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Posts from the "Bus Bulbs" Category

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5-Fulton Upgrades to Include Limited Service, Road Diet, and Stop Removal

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Two 5-Fulton buses approach the turn at Central Avenue on McAllister Street. Photo: cbcastro/Flickr

The 5-Fulton could get less crowded this fall after Muni launches a package of speed improvements [PDF] in a pilot of the Transit Effectiveness Project.

The SFMTA plans to launch a 5-Fulton Limited line, remove some excess stops, move stops across intersections for smoother loading, and extend the length of bus zones to make room for double bus loading. Early next year, planners said bus bulb-outs would be also be added at seven intersections as part of a re-paving project on Fulton west of 25th Avenue.

A road diet would also be implemented on Fulton between Stanyan Street and Central Avenue, reducing four traffic lanes to two, plus turn lanes. Aside from calming traffic, SFMTA planners said that change would allow for wider traffic lanes to safely fit buses. Currently, the buses must squeeze into 9-foot lanes, resulting in a high frequency of collisions with cars. The new lanes would be 12.5 feet wide.

The new 5-Limited would run the entire length of the route using the 5′s regular electric trolley coaches, serving only the six most heavily-used stops between Market Street and 6th Avenue, running that stretch 17 percent faster than the existing local service, planners said. From the Transbay Terminal to the beach, the 5L would run 11 percent faster than the existing service.

Local bus service, which would be served with hybrid motor buses, would only run as far west as 6th Avenue, and run that stretch 7 percent faster. That means anyone looking to use a local stop on the middle stretch east of 6th, coming to or from the western stretch, would have to transfer between a 5L bus and a 5-local, though planners said relatively few riders seem to make such trips. The 5-Limited would stop running at 7 p.m., after which electric trolley coaches would serve every stop on the line.

With the 5L carrying the bulk of rush-hour commuters on the route at a faster clip, Muni planners say the improvements will go a long way toward reducing crowding. At daytime hours, between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the 5 currently runs at an average speed of just 9 mph, said SFMTA planner Dustin White.

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Eyes on the Street: Transit Bulb-Outs Installed at Carl and Cole

Photos: Aaron Bialick

N-Judah riders boarding at Carl and Cole Streets are enjoying a better boarding area after the SF Municipal Transportation Agency built sidewalk bulb-outs (a.k.a. extensions) this weekend.

The curb ramps and other finishing touches aren’t in yet, but the wider sidewalks have replaced a handful of car parking spaces with more room for the roughly 4,300 daily transit boardings that take place at the intersection. Muni passengers can now board and disembark without setting foot off the sidewalk, and the outbound stop will hopefully be free of the illegal parking that has regularly caused train delays and collisions.

The outbound stop, where a wider sidewalk replaced pavement where drivers often parked illegally, blocking trains.

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Forget Parking: N-Judah Detours Show How Much Merchants Rely on Muni

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Carl and Cole Streets. Photo: SF Examiner

When the SF Municipal Transportation Agency proposed widening sidewalks at two stops on Carl Street in Cole Valley to improve conditions for nearly 6,000 daily passenger boardings on Muni’s N-Judah line, some vociferous merchants and residents complained about the loss of nine car parking spaces it would require. But with ongoing project construction detouring the N-Judah for several weekends this year, some merchants may be discovering the hard way what really brings business to the neighborhood: Muni.

Some business owners estimate their business has dropped 30 percent as a result of street closures on Carl for work on the rail replacement project, according to Juliet Pries, the owner of Ice Cream Bar on Cole Street. (Pries, who opened her shop after the project was planned, was not an opponent.) During the closures, the two N-Judah stops on Carl at Cole and Stanyan Streets are moved to Frederick Street, which runs one block to the north, just off the neighborhood’s commercial strip. Trains are also replaced with shuttle buses, which are slower and carry fewer people, and many riders who are aware of the construction may avoid using the line. On an average day, the stop at Carl and Cole serves over 4,300 boardings alone, according to Transit Effectiveness Project data collected in 2007.

“A lot of people get off that train and walk right past my business,” said Pries. “It’s definitely one of the reasons for choosing this location.”

Of course, the noise and visual impacts of the construction itself may contribute to the drop, and roughly a few dozen street parking spaces are also temporarily removed during the closures. But studies in other dense, transit-oriented neighborhoods have found that merchants frequently overestimate how many of their customers drive, fueling opposition to improvements for walking, biking, and transit that have been shown to benefit businesses time and time again.

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Tell SFMTA How You’d Improve Eight Muni Routes at Upcoming Workshops

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The SFMTA is aiming to implement its plans to speed up Muni service under the Transit Effectiveness Project by 2017, beginning with eight priority routes.

Muni's eight priority routes for TEP improvements. Click to enlarge. Image: SFMTA

Starting March 31, the agency will hold nine workshops where the public can weigh in on how to improve these corridors. The toolkit includes bus lanes, bus bulbs, and stop consolidation, among other options. The TEP will also add transit-priority traffic signals at 600+ intersections along these routes. SFMTA staff says bus trips could be sped up by as much as 28 percent, and implementation could begin in late 2013.

To make Muni service on these routes as fast and reliable as possible, it’s crucial that the SFMTA hears public support for the most effective improvements on the table.

You can look up the schedule of workshops to see which lines will be discussed when. An overview of all eight corridors will be held at the SFMTA offices at 1 South Van Ness on Wednesday, April 14 at 10 a.m.

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New Supes Proposal Would Expedite Sidewalk Expansions

[Note: This proposal was approved by the full Board of Supervisors.]

