Dangerous plan afoot to narrow and slow 16th Street traffic access to Mission Bay

The other day as I walked down 16th Street to the BART station I witnessed a traffic jam on 16th Street and shot some photos as the drama unfolded.  There was a repair truck stopped in back of the bus and three people directing traffic around it. There is a single East facing lane on 16th Street now and two West facing lanes so traffic may pass the broken bus without too much trouble now.

As you can see by looking at the photos, the traffic builds up rather fast when a lane is stopped. An ambulance came up 16th Street while I was there and it was directed around the stopped traffic, but stopping the other lane, but, I realized how difficult it would be to maneuver traffic around a broken bus if there was a BRT or separated lanes as the SFMTA plans for 16th Street.

Separated roadways, swerving traffic in narrow lanes do not slow traffic down it makes drivers mad and creates obstacles for the buses and larger vehicles. This is not a safe way to manage traffic.

Please stop this insane constant construction and destruction of our streets! Vote Yes on L and tell the SFMTA to back off. Leave the bus stops and return the service they cut. Stopsfmta.comStopsfmta.com

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Game-changer bus for San Francisco’s notoriously slow Muni system nears its debut, but not everyone’s on board

By Lauren Hepler : bizjournals – excerpt

After 13 years, the rubber is (almost) ready to hit the road for Bus Rapid Transit. Advocates say it’s like getting a new train service at a fraction of the cost, but detractors worry that everybody else will get taken for a ride.

A new kind of bus, heralded as a game-changer for San Francisco’s notoriously slow Muni system, is closer than ever to making its debut.

On Oct. 24, construction crews are set to begin laying the groundwork for the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit project on a two-mile stretch of Van Ness from Mission to Lombard streets. Essentially public bus service on steroids, the $159 million project promises to cut travel times by a third.

With exclusive lanes for buses, coordinated traffic signals and new elevated stations in central medians of major thoroughfares, BRT is designed to speed things up in a city where buses travel at an average of just 8.5 miles per hour. The aim is to add more frequent buses on BRT routes, and put them on a timetable that reflects reality…

Not far behind Van Ness, which is projected to start serving passengers in 2019 for the same regular $2.25-a-trip fair as existing bus lines, are projects on Geary and Geneva streets…

A 9-mile project from Oakland to San Leandro is also on the cusp of breaking ground. The $178 million project slated to be up and running in late 2017 is projected to serve riders at an operating cost of $8 per passenger, compared to $31 per passenger for light rail, said Robert Del Rosario, director of development and service planning for AC Transit.
BRT’s economics have transit agencies around the region moving full steam ahead to map out more routes, cobbling together funding and predicting major development implications near new bus stations.

“All of the cities are really focused on in-fill development,” Del Rosario said. “They’re hoping it’s smart development that doesn’t bring more cars.”…

However, the budding BRT boom has reinforced a familiar Bay Area adage in a big way: Planning something isn’t the same as building it. BRT has taken 13 years just to get to the brink of construction in San Francisco; many residents, businesses and commuters are less optimistic about the benefits than transit planners, and have sometimes used the political process to throw sand in the gears.

Familiar concerns about parking and ease of travel by car, plus logistical challenges like a widening scope of work, have plagued the Van Ness BRT project and others. So have more obscure obstacles, such as a successful last-ditch effort in September to halt work so that historic beige and gray trolley poles in the area could be preserved…

One predictable reason it’s been slow going is consistent backlash from car owners since San Francisco voters in 2003 approved the Proposition K sales tax hike to fund transit improvements like BRT.

Giving up two lanes of traffic and losing turning privileges on central arteries like Van Ness aren’t appealing — but they’re necessary, McCarthy argues. Areas targeted for BRT are also already high ridership for transit, with the 47 Van Ness and 49 Mission/Van Ness bus routes serving an estimated 16,000 customers per day, making them prime opportunities…

The report also estimates that 19-34 percent of auto traffic will likely be displaced by BRT to parallel streets, other times of day or alternate modes of transportation. Intersections around Gough and Hayes streets, as well as Franklin and O’Farrell streets, were projected to see the most noticeable delays starting at 30 seconds per car…

Look no further than San Jose for a real time example of how projects can be derailed in progress. Last September, the South Bay’s Valley Transportation Agency had to fire its contractor on a $114 million BRT project after a busted gas line, cost overruns and permitting issues.

