Mission Transit Lane Removal Nudged Closer to Reality

Even though the pain dried only three months ago, there's already talk of removing the bus-only lanes on Mission. Photo: SFMTA.
Even though the paint dried only three months ago, there’s already talk of removing the bus-only lanes on Mission. Photo: SFMTA.

Last April, businesses on Mission Street started to gain some traction in pushing against SFMTA’s “red carpet” bus-only lanes, which they claim—contrary to the available evidence, it should be noted—are hurting their bottom line. The result: Supervisor David Campos asked the SFMTA to “make a radical shift in the program,” as he put it in a Facebook post.

The first step in that “radical shift” is now happening, and it may not bode well for transit advocates. According to an SFMTA release:

District 9 Supervisor David Campos and Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), today announced a series of activities to gather additional feedback on the Mission Street Improvement Project, which established bus-only lanes on Mission Street from 14th Street to 30th Street. The activities include a community hearing, merchant walks in the project area, and a survey of residents and visitors on Mission Street. The community hearing, to be held on June 20 at 6:00 PM at the Mission Cultural Center, provides an opportunity for community members to discuss their experiences and suggestions for improving the project.

The problem, of course, is public meetings on transit projects seem to attract a disproportionate number of, well, grumps. “One of the things that stands in the way is often times a small number of deluded people are the ones who show up. And they complain and their complaints may be irrational and factually incorrect. But because they show up, they’re the ones who win the day,” said Jeff Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy for Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, at an SF Transit Riders event.

"Red Carpet" lanes move closer to get removed. Image: SFMTA.
A rendering from last year of how the lanes now look, more or less. Image: SFMTA.

The SF Transit Riders, which campaigned for the transit lanes on Mission, has already come out strongly against any rollback. “For decades, riders have asked for transit to be rightfully prioritized and Muni finally listened,” they exclaimed in a prepared statement. “We hope that Supervisor Campos’s office, the community, and transit riders…can work with SFMTA to understand this project as crucial and necessary.”

That’s because, as the Transit Riders rightfully point out, a bus-only lane is a much better use of public road space—not because of some sort of transit idealism, but simply because it serves more people. According to SFMTA counts, each day Mission Street carries over 65,000 Muni riders and only about 8,000 cars.

It also makes Mission street safer, according to SFMTA’s data:

With eight full weeks of post-implementation results, Muni reliability has improved and travel time has dropped and continues to drop. Furthermore, Muni has seen only one collision in this corridor since late March. Prior to project implementation we experienced three to four per week, which hampered reliability and forced buses out of service.

That said, the transit-only red lanes on Mission aren’t perfect–this publication has taken SFMTA to task for running buses in the right lanes, which makes it tricky for bikes to use the street. “I think the biggest problem on Mission is that it’s a battle between vehicle traffic/parking vs. bike/ped safety,” wrote Walk SF’s executive director Nicole Ferrara, in an email to Streetsblog. “We could do a center running bus lane and outer bike lanes, but that would mean no car lanes….that’s the biggest hurdle.”

Still, anything that prioritizes transit over private automobiles is a step in the right direction and it would be most unfortunate if Supervisor Campos channels enough political energy to get the lanes removed.

Either way, Streetsblog readers might want to get down to the Mission Cultural Center on Monday, June 20 at 6:00 p.m. to speak in support of “keeping Mission Red.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Mission Businesses Tussle with Transit Advocates over Bus Lanes

|
Businesses in the Mission are complaining to Supervisor David Campos about the new “Red Carpet” painted transit lanes. And there’s already talk about taking them out. The San Francisco Transit Riders Union (SFTRU) reacted in an email blast last week: Starting in March, after a decade of numerous community discussions, planning and studies, Muni finally started […]

SFMTA Readies Limited Roll Back on Mission Transit Project

|
SFMTA staff has released its recommendations for compromises to its recently completed Mission Street transit upgrades. In addition to plans to relocate the outbound Cortland stop to the nearside of the intersection, the staff wants to move forward with (from the agency’s FAQ): Removing two of the required right turns on Mission at 26th and 22nd. This will […]

Mission Street Transit Lanes: What About the Bikes?

|
Earlier this week, the SFMTA sent out a release with a progress report on the “Red Lane” paint (actually, a thermoplastic adhesive) they are applying, clearly marking lanes for Muni Streetcars and buses (and taxis): Early signs indicate success. Preliminary data shows transit-only lane violations dropping by more than 50 percent on some segments of […]

Bikeway on Mission Street Would Cost More Than One on Market

|
Constructing raised, protected bike lanes on downtown Mission Street would cost more than building them on Market, according to SF Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin. The Mission bikeway proposal, which recently surfaced as an option to be studied in the repeatedly-delayed Better Market Street project, would entail abandoning long-sought bike safety improvements on Market, which is […]
The County Transportation Authority warming up for a long afternoon and evening of comments before the final approval of the EIR for Geary BRT. Photo: Streetsblog

Geary Bus Rapid Transit Study Approved by County Transportation Authority

|
Yesterday evening at San Francisco City Hall, the County Transportation Authority Board unanimously approved the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project’s design and Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The approval brings the $300 million project, which has been a decade in the making, one step closer to fruition. For any readers just getting up to speed on […]