San Francisco Wants More Transportation Options

Chamber of Commerce Poll Looks at Concerns and Wishes of San Francisco Voters

San Franciscans want more subways, according to poll. Photo: SFMTA
San Franciscans want more subways, according to poll. Photo: SFMTA

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A majority of San Francisco voters want more subways, more bike lanes, more buses, and more investment in Caltrain, according to the 2018 Dignity Health CityBeat Poll, released by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Support for extending the T-line from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf and bringing Caltrain to the Transbay Transit Center was especially strong, with 78 percent and 77 percent in favor.

Results from the CityBeat poll show strong support for transit projects and majority support for dedicated bike and bus lanes, even if it means removing motor vehicle lanes. Image: CityBeat Poll
Results from the CityBeat poll show strong support for transit projects and majority support for dedicated bike and bus lanes, even if it means removing motor vehicle lanes. Image: CityBeat Poll

Jim Lazarus, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at the Chamber, told Streetsblog the poll indicates that San Franciscans are likely to back local funding measures for transportation. “The city is clearly interested in some of these major long-term projects,” he said, adding that people are also taking a more favorable view of Muni compared to last year. Support for dedicated bus lanes is also up from last year’s poll.

“The overwhelming support for more subways, the support for transit-only red lanes, and the support for a sales tax to pay for better transit shows us this is a real political moment to push forward for the world-class transit system we need in San Francisco and the Bay Area,” wrote Rachel Hyden, Executive Director of the San Francisco Transit Riders, in an email to Streetsblog. “We’re excited to keep advocating for awesome transit in a city that is becoming so much more supportive of the idea.”

A rendering of the planned downtown extension of Caltrain to the Transbay Transit Center. Image: Transbay Construction Authority
A rendering of a previously planned downtown extension of Caltrain to Transbay. 77 percent of respondents want a link built. Image: Transbay Construction Authority

Removing traffic lanes to install more bikes lanes also had majority support, albeit a little more tepidly, with 47 for and 46 percent against. That’s statistically unchanged from the previous year’s poll, when removing automobile lanes to add bike lanes polled at 49 percent for and 47 percent opposed.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, however, said their own polls show overwhelming support for safe bike infrastructure. “We found 87 percent of San Franciscans agreeing that ‘bicycling in San Francisco should be comfortable and attractive to people of all ages,'” said Chris Cassidy, SFBC spokesman. “The bottom line is that San Franciscans know biking is good for the city and, by and large, want it to do more and do better at making biking more accessible for more people.”

Meanwhile, a narrow majority of San Franciscan voters who responded believe the city is going in the right direction. However, there is increased concern about the cost of housing and a belief that crime is getting worse.

From a Streetsblog perspective, the poll is a just further indication that a majority of San Franciscans are ready to move beyond a car-centric future for the city and want to get around on and experience streets geared for bikes, walking and transit. But that doesn’t mean getting a local funding measure passed is going to be easy, as advocates discovered last year with the failure of Proposition K.

“These survey results are hugely encouraging to us. San Franciscans are clear that they are fed up with parking and traffic, and are ready to invest in a more robust transportation system as a real alternative to driving,” wrote Hyden.

The poll was conducted on 500 San Francisco voters. For more details, check out the PDF.

  • 🚇 These responses are consistent with how citizens have voted over the years, including a nonbinding resolution in support of extending Caltrain to the TTT. I would not take Prop K as an indication of lack of support for funding; the dialogue around that was that the city has a big enough budget already.

    The wording of the last question is unfortunate.

  • Walt

    “From a Streetsblog perspective, the poll is a just further indication that a majority of San Franciscans are ready to move beyond a car-centric future for the city”

    No doubt, but that wasn’t what the poll asked.

    If you ask people if they would like a brand new subway system then of course they will say that they do. You might as well ask them if they’d like a new hospital, or less crime, or more apple pie.

    The more important question is whether they would still want that when the costs are taken into account, along with higher taxes, construction nightmares like the Central Subway, and so on.

    Likewise, ask people if they’d like more bike lanes and they will say yes. Ask them instead if they want to lose parking and have more road congestion and delays on the road, and they might give a different answer.

    The poll didn’t ask about cars and driving, so you cannot assume that people are anti-car in general just because they might like a new subway and a few bike lanes. Being pro-transit doesn’t mean being anti-cars.

