SF red transit lane beloved by riders, but merchants unhappy

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s controversial red-painted transit lanes are beloved by many Muni riders, and the city’s transportation planners. But they’re not necessarily here to stay. The crimson lanes are, as the saying goes, only a test.

Results of the test are still being gathered, but federal transportation authorities are expected to rule within months whether the bright-red pavement can stay or whether the city will have to remove it and live with drab but conformist white lane markings and signs.

Officials with the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency gained permission from state and federal authorities in 2012 to color some street pavement red to make transit-only lanes more visible and to try to persuade car and truck drivers to stay out of them. New York and other U.S. cities are also experimenting with red lanes. San Francisco’s are not actually covered in paint, but rather an acrylic pavement treatment applied in sheets.

The New York experiment ended years ago when they failed to gather sufficient data. They also had a problem with double parking. Some of the streets in SF, I believe Church is one of them, are covered with paint and some with the thermoplastic, depending on whether they are concrete or asphalt.

Beginning in 2013, the MTA tested the idea on a short stretch of Church Street before rolling out what it calls “red carpet lanes” on stretches of other thoroughfares where heavy traffic causes delays for transit: Market, Geary, Third, O’Farrell, Haight, Judah and, perhaps most controversially, Mission between 14th and Randall streets.

Geary to Gough is on the list. Mission Street from Embarcadero to 11th Street was on the list.  In 2012, according to meeting minutes, the SFMTA representative specifically stated they would only be applying the test to streets that were currently transit-only lanes and were on the list. This proves, once again, you can’t trust the SFMTA.

In total, 17 San Francisco streets with existing transit-only lanes were approved for the red pavement test, as well as three that didn’t have reserved bus lanes. Not all of the stretches have yet been covered with red.

Anyone want to guess who is next in line?

“We shared our citywide plan with (state and federal officials) and they gave us the green light,” said MTA spokesman Paul Rose…

When and how was the application of the experiment to Mission Street past 11th approved?

This is typical of the SFMTA. Years after they start a process they inform the public. At no time, during any of their many public street design dog-and-pony shows  did they inform the public that they were planning to conduct a Red Lane test on our streets. When some of us discovered the truth of the matter and started to investigate and complain to the state and federal authorities they must have felt compelled to admit it.

We finally have an admission that THIS IS A TEST! THE RED LANES MAY GO AWAY! Where is the explanation for the test? What are they testing? How is the public involved in the test? If you want to know, keep reading and contact the links below.

Some of us went to Sacramento in December and saw first hand how the SFMTA operates. They started by trying to silence the public, claiming the public had no right to go to the state commission. More time went into that debate, (SFMAT lost that arguement.) than the actual presentation and discussion about the test that followed. Guess what? the SFMTA cherry picked a short blocks of two streets in the entire experiment to prove that the tests were being done as required. The analysis presented was more or less inconclusive.

If any one has anything to say about the Red Lane Experiment, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.  If you need help figuring out how to file a complaint, or want to join the fight against the Red Lanes, let us know. Here are two sites that are dealing with the problem and trying to stop the spread of red lanes in San Francisco:   http://www.redcarpetmess.org and http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

Continue reading

Fight Over Mission Street Transit-Only Lanes Still Red-Hot

The $3.8 million SFMTA project designating lanes on Mission Street bus- and taxi-only, a system used on Market Street and other thoroughfares, was enacted with the stated goal of reducing congestion and transit times while increasing safety. It’s still too soon to know what the long-term effects of the changes, which SFMTA Transit Director John Haley called “exciting stuff” during their inception, will be, but the reduction of parking on Mission Street has become a red-hot issue for local residents and businesses.

Drivers, naturally, have made their objections known, and small business owners have also argued that the limits on parking have driven customers away. The controversy has yet to cool off: Last night, many critics met with the SFMTA board of directors, where the rhetoric grew purple.

“This is just one more act of violence that the people in the Mission feel,” Mission Local quotes one resident, Mary Eliza. “When their primary street, with the district name on it, is violated in this way without really taking into consideration the needs of the community, you’re going to have a problem.”

