Eliminating the 26-Valencia, a route with low ridership and parallel service only a block away on Mission Street, would save Muni an estimated $2.4 million. But three members of the MTA Board expressed concerns at their meeting this week about staff's proposal to eliminate the 26, and it followed public testimony from a few riders who worried they wouldn't have a convenient way to get to St. Luke's Hospital.
Director Cameron Beach led the charge, saying he wants to see the line kept in place from 5th and Mission to at least Glen Park Station: "It provides an alternate service for seniors and disabled on the Mission corridor and as somebody mentioned today, it also provides the most direct service to St. Luke’s Hospital." Directors Jerry Lee and Bruce Oka said they agreed with Beach's remarks, and Chair Tom Nolan said staff should figure out a way to keep direct service to the hospital.
Julie Kirschbaum, the MTA program manager for the Transit Effectiveness Project, told the Board that not eliminating the 26 would be a challenge "because it represents so many resources."
"What we are recommending is that we re-route the 27 so that it does go right past the hospital. It would provide connections from both downtown and the Inner Mission to St. Luke's Hospital," she said.
It will ultimately be up to the Board to decide whether to keep the 26. Staff's final recommendations on how to deal with a $129 million deficit are due out early next week. The Board is expected to adopt a final budget next Thursday, and then it goes to the Board of Supervisors.
Bryan Goebel is a reporter at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. A veteran journalist and writer, he helped launch Streetsblog SF in 2009 and served as editor for three years. He lives car-free in the Castro District.