected bike lanes, bike boulevards, and more pedestrian space to help liven up its commercial districts.