“They’re not going to come back,” Eden Stein, the owner of Secession Art & Design on Mission Street, told the meeting. “From 16th to Randall there has been a loss of business, and a lot of businesses can’t wait months for changes to happen. Businesses are going to close down. We need some action.”… (more)

I attended the community meetings with staff after the red paint went down on the Mission Street and the forced turns turned the street into a nightmare. Both Reiskin and Campos were at the first meeting where I asked what the Mission Street project cost. I was told $6 million dollars. I asked how much it cost to add a bus line to the route and was told $1. I suggested a better way to serve the Muni riders with less negative effects on everyone else would be to put more buses into service. As it is now, the buses rolling down the red carpet, are packed to the gills. Standing room only. That brings me to wonder just how fast buses should go with standing passengers. That leads me to question the need to speed up the buses on Mission Street.

You can see by the amount of animosity evident in the comments and the negative reception SFMTA staff are facing in other neighborhood meetings, (we heard hissing and booing in the Sunset), that the invasion of an entire neighborhood is not going to be ignored by anyone in San Francisco any more. Residents may have been sitting ducks for a while but now they are perking up and noticing each little change they see and most of them are freaking out over anything they don’t like.

The time has come to demand SFMTA roll back the red carpet and paint it black. They need to pave and fix the potholes in the street before they lay any more paint or pour any more concrete. All MODES are effected negatively by the potholes, so they can use their bike funds to fix the the potholes before they paint any more bike paths.

SF businesses seeing red over new transit-only lanes

By : examiner – excerpt

Few foods are as synonymous with Mission Street nightlife as bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

The tantalizing smell of sizzling meat often emanates from Leo’s Hot Dogs, a 19th and Mission streets cart run for more than eight years by husband and wife Adan Gonzalez and Lucero Munos.

“Sometimes when people show up when they’ve had a few drinks, she makes them dance!” Gonzalez said of his wife, smiling, through a Spanish-speaking interpreter Wednesday.

Gonzalez has less reason to smile nowadays. Leo’s may be kicked off its Mission Street corner following the roll-out of one of The City’s new red-painted transit only lanes, the latest in a growing trend of businesses resisting the transit lanes.

San Francisco police told Gonzalez his permit to operate was no longer valid because of the new red Muni lanes, he said. The lane was installed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Mission Street from 14th to 30th streets in late February.

“Vendors, such as this, can receive a permit from Public Works to occupy a parking space. In this case, one vendor is located in the new right turn pocket, not the transit lane,” said Paul Rose, a spokesman for the SFMTA.

But the new turn changes accompanied Mission Street’s new red carpet lane. Cesar Ascarrunz, a former mayoral candidate and owner of Leo’s Hot Dogs, said the SFMTA did not contact him about any needed permit changes.

The lanes are for bus and taxi use only, to help transit avoid double parked cars and vehicles waiting to turn. The SFMTA has publicly said these are among the key ways Muni is snarled.

This newest conflict rises as SFMTA’s red Muni lanes meet resistance elsewhere in San Francisco.

On Taraval Street, a proposal to create a transit-only lane to speed up the L-Taraval was critiqued by neighbors for only saving two to three minutes per trip on the L. Those who supported the lane noted that two to three minutes adds up quickly for the line’s 29,000 daily riders.

In February, the SFMTA decided to implement the transit-only lane as a pilot.

And earlier this year, the agency backed off installing a red lane on Chestnut Street in the Marina that was intended to speed up the commuter-heavy 30-Stockton and 30X lines. Nearby businesses were worried a reduction in parking spaces would drive customers away.

Ariel Kelley, the past president of the Marina Community Association, was a key neighborhood negotiator with SFMTA throughout the process… (more)

Interesting that the SFMTA’s survey differs so radically from the merchants survey. They must be asking different questions of different people. We need details about how the surveys are conducted.

Telling business  how to conduct their business is not the business of the SFMTA. They work for us. We don’t work for them.

