Muni’s New 5L-Fulton Limited Gets High Marks From the Twitterverse

Photo: ## Pragides/Twitter##

Update: See photos of the Fulton road diet between Stanyan and Baker Streets at the end of the article.

If there’s anywhere you can find a cynical view of Muni service from frustrated riders, it’s Twitter. But riders of the new 5L-Fulton Limited line seem to be tweeting nothing but glowing reviews of the new express service, which Muni launched Monday to speed up trips and reduce crowding.

The 5L is part of a pilot project package of line upgrades and complements the 5’s existing local service, which also had some excess stops removed to speed up trips. The 5L runs 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. Muni planners predict the 5L should run 11 percent faster than the existing local service (and 17 percent faster on the limited-stop stretch alone).

Also part of the project is a road diet on Fulton between Stanyan and Baker Streets (see photos below), which reduced the number of lanes while widening the remaining ones to accommodate buses safely. In addition, some bus stop zones were extended to allow two buses to load at once.

Complaints on the 5L seem to be few and far between, while tweets like these paint the 5L as a resounding success:





Fulton Street, seen here looking west from Central Avenue, was reduced from four traffic lanes to two wider lanes to better accommodate buses and a center turning lane. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Fulton, west of Central to Baker, also had traffic lane markings ground off between the street's two westbound lanes, combining them into one wider lane. The 5 doesn't run on this section, and it wasn't originally included in the road diet plan, but the change seems to have helped calm traffic. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • bourbon

    Funny, I took this bus today without realizing it was new. I overheard another passenger comment that it makes a lot of stops for a “limited” service, and I have to agree. The main reason I didn’t enjoy my experience though was because the bus was full of screaming, shrieking kids. When I am old and they ask me why I never had kids, I’ll blame it on the 5-l.

    In idea though, SF needs more limited service bus lines!! It is the only way to make transit tolerable and efficient. Until then, people who can afford cars will use their cars, and people who can’t will be stuck enduring grueling commutes.

  • Jim

    Perhaps limited service should begin at 25th Ave or Park Presidio, rather than at 6th. With MTA planning to install bypass wires along the 5, perhaps they should also consider installing another turnback near one of those locations. It would be great as it would further decrease travel times to Downtown.

    The only reason why the 5 local runs to 8th during the day is because that use to be the 21 terminal. Plus it is closer to the Presidio division, so it is less expensive to deadhead from 8th when a driver’s shift is over rather than from a more westerly terminal.

  • Jesse

    With the amount of time to perform studies, solicit public input, deal with resistance (parking trolls) and gain final approval by a myriad of city institutions, it’s amazing this actually went through. My guess is they had to scale it back to ensure it passed. Hopefully with it’s success they can be a little more bold next time.

  • Anonymous

    I took this bus yesterday. More outreach needs to be done (ie. have signs that say the bus is a 5L by the back doors, since two kids who boarded from the rear yesterday didn’t realize it was a 5L until they got to their intended stop and were not allowed off). Also, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see a comparable speed improvement. It took 20 minutes to get from Van Ness to Park Presidio (similar to travel times on the 1 covering the same distance,but then again, the ROW for the 1 is mostly wider), and the bus was trailing the 5-local up until Stanyan, when it was able to get around by using the adjacent lane.

  • Bob Gunderson

    16 of the 144 parking spots were removed just to save 19,000 people 10-20 minutes off their commute? This is an OUTRAGE.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    We do, but we also need some real transit. Line 14 in Paris travels 6 miles in 13 minutes, including 10 stops (~ every 0.5 mile, about the same spacing as the 5L). That’s the equivalent of Embarcadero to Ocean Beach in 15 minutes.

    Nobody in the city would drive if we had a system like that.

  • Guest

    Doesn’t sound like an outrage, sounds like this is working well so far. 16 out of 144 spots sure isn’t a lot of parking being removed or just 11% of parking in this case if you getting somewhere 10-20 minutes faster, that’s a good deal! Getting somewhere 10-20 minutes faster is such a big difference as opposed to removing 16 parking spaces out of 144 spaces

  • #smartcommuter

    Sounds like some good ole’ sarcasm you got there. Much appreciated Bob.

  • Dustin

    I’m not sure where the examiner got their parking supply #s. It’s true that about 16 parking spaces were removed, but the supply of parking along the entire 5 Fulton corridor, which is about 7 miles long, is far more than 114 spaces.

  • Dustin

    This is a 12-month pilot project related to the Transit Effectiveness Project, which does propose more capital-intensive measures including bus bulbs and replacing 4-way stop signs with traffic signals or traffic calming measures, in addition to building overhead bypass wires to run both the 5 and 5L as electric trolleys. Learn more here:

  • Bob Gunderson

    I don’t let facts get in the way of my outrage.

  • Bob Gunderson

    But that was someone’s god given parking spot that they rightfully deserve! Oh won’t someone think of the children, the children!

  • Jesse

    Awesome! The success of this pilot program should gain a lot of traction and credibility to the TEP program.

  • Guest

    Huh? No parking space is a god given right, and the children, don’t see the meaning of that

  • gneiss

    Guest, Bob Gunderson is the Stephen Colbert of Streetsblog.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    How is that possible?! If they stop for 15 seconds at each of those ten stops, then they need an average travel time for the rest of the way of 36 mph. Given that you have to accelerate and decelerate at each stop, that probably means you have to be getting up to 50 mph in between stations. You’d need to dig a subway tunnel the whole way for that, which seems like it would be difficult to replicate for any but the busiest routes.

  • Anonymous

    It definitely would require subway, but the 38 Geary is the busiest route in the system at 55k/day, the combined ridership of the 38, 1, 2, 3, and 31 (within a 10-min walk of 38), ridership is around 100k/day. Add to that the increase in people who would ride this line if it could get you downtown in under 10 minutes from the inner richmond, and you could easily see that number almost double and provide true alternatives to driving, not just during commute hours.

  • Daniel

    The 5L is a good idea, but they really need to move the bus stop back to Baker from Lyon. I think it’s fine to get rid of Central and Broderick, but Baker is a natural stop with a bunch of businesses on that corner. The Lyon stop is right in front of a bunch of residences, as well as a church, where parking is important, especially on Sundays. I’m not sure about the pluses or minuses of bus stop changes in other neighborhoods, but really, please get rid of the Lyon stop and reinstate the Baker stop. It’s common sense.


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