Haight’s New Contra-Flow Transit Lane Gives Muni Riders a Shortcut

A new center-running transit-only lane on Haight Street between Laguna Street and Octavia Boulevard lets Muni riders bypass freeway-bound drivers. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The new contra-flow transit-only lane opened on the east end of Haight Street last week, providing Muni riders a red carpet that both eliminates a detour and whisks them past queues of auto drivers headed for the Central Freeway. As a longtime rider of the 71-Haight/Noriega and 6-Parnassus lines, my first ride on the new lane was elating — the boost it provides hardly exists anywhere else in the entire Muni system. You might say it’s truly “transit-first.”

Like the Polk Street contra-flow protected bike lane, this colorful piece of novel transportation infrastructure spans just two short but sweet blocks, yet has a much broader impact. Not only will the 71 and 6 run more quickly and reliably from now on, but bus riders are now spared from two body-swaying turns and a couple of stops.

The redesign also came with some additional safety bonuses, like bolder crosswalk stripes, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands, a re-paved roadway, and a road diet on Haight that eliminates dangerous left turns onto northbound Octavia Boulevard.

On what was a one-way block between Haight between Octavia and Gough/Market Streets, Muni has its own contra-flow lane that gives the 71 and 6 lines a direct shot. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Check out more photos after the jump.

Haight, looking west from Gough to Octavia at the new eastbound bus lane. Photo: Aaron Bialick
A 6-Parnassus bus turns left from Haight to Market, through freshly-striped “continental” crosswalks. Photo: Aaron Bialick
The project also included new curb extensions, like this one on the northeast corner of Market and Gough. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • Dark Soul

    Basing on the Long 71 Buses and 6 Parnasses BUS… picture taken on Saturday.

  • Bruce

    The main issue I’ve noticed with the new lane is that drivers turning left from westbound Haight onto southbound Octavia often block the intersection for eastbound buses, despite big “KEEP CLEAR” pavement markings. Better enforcement is needed.

  • Easy

    Nice! Keep ’em coming!

  • Justin

    Talk about Transit Preferential streets, this is a good example of it

  • Lego

    This really warms the cockles of my heart

  • KWillets

    This is a start, although motorists often back up past Webster in the morning. The plan for Haight St. muni improvements will interface with the third lane at Buchanan, and I’m hoping they’ll extend it further up.

  • Steve

    The issue is that cars have nowhere to go. The southbound block between Haight and Market is often completely full before the light changes for traffic on Haight.

    The light timing here needs to be fixed. For years, the lights have been timed to prioritize traffic on Page by leaving half the southbound block between Page and Haight empty so the buses don’t get stuck there forever.

    Now they need to prioritize traffic on Haight instead. If they leave more of the southbound block between Haight and Market empty, there will be sufficient room for cars to clear out of the intersection.

  • KWillets

    This morning there was an MTA officer directing traffic to stop motorists from blocking the box. Hopefully they can add a transit-only signal phase for a few seconds to let the bus through; that’s what’s planned further up Haight, but it’s a different project.

  • Bruce

    He’s been there for the past few days.

  • Reynolds Cameron

    Underground the north-south Octavia/Gough/Franklin/Van Ness freeway.

  • Reynolds Cameron

    Are you talking about Gough?

  • Steve

    No. Traffic turning left from both directions on Haight onto Octavia simply have no room to turn. Often there is only room 1 or 2 cars from each side, so instead of sitting there forever, most people stick out into the intersection. This wasn’t a problem before, but now there is a bus trying to cross the intersection filled with cars.

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