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Posts from the "Transit Effectiveness Project" Category

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Red Transit Lanes on Church Have Made Muni Faster and More Reliable

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Photos: Aaron Bialick

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.

Sean Kennedy (left), the SFMTA's TEP planning manager, and Camron Samii, SFMTA enforcement director.

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.

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Eyes on the Street: At Last, Red Transit Lanes on Church

If you visited northern Church Street this weekend, you may have been seeing red.

Photo: SFMTA

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency installed red-colored transit-only lanes on Church between Duboce Avenue and 16th Street in a pilot project to test how well the treatment keeps the lanes clear of private cars. SFMTA spokesperson Kristen Holland said signs and pavement markings are also being added over the next couple of days.

These are San Francisco’s second colored transit lanes — the first are the light-rail lanes on Third Street. However, these are the first colored lanes where buses and taxis are expected to drive as well, and the agency is watching how quickly rubber tires will wear the paint off.

Most importantly, this improvement will be a boon for riders on the J-Church and 22-Fillmore who for too long have been delayed by auto drivers blocking boarding islands and turning trains. If the project is successful, Muni riders can expect more pavement treatments like these to be rolled out with the Transit Effectiveness Project in the coming years.

Photo: SFMTA

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SFMTA: Church Street Colored Transit Lanes Coming This Weekend

Photo simulation by SFMTA

After months of apparent weather delays, the SF Muncipal Transportation Agency said today that it will implement red-colored transit-only lanes on Church Street between Duboce Avenue and 16th Street this Saturday and Sunday.

The project, a pilot in the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project, is expected to reduce delays on Muni’s J-Church and 22-Fillmore lines by keeping cars out of Church’s center lanes, where they can slow down Muni vehicles, prevent them from loading passengers at boarding islands, and block turning trains at the busy Duboce and Church intersection, according to the SFMTA.

The transit lanes were originally scheduled for installation in September, but the SFMTA said it needs “three days of no precipitation and 24-hour temperatures above 55 degrees so the paint will dry properly,” and the forecast for this weekend apparently fits the bill.

During construction this weekend, the J-Church route won’t run north of Market Street, and riders will have to transfer.

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All Muni Buses to Get Cameras for Transit Lane Enforcement by Spring 2014

A parking control officer reviews video footage from a bus-mounted camera to mail tickets to drivers parked in bus-only lanes. Image: KRON 4

Every Muni bus will be fitted with a front-facing camera to enforce transit-only lanes by spring of next year, according to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency [PDF]. Three hundred of the 800 buses in the system will receive them by this fall, and all of the new buses being purchased by the SFMTA will get them as well, the agency says.

Currently, only 4 percent of Muni’s bus fleet has cameras, which give enforcement officers the ability to ticket scofflaw drivers parked in transit lanes by mailing them a ticket. Current law prohibits the cameras from being used to cite moving violations in a transit lane (only police can do that) or drivers parked in bus stop zones.

This enforcement mechanism will be key as the SFMTA looks to improve and expand its transit-only lane network in the coming years as part of the Transit Effectivess Project.

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Muni: All-Door Boarding Continues to Increase Bus Speeds, Fare Payment

Image: SFMTA

Seven months since Muni changed its policy to allow all-door boarding on all of its vehicles, the agency is reporting continued improvements in service and a drop in fare evasion.

On average, all-door boarding has saved buses up to four seconds of “dwell time” per stop, according to the SFMTA [PDF]. While that amount may sound small, the time savings add up on routes with dozens of stops. The improvement has been most pronounced on local lines, the report says.

Fare evasion, meanwhile, is down by 24 percent, according to the agency. When comparing the seven months of all-door boarding with the same months the previous year, the SFMTA says the fare evasion rate is down from 4.6 percent to 3.5 percent. The SFMTA also added 11 fare inspectors to increase enforcement with the launch of all-door boarding, bringing the total up to 53, since the new policy relies on random fare inspections rather than enforcement by Muni bus operators.

Mario Tanev, who led the all-door boarding advocacy campaign for the SF Transit Riders Union, applauded the SFMTA for implementing the policy change. “SFTRU has been a staunch advocate for all-door boarding and this report shows that when Muni puts its trust in riders, riders will return the favor,” he said. “Dwell times have gone down, and so has fare evasion.”

Tanev also noted, based on anecdotal evidence, that the change may have helped alleviate overcrowding, since riders boarding through the back door are more likely to fill up previously under-utilized space in the back, leaving more room for passengers in the front.

