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Taraval to Get Boarding Islands at All Stops

Yesterday afternoon, the SFMTA Board agreed to install concrete boarding islands at all stops on the L-Taraval line as part of the L-Taraval Rapid Project. "This is a big win for pedestrian and rider safety," wrote Rachel Hyden, Executive Director of the San Francisco Transit Riders, in an email to Streetsblog.

Streetsblog readers will recall that in September of 2016, the SFMTA board approved concrete safety boarding islands on the L-Taraval line, but instructed staff to try a "pilot project" at the inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues.

The pilot was a compromise with merchants who didn't want to give up the handful of street parking spots that concrete islands require. The idea was to improve markings, rather than build concrete islands, to get motorists not to pass stopped streetcars that are loading and unloading passengers. The inbound stops in the list were picked because of a lack of incidents at them. Overall, however, some 22 people were hit in the past five years getting on and off the trains.

Pilot boarding zone on Taraval at 40th Avenue. Photo: SFMTA
Pilot boarding zone on Taraval at 40th Avenue. Photo: SFMTA
Pilot boarding zone on Taraval at 40th Avenue. Photo: SFMTA

But the deal with the merchants was that if motorists failed to comply with the improved markings, even those stops would get concrete.

And the results were clear: despite the markings reminding motorists that it is illegal to pass a train stopped at a station, compliance did not improve appreciably. "The compliance rate rose slightly, to 74 percent, up from 72 percent prior to changes. Since these measures failed to increase the share of drivers who stop to the 90 percent target rate, boarding islands will be installed at the pilot locations," wrote the SFMTA in its report. "In total, 36 parking spaces will be removed as a result."

The timeline for the project implementation. Image: SFMTA
Image: SFMTA
The timeline for the project implementation. Image: SFMTA

Advocates for safety and better transit didn't get everything they wanted, however, such as the elimination of sparsely used stops as a way to speed up run times. "Although we are a bit disappointed the Board couldn’t fully support better balanced stops along the L, we do recognize that the decision to remove stops is difficult and should not be done lightly. The Board came to a compromise," said Hyden. They voted to remove the inbound 35th and 17th avenue stops, "though 17th will be re-evaluated over the next 6 months. The 44th Avenue stops will remain for the time being, under the condition that they too will be re-evaluated in the coming months."

The SF Transit Riders full comments are available here.

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