  • So, a poll of 500 SF voters provides valuable insights on what we want? How about the Prop that was voted on and passed years ago to extend Caltrain to the TTC? That’s right…nothing’s been done, which clearly indicates that the city couldn’t care less about what its residents want or solving the problem of moving people in and out of its borders.
    You can dream all you want but at some point you have to own up to the reality of the situation.

  • Kieran

    Hell, so many things can be done to improve transportation in San Francisco…For example, when this Van Ness BRT(which should’ve been a subway) is completed, the 49 should be sped up through the Inner Mission significantly. That would entail having a City College-bound 49 for example, crossing Mission instead of making a right turn, staying on Van Ness til it hits Howard.

    Then it turns right on Howard(which becomes South Van Ness after crossing the Central Freeway), takes South Van Ness all the way to 26th st where it then zig zags onto Mission down to City College….Whereas a 49 headed toward Aquatic Park would turn off Mission st at 25th st, zig zag onto South Van Ness and take that north til after it crosses the Central Freeway.

    By doing that, it’d stop every 2 blocks, hence at 14th st, 16th(especially for people to connect with the Bart station and the same thing at 24th st). With the 49 running down the much wider South Van Ness, that would make the 49, 14 and 14R all faster overall.. Also, this would entail making the lights along South Van Ness transit signal priority for the 49 to give it as much efficiency as possible.

    This is one of the many things that can be done to make transportation much more useful in San Francisco

  • p_chazz

    A majority of San Franciscans do not want more bike lanes–only 47%, while 46% are opposed. Assuming the margin of error of this poll is +/- 2% it’s safe to say that San Franciscans are equally divided on the issue.

  • Van Ness BRT is only between Van Ness and Lombard, correct? I never read anything about the 49 running down South Van Ness with fewer stops.

  • keenplanner

    I don’t know why the VN BRT stops at Lombard. It would make sense to run it up Lombard as well.

  • Walt

    Not only that, but SVN is really the only viable north-south vehicular thoroughfare in the Mission, now that Valencia and Mission have been redesigned to be much less friendly to cars, and the streets East of there have a ton of stop signs.

    The 49 should stay on Mission where we put those red lanes in that confuse everyone.

  • keenplanner

    More cars and more parking = more congestion, more dangerous streets for cyclists and pedestrians, and more noise and more polluted air. What San Franciscan would vote for that?

  • Walt

    And that result was from a poll that didn’t even address the drawbacks of bike lanes, e.g. cost, loss of parking, increased vehicle congestion and so on.

    Phrase the question in a balanced way and it probably would have lost, given that about 3% of SF voters get to work by bike versus about 60% by vehicle.

  • Walt

    Maybe the 70% plus of SF voters who live in a household that has at least one car?

    Just a wild guess . .

  • Kieran

    By up Lombard, you’re not meaning the hill, right? I’m just checking there..If you mean down Lombard toward the Presidio, I agree..It’d be good for the 28 to have transit signal priority now that it’s going on Lombard and turning around at the foot of Van Ness.

  • Stuart

    What San Franciscan would vote for that?

    People who think that ‘not car-centric’ and ‘anti-car’ are synonyms. Like RichLL here (“Walt”, previously “CroatianSalt”, previously…).

    Fortunately for the rest of us, his belief that voting patterns on transit policy can be mapped directly from car ownership numbers or commute mode share numbers never seems to match reality. (E.g., he likes to claim that support for converting traffic lanes to protected bike lanes should be something like 3% because of bike commute mode share, and yet here that exact question got ~50% support).

  • David

    The 49 (or its predecessor, at least) used to run on South Van Ness. However, it makes much more sense to run frequent bus service on a single street (Mission Street in this case) than to spread it out across multiple parallel streets (Valencia, Mission, and South Van Ness). That’s why Muni moved the 49 to Mission, got rid of the 26, and added service to the 14R…

  • Kieran

    Yup..BRT is only between Van Ness and Lombard..The reason you haven’t heard this proposal is because I thought it up myself. I figure with Mission being 2 lanes and choked with traffic(not to mention the 14 R, 14 and 49 are mostly 60 foot accordion buses) it’d make sense to put the 49 down South Van Ness seeing as how it’s wider and still close to Mission. That leaves both 14 lines to in turn operate faster along Mission since the 49 is just east on South Van Ness.

