Today the SFMTA released documents which outline its initial proposals for how to improve reliability of Muni and decrease travel times. The proposals are a response to the data collected over the past one-and-a-half years via the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), Muni’s first attempt in a couple decades to study how its riders use the system — where riders are coming from, where are they going, which stops are used, which stops are not used, where the most popular transfer points are, and so forth. In its broad outlines, the proposals recommend concentrating more resources to improve the most popular core routes while consolidating, rerouting, and discontinuing less popular routes. The MTA board will evaluate the proposals later this spring to jumpstart the environmental assessment process, with the goal of implementing at least some changes as early as next year.
TEP classifies all Muni routes according to a four-part hierarchy, which provides a framework to evaluate which routes should be updated and what sort of changes should be implemented:
1. The Rapid Network: 75% of Muni’s ridership is carried by Metro rail operations and key bus corridors, including Geary, Van Ness/Mission, Stockton, and 19th Avenue/Park Presidio. The MTA aims to use these high demand corridors as the skeleton of a citywide rapid network, which would feature more frequent and faster limited service. Headways on these routes would ideally be 5-10 minutes or better to reduce waits and overcrowding.
2. The Local Network: These routes are more lightly used than the “workhorse” rapid routes, but they fill in the blanks by connecting to and complementing rapid routes. Some lines that fall in this category run very near and directly parallel to rapid routes but provide direct service to commercial districts (e.g. 2-Clement, 19-Polk, 21-Hayes), while others facilitate crosstown connections (e.g. 29-Sunset, 33-Stanyan). Target headways on local routes is every 10-15 minutes.
3. Community Service: These routes mostly serve the hillside neighborhoods (e.g. 37-Corbett, 67-Bernal Heights) and are used by neighborhood residents to connect to rail or high frequency bus lines; the proposed changes include realigning service onto more intuitive routes and eliminating service in the most unpopular sections. Target headways for community service routes is every 15-30 minutes.
4. Special Service: This category includes ballpark shuttles, the 76-Marin Headlands, and peak hour express buses. Service will be slightly modified on some of the express buses, and the Richmond District expresses (1AX/BX, 31AX/BX, 38AX/BX) would feature an additional stop at Van Ness.
Interested in more specific information on route changes? It’s all after the jump.
Some overdue changes are in store for “Rapid Network” routes; in general, shorter headways on all rapid corridors and the introduction of additional and more frequent limited routes that run on extended hours (6:00 am to 10:00 pm). Here are a few of the more specific changes:
- Muni Metro: The J-Church will be extended past Balboa Park to San Francisco State, while the M-Ocean View will terminate at SF State. More frequent service at peak on the L-Taraval and N-Judah.
- 5-Fulton: A new 5L limited service will be operated along Fulton. Local service between downtown and Stanyan would be supplied with a short line service. The long line service would run local east of Van Ness and west of Stanyan, with limited stops between Stanyan and Van Ness.
- 6-Parnassus: The 6 will be extended to West Portal Station and realigned to serve Carl and Cole to duplicate inbound N-Judah service on the surface.
- 9/9X-San Bruno: The 9 will be realigned in conjunction with proposed elimination of the 56. The three different express services (9X, 9AX, 9BX) will be combined into all-day 9X service, and 9X service would be discontinued north of Broadway.
- 14/14L-Mission: The 14 is extended to Daly City BART. Local service would be reduced, but limited service will run more frequently and on expanded hours.
- 22-Fillmore: The 22 is realigned to terminate at UCSF Mission Bay campus.
- 28/28L-19th Avenue: The northern section of the 28 would be replaced with the 28L, which will have fewer stops and will be extended to Van Ness. A long-term scenario extends the southern terminus of the 28L to Visitacion Valley.
- 47/49-Van Ness: As a precursor to the Van Ness BRT project, Muni will run more frequent service on Van Ness and add a new 49L limited service. The 47 will be realigned between Market Street and Caltrain, to serve Mission and 3rd/4th Streets.
- 71/71L-Haight Noriega: More frequent and extra limited service added midday.
Here are the major realignments proposed for local network and community service routes (note- this is fairly comprehensive but not a complete list):
- 2-Clement: Service on the 2 would be eliminated west of Park Presidio, with a short line added to increase frequency east of Presidio Avenue.
- 12-Folsom/Pacific: Given ridership patterns, the current alignment of the 12 makes little sense. Under the new plan, features of the current 10, 12, and 19 lines would be combined to provide direct service between Chinatown/Financial District and Caltrain/Potrero Hill/Bayview, via 2nd and Sansome Streets. A short line would increase frequency in the core section between Caltrain and Chinatown.