We are not surprised that the SFMTA has an anti-business attitude when it comes to small businesses and local merchants because they are part of the plan to displace the citizens and the non-tech jobs and rid the city of the unworthy citizens. We get that. Everyone else is starting to get it too. First they took our parking, then they took our cars, now they are taking our jobs and homes. What is left?

Muni gets red carpet treatment on Market

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Market Street drivers are going to start seeing red on the roadway very soon.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will start painting red transit-only lanes Friday night on Market Street between Fifth and 12th streets to let drivers know that the lane is for Muni use only.

Work for the $1.8 million project will begin from 10:30 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. on Saturday, which will require a partial lane closure of the eastbound track lane of Market Street between Fifth and Mason streets…

The westbound center lane of Market Street — currently open to all vehicles between Steuart and Eighth streets — will become transit-only from Fifth to Eighth.

The SFMTA has already painted red transit-only lanes on Church Street, Third Street and on Geary Boulevard and O’Farrell Street transit-only lane… (more)

Drivers are already seeing red. They will get to have their say in November when they vote to Restore Transportation Balance to the city. Having learned not to trust the SFMTA to do the right thing with bond money, many will not support the $5oo million bond measure either. That one needs a two thirds  majority to pass.

Here is a good example of what SFMTA does with bond money:  5 Fulton Capital Improvements

Red MUNI-only lanes coming to Church Street

californiabeat.org – excerpt

Beginning Saturday, a three-block stretch of Church Street will become part of an experiment to expedite service on two of San Francisco’s busiest and chronically late transit lines.
The city’s Municipal Transportation Agency will convert the two center lanes of traffic — one in each direction — of Church St. between Duboce Ave. and 16th St. for use exclusively by MUNI vehicles and taxis 24 hours a day.
Courtesy SFMTA
The pilot program will call for the lanes to be painted red to make them more visible to motorists who might otherwise drive in them and risk being ticketed for entering the transit-only lanes… (more)

J Church Rapid Pilot

sfmta.com – excerpt

…This proposal aims to reduce delays and improve service reliability for Muni’s J Church trains and 22 Fillmore buses by allowing Muni vehicles to bypass traffic congestion and access transit stops more quickly…

(more)

Transit First Policy Amended by Prop “A” (approved 11/6/2007)
SEC. 8A.115.  TRANSIT-FIRST POLICY.
2.     Public transit, including taxis and vanpools, is an economically and environmentally sound alternative to transportation by individual automobiles…
4.     Transit priority improvements, such as designated transit lanes and streets and improved signalization, shall be made to expedite the movement of public transit vehicles (including taxis and vanpools) and to improve pedestrian safety.

Painted transit only lanes set for Church Street

By Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

A pair of painted transit-only lanes — the first of their kind in The City — are set to debut next month on a notoriously congested section of Church Street, an approach likely to be adopted on other busy arteries…

Other roads slated for painted transit-only lanes:

  1. Fulton Street, 5-Fulton
  2. Park Presidio and 19th Street, 28-19th Avenue
  3. 16th Street, 22-Fillmore
  4. Columbus Avenue and Stockton Street, 30-Stockton
  5. Judah and Irving streets, N-Judah
  6. Mission Street, 14-Mission
  7. San Bruno and Geneva avenues, 8X-Bayshore Express

Source: SFMTA

(more)

Someone should remind the SFMTA that Prop A* includes taxis and vanpools  in the list of vehicles allowed to share transit only lanes. We assume they will follow this policy.

Someone should inform the SFMTA that the above entities are meant to supplement Muni , and should be encouraged  to cover slow routes that Muni is dropping so as to continue to serve the transit needs of the public.

Transit First Policy Amended by Prop “A” approved 11/6/2007
SEC. 8A.115.  TRANSIT-FIRST POLICY.
2.     Public transit, including taxis and vanpools, is an economically and environmentally sound alternative to transportation by individual automobiles…
4.     Transit priority improvements, such as designated transit lanes and streets and improved signalization, shall be made to expedite the movement of public transit vehicles (including taxis and vanpools) and to improve pedestrian safety.