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Survey: SF’s Top Transpo Priorities Are Fixing Muni, Safer Walking and Biking

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San Francisco’s scarce transportation funds should be used to make streets safer for walking and biking, and to make existing Muni service more reliable before expanding it, according to city residents who were asked to choose how to prioritize public spending.

The findings come from the “Budget Czar” game, an online budgeting simulator recently used by the SF County Transportation Authority to survey the public about how to spend discretionary funds in the agency’s 25-year San Francisco Transportation Plan.

Of the $64 billion in transportation funding the SFCTA expects to spend over the next 25 years, just $3.14 billion — 5 percent — is not already committed to maintaining the existing state of street and transit infrastructure, or to transportation projects already in the works.

When the more than 800 “Budget Czar” participants were asked how they would spend that slice of the pie, they heavily favored improving the core of the existing Muni system rather than expanding it. Of the six spending categories that participants were asked to weigh in on, the top three where they want to see an “aggressive” increase in funding were bicycling (45 percent), walking and traffic calming (40 percent), and “Muni enhancement” (35 percent), according to an SFCTA presentation [PDF] last week.

“It’s great to see that the transportation priorities of the San Franciscans who played the budget game resonate so well with Livable City’s,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City.

“San Franciscans understand that investments in active transportation — walking and cycling — are cost-effective and sustainable, and deliver a range of benefits — improved health, neighborhood vitality, less traffic and pollution, a more equitable city, a safer city for children and seniors, and greater enjoyment,” he said.

Respondents also heavily favored improvements to existing transit service over more costly capital projects. The SFCTA laid out a list of 33 proposed transportation projects, including everything from new Bus Rapid Transit projects to new BART stations to removing the Central Freeway. According to an SFCTA report [PDF], the top-ranking projects were the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project, the Muni Transit Performance Initiative (a set of fixes for “key bottlenecks” like a Muni Metro turnaround at Embarcadero Station), the Better Market Street Project, and Geary BRT.

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POWER: Mobility for Low-Income San Franciscans Means Putting Transit First

The "stress and indignities of over-crowding." Boarding the 8x-Bayshore Express, Flickr user Confetti writes: "An older man is knocked down or falls in a scuffle to board an already over-crowded bus."

Advocates for San Francisco’s low-income communities have issued a new report calling for policy changes intended to improve Muni service, increase mobility for transit-dependent San Franciscans, reduce pollution from driving, and improve the city’s economy.

Next Stop: Justice” was released last month by People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a group that made headlines over the past year with its Free Muni for Youth campaign. The report highlights the disproportionate impact of poor transit service on San Franciscans who have few transportation options, calling for shifting policy and funding priorities from the automobile to public transit, more bus-only lanes, keeping Muni fares low, and scaling back fare enforcement.

Jaron Browne, POWER’s communications director, said the report is intended to increase the visibility of Muni’s role in improving equity, the environment, and economic opportunity in San Francisco.

“Public transit is already so pivotal, and will be increasingly pivotal for the way that the city functions as a whole, for the future of the planet, and for the way that our families in our communities can access all the resources and opportunities that our city has at hand,” he said.

The report includes “key strategies that we think would help facilitate having a robust transit system that’s well-financed and serves the needs of all San Franciscans, including working class bus riders and the transit-dependent,” added Browne.

Based on data on Muni’s reliability in low-income neighborhoods, POWER’s report states that “the on-time performance on each of these lines in Southeast San Francisco is significantly worse than the system average” of less than 60 percent.

While POWER doesn’t necessarily assert that Muni distributes transit service and improvements inequitably throughout the city, the group says system-wide problems like unreliable, infrequent service and overcrowding have a greater effect on low-income residents. “In transit-dependent, low-income communities, where folks don’t have other means to get around, the impact is more severe,” said Browne. “There are long commutes of more than an hour to get out of Bayview, even if it’s a distance that would only take 10 minutes to drive,” leading some families to pool their money and buy a car.

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Will CPMC Pick Up the Slack for Street Safety in the Neglected Tenderloin?

Jones at Turk Street. Photo: pbo31/Flickr

Despite living in one of the city’s densest residential neighborhoods with one of the lowest rates of car ownership, Tenderloin residents have endured some of San Francisco’s most dangerous streets for walking since traffic engineers turned most of them into one-way, high-speed motorways in the 1960s.

