San Francisco Transit Riders is developing and advocating for a Rapid Rider Network. We want to see a network of Rapid lines that reaches every neighborhood in San Francisco, that has skip-stop spacing, that arrives at least every 10 minutes, running end-to-end across the city in 30 minutes by 2030.
After several months of outreach on the street, at workshops, and at community meetings, we are ready to push for Rapid service on three lines: riders want the 22 Fillmore and the 29 Sunset to have overlaid Rapid service (a 22R and a 29R). The T Third is supposed to be Rapid, but is slow and unreliable. Riders want to see it arrive frequently and reliably, and take somewhat less than an hour to get to Civic Center.
The 16th Street Improvement Project is about to give the east-west portion of the 22 Fillmore a face lift from Church Street to 3rd Street. The route will be straightened out to run smoother and faster and better connect to Mission Bay. (The 55 16th Street will be re-routed to better connect Potrero Hill and the Caltrain Station at 22nd Street.) Fortunately, the current plans take into account possible eventual Rapid service. So once the construction is done, it would just take some paint, signage, schedule updates, and of course vehicles and operators to make a 22 Rapid a reality on that section.
Our group looking at making a 22 Rapid happen discussed the various constituencies impacted by the 22 Fillmore route, including UCSF Mt. Zion and Mission Bay, Japantown, the Fillmore, the African American Art & Culture Complex, and various senior centers.
Since the 16th Street portion of the route is practically Rapid-ready, the main tactics to make it actually happen would center around building public support by:
- Reaching out to the community and the Board of Supervisors to build support for the project.
- Posting flyers around stops
- Community outreach and tabling
- Making the case clear: Rapid service would save riders time, and would improve access to the various resources and communities along the route.
Constituencies along the 29 Sunset route include a ton of students (City College, Lick Wilmerding High, SF State, Balboa High, St. Ignatius, Gianini Middle School, Burton High, and Lowell), as well as merchant corridors (Irving St., Geary Blvd, Stonestown, Ocean Ave, San Bruno, Mission/Excelsior). The 29 Sunset connects riders to BART, to Bayshore and Caltrain, runs through quiet residential areas (including mixed-income and public developments), and connects key outdoor areas (McLaren Park, Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, and Baker Beach).
The 29 Sunset is a very long, somewhat crooked line. It runs through areas with no traffic lights but a lot of stop signs and pedestrian crossings. It runs on narrow streets, making it a challenge to figure out where a Rapid bus can pass a local bus. On and around 19th Ave., the route deals with heavy traffic and delays related to left turns. There are a lot of different pedestrian crossings. The off-peak bus frequencies are very erratic.
Some proposed solutions:
- Increase frequency
- Improving Lincoln Way area by limiting left turns for cars
- Transit priority signals that flash red like a 4-way stop, then turn green for the bus
- Fewer stop signs
- Bus stop consolidation
- Travel on a parallel street in areas where space is limited or traffic is particularly challenging
- Optimize transfers, make sure transfer points are easy and make sense
- Transit-only lanes on 19th Avenue, possibly run on M train tracks
- Express segment on 19th Avenue with no stops
- Advocacy with retail and merchants, like Stonestown
- Parking removal (or a lighter version: peak hour no parking zones)
- A different line to connect Ocean Ave. to Stonestown directly
There’s an opportunity now to push for real change to the T Third. No one is really happy with the T Third design and performance. Too many compromises were made during the original design, and the result is investments in track, train, and platforms that don’t deliver what they could and should. The current supervisor, Shamann Walton, is a vocal advocate for improvement, and the route travels through a major development and fast-growing neighborhood. A lot of eyes are on this corridor, and now is the time to make it work as it should.
We are focusing our attention on the stretch from King Street to Sunnydale, as the rest of the line will be subject to other changes with the opening of the Central Subway, hopefully within a year.
In this southern stretch, stops are too close together along much of the route. Traffic signals and the priority signal system need upgrading. Signal priority is currently dependent on fixed sensors buried in the track to detect a train and provide signal priority, rather than a real-time responsive wireless signal. Basically, the fixed sensors don’t know there’s a train until it’s at an intersection, likely already stopped at a red light.
Trains operate in mixed traffic, there are many left turns allowed across the tracks, slowing trains down in traffic congestion and causing collisions, so in addition to very real injuries to people and damage to vehicles, service ends up being very unreliable. This past Friday, service was stopped for almost an hour when a collision trapped an adult and two children in their car. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But these all too regular crashes are avoidable with better street design and separating cars from the trackway.
Some proposed solutions:
- Restrict left turns on 3rd Street. SFMTA is about to restrict left turns at 4th & King Streets, which is estimated to save about a minute.
- Push for a bold transit signal priority policy at SFMTA. Again, it is a waste of resources and poor transit service to invest in trains and tracks, and not provide trains with priority at intersections. Especially in areas with low foot traffic, a train should not be held by a pedestrian signal cycle that no one asked for. When pedestrians do request a cross signal, that signal should be held if a train is approaching.
- Separate tracks from traffic. There is a considerable stretch where tracks exist in a traffic lane.
- Remove a parking lane, to preserve two lanes of cars next to the dedicated trackway.
- Consolidate 2 traffic lanes down to 1 lane next to dedicated trackway.
- Try metering lights or something similar, to prohibit cars from entering the shared lane/trackway when a train is coming, and to allow them in the lane after a train has passed.
- Upgrade lighting hardware to assist transit signal priority.
- How can we get money from large employers and developers to improve transit where it’s needed, not just where the employers are located?
Next Steps — Jump On In!
If you’re not already a member of San Francisco Transit Riders, please join us and support our work! One perk of membership is access to our google group, where campaign ideas are shared and developed, and member organizing happens. Or, sign up for our Google calendar to stay on top of what’s happening when.
- Transit Week 2019, September 7–13, is a great time to focus press and community attention on these priorities. Help us envision, plan, and execute awesome actions and events! Planning meetings are every other Tuesday. If you can’t make a meeting but have ideas and want to get involved, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- August 13, workshop to use the tools built by our friends at Swiftly to look at historical headways and data around bottlenecks on the T, the 22, and the 29. Stay tuned for details.
- Late August workshop in the Bayview to fix the T Third. Stay tuned for details.
We can’t launch these campaigns or do all this work alone — the more you can pitch in, the more we can do, so sign up today to get involved!
For more context, see our story on Making Muni Rapid.