Seven weeks after the SF Municipal Transportation Agency painted red transit-only lanes on several blocks of Church Street, Muni reports that the J-Church and 22-Fillmore lines are moving faster and more reliably. On the stretch between Duboce Avenue and 16th Street, travel times on the two lines have dropped by 5 percent, and the buses and trains are 20 percent more reliable, arriving closer to their scheduled arrival times.
Before the transit lanes went in, Muni riders were routinely delayed by private automobile drivers blocking boarding islands and waiting to make left turns. “We were losing a lot of time there,” said Sean Kennedy, planning manager for the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project. ”This is the slowest section for both the 22 and the J on their entire stretch, and one of the slowest sections in the whole transit system.”
The Church transit-only lanes are a pilot project of the TEP that allows the SFMTA to measure the effect on transit and traffic, helping to inform plans to use them on other streets.
SFPD and SFMTA parking enforcement officers have handed out 26 citations to drivers so far for violating the transit lanes, according to the SFMTA. (The SFPD enforces moving violations, while SFMTA can only enforce parking violations.)
While it’s still easy to spot drivers disobeying the new rules, it appears that violators are less likely to enter the lanes in front a Muni vehicle, where they might cause delays. That seems to indicate that even if drivers know they’re driving in the lanes illegally, many seem to know better than to delay Muni vehicles.
“They know,” said Camron Samii, the SFMTA’s enforcement director. On the city’s other 15 miles of transit-only lanes (which, other than Third Street’s light-rail lanes, aren’t colored), Samii said it’s typical to see drivers pick up on patterns and only violate the lanes when there are fewer transit vehicles and enforcement officers are around. The agency tries to mix up where and when enforcement happens, he said.