In the Mission, meanwhile, a step toward BRT with so-called “red carpet” lanes for both buses and taxis have drawn the ire of local businesses and residents cut off from the lanes this spring.

“The changes look better on paper than in practice,” Supervisor David Campos said in an April statement, citing complaints from car owners in his district…

The area around the Van Ness corridor, zoned for a mix of high-density combined residential and commercial usage, is projected by the county to gain 12,208 households by 2035, or a 28 percent increase from pre-2000 levels. Planners are hoping to capitalize on that momentum by making it easier to move through the area, particularly given its dual appeal as a tourism connector…

Features of the new BRT corridor on Van Ness Avenue include:

  • Dedicated transit-only lane, for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses only, that is physically separated from mixed traffic lanes
  • Enhanced traffic signals optimized for north-south traffic with Transit Signal Priority that keeps buses moving by holding the green light
  • Low-floor vehicles and all-door boarding for quicker and easier loading
  • Safety enhancements for people walking including shortening crossing distances with sidewalk extensions and median refuges, zebra-striped crosswalks that make people more visible, audible countdown signals and eliminated most left turns from Van Ness Avenue (except northbound at Lombard and southbound at Broadway)
  • High-quality boarding islands at consolidated transit stops located at key transfer points.

 

 

 

Muni riders defend Mission ‘red carpet’ lanes

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Those seeing red over the new transit only “red carpet” lanes along Mission Street are now facing backlash from bus riders.

Led by the advocacy group San Francisco Transit Riders, supporters of the lanes are sounding off by creating a social media campaign called #KeepMissionRed.

The controversial bus and taxi-only lane stretches along Mission Street from 30th to 14th streets, and comes packaged with a number of turn restrictions that have frustrated drivers.

Also, Mission district shop owners the San Francisco Examiner spoke with said they saw a dip in business since the lanes were painted in February.

But Andy Bosselman, a spokesman for the transit riders, said they don’t want to see transit improvements sacrificed.

“The streets we have need to move more people,” Bosselman said. “That means prioritizing transit and bikes. Unfortunately, these changes affect drivers and we know without doubt that drivers are going to scream and holler.”

The 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness, two heavily trafficked commuter lines, are already speeding up because of the lanes, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Despite the outcry, the red lanes aren’t going anywhere — yet.

“No changes to report at this time,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. But Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the Mission, has called for community meetings about the lane…

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“We have committed to continue to work with Supervisor Campos’ office to coordinate an additional meeting with the community to listen to their concerns and make additional adjustments, if appropriate,” Rose said.

Campos said in a Facebook post that he’s heard from many frustrated Mission district businesses who’ve had problems with loading zones, as well as drivers who’ve seen “traffic jams” since the red lanes were installed.

“The changes look better on paper than in practice,” Campos wrote.

Rose noted that 60 percent of people get to the Mission by transit and only 12 percent by car.

“Riding (Muni) is much faster/smoother with the new transit lanes,” Jamison Wieser, one of the many to sound off using hashtag #KeepMissionRed, posted to Twitter.

Others using the hashtag on Twitter said buses are “key” for low income families.

A survey conducted by the SFMTA before the red lanes were installed found that 63 percent of 500 residents polled were neutral about bus only lanes.

Bosselman said the SFMTA is often hamstrung by public anger.

“The result is that every project gets watered down,” he said, “The entire problem the project tries to solve ends up getting little or none of the intended benefit.”… (more)

SFMTA just announced their number priority is MODE CHANGE. If your number one goal is to stop traffic to force people out of their cars, painting red lanes all over town is essentially a great way to evict cars, and the people in the cars.