Widening sidewalks in San Francisco is a time-consuming task — it’s the only city in California where even minor changes to a sidewalk’s width require legislative approval. But a new proposal headed to the SF Board of Supervisors would cut some of the red tape standing in the way of implementing such street improvements.

"Bulb-outs", or curb extensions, like this one at 7th Avenue and Irving Street could be installed more easily under a new proposal. Image: Google Maps

The proposal, sponsored by Supervisor Scott Weiner and Mayor Ed Lee, was moved forward by the SF Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee today. It would streamline the bureaucratic process for building sidewalk extensions (a.k.a. “bulb-outs”) — a street design tool often used by planners to calm motor traffic, improve pedestrian visibility and comfort, and ease transit boardings at stops — by eliminating an outdated requirement for changes to sidewalk widths less than one block long to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

“This will be a significant improvement in our process in terms of making our city more pedestrian-friendly and safer for pedestrians, improving the vibrancy of our commercial districts, and creating more public space that is not for cars, but rather for people,” said Wiener.

“Upon adoption of the Better Streets Plan, we’ve seen more and more projects come through for minor sidewalk changes such as corner bulb-outs for individual projects that don’t exceed one linear block,” said Nick Elsner of the SF Department of Public Works (DPW), the primary agency responsible for implementing sidewalk extensions. ”This would greatly expedite and make the process much more efficient.”

According to legislative documents [PDF], the proposal would amend an ordinance passed in 1910 requiring project approval from supervisors, which “result[s] in a very lengthy process and often lead[s] to project delays.” It would also establish a speedier approval process for the SF Planning Department, but projects would still need to be approved by other affected agencies like the SFMTA. The change would save the DPW an estimated $2,500 in processing costs for a block of construction, said spokesperson Gloria Chan, and the SF Planning Department would save about $1,375 in reviews.

Bulb-outs, the documents note, are an important tool in pursuing the city’s goals of improving the pedestrian environment. Stephen Shotland of the Planning Department said the proposal is intended “to be able to move projects forward that really are consistent with the General Plan and consistent with the adopted Better Streets Plan,” which, along with several neighborhood plans cited in the documents, call for improvements like widening congested sidewalks, minimizing crossing distances, and discouraging high-speed car traffic on local streets. “Staff would be able to review projects to make sure that, in fact, is the case,” said Shotland.

The proposal passed the committee today without objection and is expected to go before the full board in the coming weeks.

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Work Begins on Divisadero Ped Upgrades, but Skinny Sidewalks Remain

DSCN1911.jpgWidening the median on Divisadero Street. Photo: Janel Sterbentz
Ninety years after city traffic managers widened Divisadero Street between Haight and Sacramento Streets, skimming off five feet of sidewalk and adding a travel lane on both sides, the Department of Public Works (DPW) is spending $3.3 million to upgrade the landscaping on the median, without adjusting the skinny nine-foot-nine-inch sidewalks. The DPW recently started construction on the project on Divisadero between Waller Street and Geary Boulevard, where it will add new bus bulb-outs, widen the median and plant trees on it, upgrade lighting fixtures, plant new sidewalk trees and install other furnishings. 

Many residents from the neighborhoods Divisadero connects are relieved to see any pedestrian improvements, given the long neglected state of the street.

"I think that street has been so beleaguered and so worn down for so many years, people are going to be happy just to get any improvement," said BIKE NOPA's Michael Helquist. Leela Gill, former president of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, called the project "a welcome improvement."

Wider sidewalks were high on the list of requests at community feedback meetings, but DPW ruled them out during the planning process, said Walk SF's Manish Champsee. "It comes down to a cost issue," said Champsee.

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Do We Have to Wait for the Next Mayor for a Car-free Market Street?

Mona_Market_St._Mural.jpgMona Caron's interpretation of a 21st Century Market Street
How hard is it to fix the most important street in San Francisco, one that is vital to transit, that is the spine of the bicycle network, and that could be the crowning jewel of the city, a Champs d'Elysee or a newly pedestrianized Broadway?  Without Mayor Gavin Newsom spearheading the process, it doesn't bode well.

In an interview, Wade Crowfoot, the Mayor's Director of Climate Initiatives, insisted "coordination and leadership will come from our office, but we need to take it out of the politics of city hall and engage the key stakeholders.  The time is ripe for a broader conversation."

It is clear from interviews, however, that the needed leadership is not coming from the Mayor, and the vacuum from the Mayor's office means that many agencies are moving forward without him and without much coordination.  From a positive standpoint, if the Mayor were to sit down at the table, he'd find it's already been set.

"There was no plan that I know of a year ago," said Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW).  He explained he first had a conversation about a big vision for Market Street improvements with SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum when they discussed the regularly scheduled repaving of Market Street.  "If we're going to invest all this money and create all this disruption, we have a great opportunity.  We can rip up the street and pave it exactly as it is, or we can come up with something much better."

Reiskin said the DPW had budgeted a small amount of planning and design money this year, and put out a call to all the agencies that have infrastructure along the street.  He has also been working with the Planning Department to develop a procedural document that will focus on how the agencies should coordinate their efforts.

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Unclogging the Cesar Chavez Traffic Sewer

cc_median_after_small.jpgA 14' median with trees will be added to Cesar Chavez when the bicycle injunction is lifted
One of the many casualties of the bicycle injunction has been the community led plan for reconstruction of Cesar Chavez Street between Guerrero and the 101.  Over the past five years, community groups led by CC Puede, the Precita Valley Neighbors (PVN), Mission Antidisplacement Coalition (MAC), Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), and PODER have participated in workshops and charettes that produced a plan to transform a traffic sewer into a livable street with greenery, a bike lane, wide sidewalks, and safe pedestrian crossing times. 

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