  • 94110

    “Removing traffic lanes to install more bikes lanes also had majority support”. Nope. While I support bike lanes, that poll seems to show plurality support rather than majority.

  • Kieran

    Points well taken but I still think the 49 should run on South Van Ness..It’s not like South Van Ness would even get those red lanes in my proposal. The traffic lights would simply be set up to let the 49 get priority. Plus as I already stated, South Van Ness is wider, so it won’t cause any significant traffic jams between the 49 and autos.

  • Kieran

    By the 49’s predecessor, I think you mean the R Howard trolleybus. I definitely understand why the 26 was eliminated and why Muni consolidated it all to Mission and added buses to the 14R. I still think the 49 should run on South Van Ness. As I already stated, Mission st with 2 lanes and 3 lines using 60 foot accordion buses is a big reason why there’s traffic choking it(along with trucks/cars, bikes, etc)..

    Think of it like this, yea? If you’re on a 49 bound for Aquatic Park in the afternoon, starting at 25th and South Van Ness, to where it crosses Mission and South Van Ness by the Goodwill, it’ll take half the time either 14 line would because of wider streets, less stops, less vehicles in the way and traffic lights giving it priority over cars.

  • No, this poll says what I want it to say, when I want it to say it.

  • p_chazz

    I would have the 49 stay on 26th Street to Guerrero, then left on Guerrero, San Jose, then via the Monterey Blvd. exit off San Jose to Circular, Judson, Phelan to City College.

  • Kieran

    That’s very interesting..I have never thought of that…I like that idea…Hahah it’d piss a lot of riders off but I think as long as it’d have transit signal priority both along South Van Ness and Guerrero, San Jose, Monterey and Phelan. It could be pretty efficient. It’d also end up serving the Glen Park BART station which would be pretty useful…

  • Kieran

    Not only that, I think they seriously need to bring in consultants from Amsterdam, Germany, etc That way bike lanes can be made that make sense and are properly protected, which would then create a cohesive network..I mean, the way it is now, you have a handful of good bike lanes in the city and the rest are crap because they’re not built effectively.

    With bike lanes that are actually effective and planned out in a way that makes sense, biking would then be a very sensible thing to do pretty much anywhere in the city..Obviously what I’m suggesting has a small chance of happening but still, that’s my take on it.

  • Walt

    You have failed to address my central point, which is that just because people say they want better transit does not mean that they want a war on cars. But the article makes that leap of inference.

    In fact autos are just another form of transit and, at least in the US, the overwhelmingly most popular one. It really is woefully unimaginative of you to conflate being pro-transit with being anti-car. I support both.

  • Roger R.

    Good point.

  • In the 18 years I’ve lived here all I can say is that there is a lot of talk going on (read: SPUR) and very little happening. I’m talking a generation’s worth of discussion and lament. Meanwhile, development continues to explode not just in SF, but the entire Bay Area, with little (or no relief) in sight for transit, autos or cyclists.

  • PaleoBruce

    > And that result was from a poll that didn’t even address the drawbacks of bike lanes, e.g. cost, loss of parking, increased vehicle congestion and so on.

    Be fair, there is the possibility that bike lanes can result in decreased motor vehicle congestion. In many cases, a person traveling by bicycle is one less person traveling by automobile. Also, “loss of parking” translates to “loss of free or subsided” parking. It’s tricky to chose fair wording for the question: Do you want to get something for free? Because, who doesn’t love ‘free’ things. It actually is a question of best use of public land, and the trade off of having a traffic lane accommodation for bicycles versus storage space for private automobiles. Also please don’t discount the life safety issue, and re-engineering public streets is proven to help reduce pedestrian fatalities, which is a genuine problem needing attention, and traffic calming with bike lanes are a part of that solution.

  • PaleoBruce

    > Van Ness BRT(which should’ve been a subway)

    BRT costs about $10M per mile and a subway costs $300M per mile. 30x more expensive.

  • Doing nothing costs $0 per mile. So, what’s your point? Invest tens of millions of dollars in a project that won’t solve any problems? Subways, light rail, BRT, etc. all serve a wonderful purpose if used in the right situation.

    And, for the record, the Geary BRT project is slated to cost $300M which is significantly higher than $10M/mile.