If your number one goal is to promote the economic viability of the Mission and avoid displacing the merchants and residents who live in the Mission this plan will not make your happy. Just like every other political argument we have in San Francisco, it all comes down to one thing. Do you support displacement or preservation of our San Francisco culture than celebrate freedom to choose.

Commuters Voice Mixed Feelings About Mission St. Changes

By missionlocal – excerpt

San Francisco’s Mission Street is undergoing significant transformation in the coming months, but there is skepticism among drivers and bus riders that the changes will be for the better.

As of last Friday, several bus stops along the corridor including those at 15th, 19th, 21st and 23rd streets had vanished. The city will now begin turning one of the lanes in each direction into a bus-only lane, with painting expected to be completed at the end of April. Beginning in March, left turns off of Mission Street will be prohibited, and northbound drivers will be required to turn right off of Mission at 26th, 24th, 22nd and 20th streets.

The response to these changes on social media was swift and angry: “Nooo,” “Horrible,” “This is terrible,” or simply, “Grrrr.”

Others had more specific complaints.

“They got it backwards. You start implementing transit first after you have a transit system,” wrote Daniel Bucko on Facebook.

“Who do we have to vote out of office to make this go away?” wondered Facebook user Gary Siegel.

After the changes were announced, Dave Smith, a Mission resident dedicated to reducing dangerous crashes on South Van Ness Avenue, wrote an incensed letter to the transit authority’s head Ed Reiskin. Now he wrote, even more drivers will be diverted to the notoriously high-injury corridor.

“You, due to your negligence have created an unsafe situation on South Van Ness Ave. and it will only get worse once you limit cars on Mission St.,” Smith wrote. “It makes zero sense to funnel traffic from Mission St., which is commercial, to South Van Ness, which is mainly residential in nature.”…(more)

Why are city officials approving spending money on controversial programs like this? As someone who works late at night pointed out, Mission is not a safe street to walk on in the middle of the night, and he fears for the safety of his co-workers. We have a growing homeless population living on the streets of our city while the SFMTA waste millions of dollars needed to house them. Who indeed do we need to fire to set the priorities straight?

Why does Muni BRT Silence Community?

SFCTA Denied the Public from Speaking Because their Plan Doesn’t Hold up to Public Scrutiny… (more)

We support StopMuniBRT.org because we deserve to have a say in our future… (more)

According to Zabe Bent, the TA planner who was recently assigned to the Geary project, implementing Muni transit improvements will range from $45 million to $200 million, depending on the option chosen. She said construction would be taken in small chunks, like a “street repaving project,” which would take six to eight weeks to complete… (more)

Citizens are fighting back against elements of street alterations they disapprove of. SFMTA continues to ignore the Muni riders and pedestrians requests, regardless of what they suggest. Citizen groups are forming to protest their treatment and use of their taxes, as they grow weary of the constant construction and demolition of their communities.

Taxpaying groups are fighting the most expensive version of every design option that comes up. Why spend $200 million on a project that the public doesn’t want instead of spending $45 million on the one they approve of?

22 Fillmore Public Hearing, Oct 30

Friday, October 30, 10 AM Public hearing
City Hall, Room 416, 22 Fillmore Transit Priority Project references  

An engineering public hearing will be held on October 30 for those interested in providing additional feedback on the final 22 Fillmore Transit Priority proposals. If you are unable to attend, submit comments on the proposed changes by emailing ksustainable.streets@sfmta.com with the subject line “Public Hearing.”

More information about the hearing, including the agenda, will be available online by Wednesday, October 21.

If this goes through it will be impossible to access or exit the 16th St Safeway parking lot entrance. You may still be able to get to the lot via Bryant or Potrero, but it will probably be too difficult to deal with. Good luck.