In a BeyondChron article yesterday, editor and Tenderloin Housing Clinic Director Randy Shaw spotlighted the city’s longstanding neglect of safety improvements and traffic calming on Tenderloin streets, even while such projects come to other neighborhoods. The SF County Transportation Authority’s Tenderloin/Little Saigon Transportation Plan, which was adopted in 2007 and calls for two-way street conversions and other upgrades for pedestrians and transit, has seemingly remained a low funding priority for the city, wrote Shaw:

While the city finds money for streetscape improvements on Divisadero, Upper Market, the Marina and other affluent neighborhoods, the city has not funded a single major Tenderloin pedestrian safety or streetscape improvement program in over thirty years…

San Francisco is actively creating more livable streets for pedestrians, bicyclists, local businesses and neighborhood residents. It’s a terrific development.

But what’s not terrific is denying the Tenderloin its fair share of transit funds. It is a blatant example of the city discriminating against low-income residents.

There is hope that most of the improvements in the Tenderloin Plan could be funded by California Pacific Medical Center in a development agreement with the city for its plans to build the massive new Cathedral Hill Campus at Geary Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue. However, with a revised agreement being negotiated behind closed doors that will likely be downsized from the original one, it’s unclear whether the new version will retain a requirement for CPMC to provide nearly $10 million in funding for street improvements to mitigate the impacts of inundating the Tenderloin with car traffic. ”Not only do the traffic impacts caused by the project require it,” wrote Shaw, “but transit planners still have no plans to allocate public dollars for calming traffic, improving streetscapes or doing anything else along Eddy and Ellis Streets” beyond the few blocks that have been converted to calmer, two-way traffic flow.

“Randy is rightly cross about the slow pace of implementing the Tenderloin transportation plan,” said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich. ”San Francisco’s traffic patterns tend to impose the greatest traffic burdens on neighborhoods like the Tenderloin, Mission, and SoMa — generally denser, poorer, and whose residents generate the least car traffic. The bureaucratic foot-dragging around reclaiming traffic sewer streets like those in the Tenderloin is both unjust and unsustainable.”

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SFMTA Pushes Red Transit Lanes on Church Street to January, Citing Rain

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What Church Street would look like with new transit lanes and a colorful reminder that cars are not allowed. Photo simulation by SFMTA.

Red-colored transit-only lanes on Church Street won’t come until some time in January, according to SF Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson Paul Rose, who cited rainy weather as the reason for the delay. The project would be one of San Francisco’s first to add transit-only lanes with colorful pavement to emphasize that they’re off-limits to drivers. Implementation was originally expected in September, but was pushed back to November to coordinate with a construction closure. “We need 72 hours of guaranteed dry weather to get the work done,” Rose said.

Part of the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project, the pilot on Church Street would dedicate the two center traffic lanes between 16th Street and Duboce Avenue exclusively to Muni trains, buses, and taxis. The SFMTA has only used colored pavement in one other location — on the light-rail lanes on Third Street. Church would be the first street to see colored pavement on a transit lane that’s also used by buses and taxis. SFMTA planners say the project should help reduce delays on Muni’s J-Church and 22-Fillmore lines on a section where Muni vehicles are often held up by private automobiles.

City officials also celebrated the completion of the Church and Duboce Track Improvement Project this month, which included replacement of Muni tracks for the N-Judah and J-Church, as well as a green bike channel and widened boarding islands, murals welcoming bicyclists to the Wiggle, and, most recently, an art installation that also functions as seating for the N-Judah stop. The SFMTA had tried to install the Church transit lanes during the project’s final construction closure, but said crews were unable to do so due to rain.

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Muni’s 76x-Marin Headlands Express Service Begins This Weekend

Image: SFMTA

The 76-Marin Headlands, a lightly-used route that has the lowest on-time performance of any Muni line, will be converted into a new route starting tomorrow that is expected to improve reliability, run more frequently, and better serve popular destinations. The revamped line, dubbed the 76x-Marin Headlands Express, will also run on Saturdays in addition to the old schedule of Sundays and holidays.

The 76x is expected to shave 15 minutes off the run between downtown San Francisco and the Headlands, with 19 fewer stops. The route’s SF terminus will be moved from the Caltrain Station at 4th and King Streets to Market and Sutter Streets. On the other end, the line will extend three-quarters of a mile to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

The line’s on-time performance has nowhere to go but up: It currently arrives at just 10 percent of its stops within the on-time window, defined as the period between one minute before the published arrival time and four minutes after. The overhaul of the line, approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors this month as part of the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project, should improve its reliability. Few people ride the 76, but this upgrade will help demonstrate the effectiveness of stop consolidation, a strategy that could improve performance on many more Muni lines.

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