  • Kieran

    I’m well aware BRT is cheaper..That doesn’t make it the right choice simply because it’s cheaper, though….@disqus_LTe9tFCdxI:disqus has pretty much said what I was going to say for the most part..

    Though I will leave you with this-If you want to see a real example of BRT done right, look up Sao Paulo’s BRT and the BRT in Bogota, Colombia, for example…I’ve read up extensively on them and seen clips when available…If San Francisco did BRT correctly I wouldn’t have a problem..

    Read up on the numerous Brazilian cities that have BRT(including Sao Paulo) here. The buses average 12 mph in their protected lanes in Sao Paulo, while Muni overall(when it comes to local bus routes, not rapids or expresses) averages what, 7 mph at best? Maybe 6 if we’re being realistic..

    Colombia’s is here..Though the Bogota BRT doesn’t have transit signal priority(which they at least admit is their only real flaw) the rest of it is really good

    However the Van Ness BRT stops at Lombard when it should stop at Bay st. Also, if it were a subway with a north terminal at Van Ness and North Point sts(say if the 47 and 49 still ran, though upgraded with perks such as transit signal priority at each light but with the subway underneath to help balance the passenger load) originally instead of BRT, then it could, for example after traveling the length of Van Ness(with a connecting station at Van Ness/Market for the Muni Metro), go east down 16th st with its 1st stop at 16th/Potrero since that shopping center’s damn busy.

    It’d have another stop around 16th and Rhode Island sts so it could connect with both the 10 and 19 buses as well as serving the people in the area and surfacing roughly a few hundred feet after the Owens and 16th st intersection and terminating at the 16th/3rd st intersection.

    From there, there’d be turn-off tracks going either direction(the right turn would take them to Metro East while the left turn would be used sparingly. Though there would be platforms a good 300 feet long on 16th st at the 16th/3rd st intersection which would be able to handle people leaving a game at the Warriors arena and wanting to head home.

  • John Dunlap

    Here is a wish list:
    (1) Close off Market to cars and make Market more of a bike street other than the F Line.
    (2) Move more Market Street busses to Mission and Howard.
    (3) Folsom is flat, so with that feature make it a major thoroughfare for bikes, but allow some traffic as they currently do. One way to downtown in the morning and the opposite in the pm. Of, if people don’t like that make Howard the major thoroughfare for bikes leaving in downtown.
    (4) Van Ness should have been be a MUNI underground system from MLK to Fishermans Wharf’s F-Line.
    (5) Add Muni surface rail along Bryant and/or Branan St similar to the T-Line.
    (6) Fell and Lincoln are under utilized. A combined line should go all the way to the ocean.

  • PaleoBruce

    > So, what’s your point? Invest tens of millions of dollars in a project that won’t solve any problems?

    Won’t solve any problems? Don’t be silly.

    Big picture, mass transit can solve the transportation problem of private automobile congestion in a city. And of course costs will vary with complexity, but there is little doubt that a surface level project (assuming there is surface space for the right-of-way) will be vastly cheaper than working underground.

  • Stuart

    If RichLL wanted to be fair, rather than just relentlessly anti-bike, he wouldn’t be claiming that a poll that asked about removing general traffic lanes to add bike lanes was ignoring tradeoffs.

    But as usual, he’s more interested in his pre-decided narrative than actual facts.

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  • BRT is cheaper in the short term than LRT because part of the operating budget is accounted for differently (as road maintenance, along with cars). Rail takes more capital outlay but is more efficient long-term, though generally tallied up in the same account. Subways are of course even more capital outlay, but their long-term benefit does catch up and exceed those costs.

    We voted with 1989’s Prop B to extend Muni Metro up Geary, which was understood to be like the existing Metro system: LRT, possibly some undergrounding. In a few short years, hucksters for BRT wowed people with a song and dance about lower costs and quick deployment. Here we are, nearly 30 years later, instead quibbling over red paint.

  • (3) Folsom and Howard are already major thoroughfares for bikes, though both get trickier at the Temporary Transbay Transit Terminal. Howard also gets closed or diverted for conventions.

    (4) That would be nice, but it’s a State Highway and thus another level of bureaucracy.

    (6) It was a great idea back when Adolf Sutro did it, and it’s a great idea now!


San Franciscans want more subways, according to poll. Photo: SFMTA

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