22 Fillmore update

Shortcuts By Steven J. Moss : potreroview – excerpt

Muni Moving
: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will not be altering the 22 Fillmore route, as previously reported in Short Cuts. However, Muni will launch a new bus line, the 55 16th Street, to provide connections along 16th Street between the 16th Street Bay Area Rapid Transit station and Mission Bay, in part to serve the new University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital. The new 55 line will serve all 22 Fillmore bus stops on 16th Street between Mission and Vermont streets, with additional stops on 16th Street at Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Fourth streets. The line will operate seven days a week from approximately 6 a.m. to midnight, with a 15 minute weekday daytime frequency… (more)

That is what they are saying. Latest plans were online but they appear to have disappeared. If you care about the details, go to the Open House Wednesday, January 14, 6-7:30 PM at Marshall Elementary School 1575 15th Street. If you Can’t make it  Take the project survey and voice your opinions.

 

RELATED:
Wednesday, January 14, 6-7:30 PM
22 Fillmore Marshall Elementary School 1575 15th Street, San Francisco
If you Can’t make it? Take our project survey! Join SFMTA to learn more, engage with SFMTA staff, ask questions, and share your thoughts! Your feedback is important as we work together to build a strong project for the community. This looks like just a presentation with no feedback. The feedback will have to be comments to the SFMTA Board prior to the next meeting on January 20, where they plan to approve the plan. Copy the Supervisors. (contact SF officials)

 

 

Councilmembers Worried Eliminating El Camino Lanes For Rapid Bus Could Congest Downtown Palo Alto

Mike Colgan : cbslocal – excpert

PALO ALTO (KCBS)— Parking could be getting even harder to find in downtown Palo Alto. Valley Transit Authority (VTA) is proposing that one lane in each direction on busy El Camino Real be dedicated for rapid buses.

The El Camino Real BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) Project would eliminate more than 250 parking spaces. The Palo Alto City Council voted Monday night to oppose the proposal. City Councilman Pat Burt said it would also result in more gridlock.

“When we looked at it, the number of additional cars that might come off the road as a result of slightly faster bus rapid transit is far fewer than the number of cars that would be displaced from El Camino and driven onto side arterials like Alma that are already near gridlock,” Burt said.

He said councilmembers support BRT, but not if it means giving up one traffic lane… (more)

Thankfully some council members are more realistic than the VTA. If you already have gridlock, taking away traffic lanes will not solve that problem.

Oakland merchants seek help as bus lanes limit car traffic

By Will Kane : sfgate – excerpt

You can’t sell dishwashers to people who ride the bus, Oakland merchant Vincente Soto said.

And when Oakland closes half the lanes of car traffic along International Boulevard from downtown to the San Leandro BART Station and replaces them with a bus-only transit lane in the next few years, Soto said his customers won’t be able to drive to his store, or find parking.

“My customers will be competing with residents for the parking spaces around here,” Soto said through a translator. “The residents will be taking my customers’ spaces.”…

Transit advocates say the bus lanes, called bus rapid transit, or BRT, will speed the commute along busy, congested International and offer a local, neighborhood alternative to BART… (more)

This sounds like a familiar argument used everywhere for establishing BRTs. How many alternatives do people need or want? The locals contend with fears that the rents “might go up.” You can bet on that.

 

On the Merits of Bus Rapid Transit

by Daniel Adel : earthisland.org – excerpt

Light rail might have a certain cool cachet, but buses are the way to go

There has always been something romantic about trains. Think of the passenger rail of a century ago and you likely imagine classy sleeper coaches and fancy dining cars. Even the commuter rail of decades past – streetcars and interurbans – seems to possess a glamorous vibe. Maybe it’s just the fact that everyone dressed better back then, but once upon a time commuters rode in style.
Yet I wonder if our sentimentality for rail is keeping public transit stuck in the past. There seems to be a feeling that buses are “substandard” – second class – when compared to “genteel” rail. This is unfortunate – especially in an age in which mass transit funding is stalled. Our cultural bias for rail over busses is especially counterproductive given that, when we carefully examine the facts, buses are a smarter investment.
Just look at the successes of what’s called Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT…
Given that building a light rail system can cost up to 10 times as much as creating a BRT system, why are American cities still so focused on rail?… (more)

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