New red-colored transit lanes are slated to be implemented on a section of Church Street in September in a SF Municipal Transportation Agency pilot project to speed up the J-Church and 22-Fillmore lines. Following the T-Third line, it would be the second time San Francisco has used colored paint on transit-only lanes to help clarify that they’re off-limits to drivers — one of the practices used in cities like New York and London in recent years to make transit faster and more reliable.
Staff from the SFMTA’s Transit Effectiveness Project will hold a public meeting on Monday evening to explain the proposal, which would create red transit lanes on Church between Duboce Avenue and 16th Street — one of the “slowest portions of both the J Church and 22 Fillmore lines,” according to an SFMTA flyer [PDF]. As many Muni riders know, on streets like Church and Market, cars in front of transit vehicles – moving or parked – are a common cause of delay. Transit lane violations are rampant, especially on streets like Market, where drivers often prevent buses and streetcars from loading passengers at boarding islands, forcing them to wait until the next traffic light cycle.
“Separating public transit from private vehicles has been proven again and again to make trains and buses go faster,” said Ben Kaufman of the SF Transit Riders Union. “We hope that this pilot program proves to be a success and will lead to many more of these treatments. This is just one part of moving towards a rapid transit system in our city.”
At the hectic intersection of Church and Duboce, removing private autos from the center lanes could also help reduce confusion, as drivers approaching from the south currently merge from two traffic lanes into one lane on the north side of the intersection.