- 18-46th Avenue and 23-Monterey: The 18 and 23 lines would be combined, connecting the Outer Sunset and Richmond to Glen Park BART and the T-Third.
- 19-Polk: The 19 would no longer traverse a lengthy route between Fisherman’s Wharf and Hunters Point but would instead be recast as a downtown loop, running on Polk as it does now, but also serving Folsom, the Financial District and North Beach before looping back to Fisherman’s Wharf. Headways on the 19 would be reduced, and the southern portion of the current 19 will be covered by the new 12 and possibly a realigned 48.
- 21-Hayes: The 21 is shortened to terminate at Fulton/Stanyan; headways would be reduced at peak.
- 24-Divisadero: The 24 is rerouted along 24th Street to connect to BART and to provide more frequent service between 24th/Potrero and 24th/Castro. The line will terminate at the T-Third. Bernal Heights service on the 24 would be replaced by the new 33-Stanyan service.
- 27-Leavenworth/Harrison: The new 27 line would run in two-way operation through the Tenderloin, in accordance with the Little Saigon neighborhood plan. In the Mission, the 27 realigns off of Bryant and onto Harrison, connecting to 24th Street BART and providing more service along 24th Street.
- 33-Stanyan: There are two proposals for this line. One proposal completely realigns the 33 to skip the Mission District and instead serve Noe Valley and Bernal Heights, terminating at the T-Third’s Palou Station. The other option continues through Potrero Hill, duplicating 22-Fillmore Service along 16th Street, and terminating at the T-Third.
- 35-Eureka and 37-Corbett: In addition to some street alignments and a reassigning part of the 37 to the 35, two options are being considered for the 37: one option terminates at Castro Station, while the other is extended along 18th Street, terminating at 16th Street BART.
- 45-Union/Stockton: The 45 would be extended past its current terminus at 4th/Townsend to provide service to Potrero Hill that would be missing under the 19 downtown loop.
- 48-Quintara/24th Street: There are decreased headways planned between 24th/Castro and 24th/Potrero, but there are two proposals for alignments. One option makes a Dogpatch/T-Third connection, while the other option duplicates 19 service.
Concentrating resources onto the major routes necessitates reduction in service on more lightly used routes: not just shifting and removal of bus stops, but also discontinuing of suboptimal routes. The proposals recommend elimination of the following routes:
- 3-Jackson and 4-Sutter: These lines run directly north of the chronically overcrowded 38-Geary, and are natural candidates for cuts because they far less popular than the 38, usually being crowded only at peak hour. According to the proposal, the 3 and 4 would both be eliminated, while the lowest ridership segment of the 2 (west of Park Presidio) would be eliminated. The short line version of the 2 would run as far as Presidio Avenue, adding additional frequency to make up for the loss of the 3.
- 7-Haight: The 7 is a peak hour-only service running on a portion of the 71/71L route. The 7 would be eliminated, and the 6-Parnassus would be rerouted to serve the westernmost section of Haight Street.
- 10-Townsend: Eliminated and replaced by the new line 12.
- 20-Columbus: This line, which was introduced in the pandemonium following the T-Third debacle, will be eliminated and replaced with the new 19 downtown loop.
- 26-Valencia: The 26, which lies just one block west of the powerhouse local/limited bus and BART corridor along Mission, is also a natural line to cut. The 36-Teresita would be extended to terminate at 30th and Mission to cover service along Chenery cut from eliminating the 26, aligning along Monterey to connect to Glen Park BART. 36 service south of Monterey is eliminated. Other changes to the 36 are covered either by the 43-Masonic or the 52-Excelsior.
- 53-Southern Heights: This line will be eliminated, but service will be replaced by changes to the 12-Folsom and 45-Union/Stockton.
- 56-Rutland and 66-Quintara: Both lines currently have very low ridership. The 9-San Bruno will be rerouted to cover for the eliminated 56, and extra service on the 48-Quintara/24th Street line will make up for the loss of the 66.
Okay, so that was rather long, even though I attempted to shorten/condense somewhat. If you are more of a visual learner, you may want to just check out this PDF map, which depicts what Muni service would look like if all the above changes were implemented.
The changes are sure to inspire a wide range of emotions, including delight, anger, and skepticism. Those who live along realigned routes will protest the proposed changes, but the SFTEP research process has provided the MTA with the data that shows why service needs to be realigned to favor high demand corridors over low ridership branches. The status quo — which includes lightly used routes and bus stops on just about every block — does not move people efficiently and demonstrates suboptimal resource allocation. Changes are necessary to decrease travel times, increase reliability and comfort, and strengthen citywide connections between rapid buses, local buses, and rail. Executing the style of change that the SFTEP has proposed is a necessary step in the long-term process of curing San Francisco’s ailing transit system.