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West Portal

Advocates React to Watered-Down West Portal Plan

The political 'compromise' still allows drivers to cross over the railway junction, assuring future delays and maintaining extensive conflict areas between motorists, transit vehicles, and pedestrians

The new West Portal plan from SFMTA, after merchants were permitted to water it down.

SFMTA released its amended "final" plan for West Portal on Thursday.

Streetsblog reached out to several people in the advocacy community who have pushed for safety in West Portal to get their response to the new plan. Here are the statements from three relevant advocacy community members. Be sure to also check out Streetsblog's commentary on the watered-down plan.

From the San Francisco Transit Riders

San Francisco Transit Riders is disappointed that the West Portal designs announced by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Myrna Melgar yesterday are so watered down compared to the original proposal.

Pros of this new design:

  • Speed bumps, concrete islands, pedestrian crossing beacons, and the pedestrian plaza will improve safety by slowing down cars.
  • A new turn restriction on Vicente will get cars out of the way of trains and reduce conflicts with pedestrians.


  • Removes five out of eight proposed turn restrictions, which would have moved people making transfers out of the way of moving cars.
  • Cuts ~70% of the proposed transit lanes, which would have improved access for the thousands of Muni riders who log 50,000 trips on West Portal's lines each day.

By SFMTA’s own admission this proposed design includes more areas of vehicle-pedestrian conflicts than the original plan and provides the least improvements to transit performance. This contradicts the guidance of the SFMTA Board that the final plan should prioritize safety. SFMTA’s leaders have an obligation to uphold the agency’s safety goals and our city’s Transit First Policy. 

Examples from San Francisco and around the world show that street safety and transit reliability are good for business. The designs proposed today, while an improvement over the current street design, do not go far enough to address the safety or transit reliability improvements that are needed at this important transit hub. It is frustrating that our city's leaders have allowed a small but loud group of merchants to delay and gut a good proposal that would have improved life for thousands citywide. We urge the SFMTA board to approve the original design and work to identify further treatments that can make West Portal Station a world-class transit hub.

From KidSafe SF

KidSafe told Streetsblog they are working on a longer statement, but provided this comment in the meantime. Check back for updates.

KidSafe SF is pleased to see that the proposed plan for West Portal includes traffic calming interventions across the entire neighborhood. We thank SFMTA for being receptive to feedback about the need for a more holistic approach to traffic calming as well as continuing to recommend that dangerous left turns be restricted in three places along the West Portal Avenue corridor. While not visionary, this proposal represents an improvement for traffic safety in West Portal.

However, in a Transit First city, we think it is a mistake to remove the private vehicle turn restrictions which will make transit in this transit-oriented neighborhood more reliable for the 50,000+ people who travel to and through West Portal daily.

From independent sustainable transportation advocate Luke Bornheimer

This design is yet another weakening of the original design proposal, which itself was a weakening of the solution supported by over a thousand people in the weeks after the Oliveira-Pinto family was killed.

The original proposal called for the intersection of West Portal Avenue and Ulloa Street to be closed to cars and for physically separated Transit-Only Lanes to be installed on both streets to 15th Avenue. If Mayor Breed, the Board of Supervisors, and SFMTA were serious about addressing our roadway safety crisis, addressing the climate crisis, and living up to the City's Transit-First Policy, Non-Automobile Mode Share Goal, and Vision Zero Goal, the City would have implemented the original proposal months — or years — ago. This design proposal is the latest evidence that the City lacks leadership, vision, and accountability, especially as it relates to streets, transportation, and climate action. We need leadership on these issues now.


Although the agenda isn't yet published, the West Portal decision should be made at the SFMTA board on Tuesday, July 16, at 1 p.m., Room 400, Floor 4, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

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