Monday: Community Meeting to Reconsider Muni Red Carpet Lanes

redbollards

At the urging of D9 Supervisor David Campos, the SFMTA will hold a meeting on Monday to consider options to alter the “red carpet” bus lanes on Mission Street. The meeting happens on Monday, June 20 at 6pm at the Mission Cultural Center (2868 Mission at 25th),

Right now, this stretch of Mission Street carries over 65,000 Muni riders and about 8,000 cars each day. By many accounts, the street improvements have increased safety and improved the speed and quality of Muni service, but some local merchants say the new configuration has resulted in declining sales.

The SFMTA’s press release maps out differing perspectives on the issue:

District 9 Supervisor David Campos and Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), today announced a series of activities to gather additional feedback on the Mission Street Improvement Project, which established bus-only lanes on Mission Street from 14th Street to 30th Street. The activities include a community hearing, merchant walks in the project area, and a survey of residents and visitors on Mission Street.

The community hearing, to be held on June 20 at 6:00 PM at the Mission Cultural Center, provides an opportunity for community members to discuss their experiences and suggestions for improving the project.

“My office and the SFMTA received a wide range of feedback from stakeholders – some of it positive and some of it focused on impacts to local merchants. While I wholeheartedly support the goal of improving Muni reliability and speed, I want to make sure that the project works for everyone and takes into account the unique aspects of the Mission,” said Supervisor Campos.

With eight full weeks of post-implementation results, Muni reliability has improved and travel time has dropped and continues to drop. Furthermore, Muni has seen only one collision in this corridor since late March. Prior to project implementation we experienced three to four per week, which hampered reliability and forced buses out of service.

While construction was only recently completed, there has been a significant amount of positive feedback from Muni riders and neighborhood residents. The feedback ranges, but is focused on the appreciation of an improved Muni experience and a feeling of Mission Street being a safer place to walk – primary goals of the project.

In addition to the positive feedback, there have been concerns from local and regional drivers who were finding it difficult to directly access Mission Street. Merchants expressed concern that this difficulty was causing a decrease in sales, while other merchants say they have not experienced any impacts.

If you support the red carpet lanes, you might want to add Monday’s meeting to your calendar.  Because as Streetsblog explains:

The problem, of course, is public meetings on transit projects seem to attract a disproportionate number of, well, grumps. “One of the things that stands in the way is often times a small number of deluded people are the ones who show up. And they complain and their complaints may be irrational and factually incorrect. But because they show up, they’re the ones who win the day,” said Jeff Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy for Nelson\Nygaard Consulting.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

27 thoughts on “Monday: Community Meeting to Reconsider Muni Red Carpet Lanes

  1. I don’t regularly take the Mission St. bus anymore, now that daycare isn’t along that route (used to be from 24th St. to Ocean, but it was a painful trip), but if this had been in place then, I would have taken it all the time, rather than driving. In the last months, several times I have had to take the 49 from 24th St. to City Hall or farther up Van Ness, and it has been terrific. A complete change, and a real alternative to driving. We still frequent our same Mission St. haunts.

  2. I’m not a Muni rider but I’m glad the 14 Mission works better now for those who do ride it. As a neighborhood resident/driver, I think a couple of fixes might be helpful, although I’m no city planner, so can’t be sure. The biggest problem in my experience is the forced right turn onto Cesar Chavez when heading north on Mission, immediately followed by a very short left turn green arrow onto South Van Ness. This makes it very difficult to head north through the Mission. A longer left green arrow at South Van Ness would help that, but I’d rather see the forced right turn go away, as well as all the other forced new right turns. Are they necessary? I would think that with the bus lane the street is already unattractive to drive. But without the forced right turns, at least those drivers who truly want to visit a business on Mission would be able to do so. Wondering what others think about this, and how important the forced right turns are to making this work.

    • I’d hafta agree on those points. Forced right into a short light just aggravates me to no end. The forced rights all along Mission just seems spiteful when there’s a full red lane for the bus. Must really kill off business along that stretch.

    • I agree that the left turn light from Ceasar Chavez onto South Vaness needs to be longer. I also think the other left turns need to be looked at for more time. Bryant seems particularly short. If the person in the first car isn’t paying close attention then hardly anyone can make a legal left turn.

  3. Interesting that this article only encourages those who support the changes to show up, that those who oppose them are “grumps.” More arrogance and condescension from city planners and their activist allies.

  4. Wasn’t taking Cesar Chavez from three to two lanes much worse for the driver than the red carpet on Mission St?

    • It all sucks which is why there will be a Charter Amendment on the November ballot to change the powers and authorities of the SFMTA. Removing bus stops and now bus seats shows a total lack of respect for Muni riders. That is the new plan to force more bodies onto BART and buses. Remove the seats. Who do they think is taking the bus?

  5. My suspicion: most people complaining are just annoyed they can’t double park all over Mission like they used to. Cry me a river. :-p

    This supposedly “green” city is finally showing some respect for public transit and its riders. It’s a joy to finally be able to ride the 14 and not have it moving slower than pedestrians! I support any efforts to keep the Mission red carpet.

    • Exactly! My bus of 60+ is always delayed block after block by a single driver double parking blocking a travel lane.

  6. Instead of calling people who may have legitimate complaints “grumps” perhaps keeping and open mind is something to consider. I do have concerns that access to Bernal Heights the Cortland neighborhood is hard to access from the west. Or northwest. As it involves left turns from Mission Street. There is no through street to take and bypass Mission. Not everyone has a job that can be accessed by Muni or a job that has a single location. There are jobs that include carrying more than a brief case. I am in favor of a functional public transportation system, I certainly would be in favor of more underground systems. I very much wish we had a Bart stop at Mission and 30th.

  7. In spite of being in the grump demographic, I strongly support the red lanes. The 14 and 49 busses are MUCH faster. I take them in the daytime, and they are often standing room only. If adjusting the traffic lights or “right turn only” signs can improve car traffic, so much the better.

  8. The statistic about reduced collisions isn’t something I’d originally considered but is certainly up there in defending these lanes.

  9. How professional (and helpful) of the consultant (or Bernalwood?) to call those who oppose the red carpets (and advocate for B-A-L-A-N-C-E-D transit planning) “deluded.”

    San Francisco: We are always proving that so-called liberals can be just as closed-minded, self-righteous and bullying as any other group.

  10. It’s worth noting that the paragraph in question comes from a blog by a transit advocacy organization and the quote itself from a consultant working with a similar, local transit-first advocacy group. It was a hugely unprofessional and unfair thing to say, and I agree with all who have pointed that out.

    In my past experience working for the city and doing some public meetings, I found myself wishing that more people would come out to participate, period. Sharing their opinions, be they good, bad, or ugly. Though sometimes, I hope I would be forgiven for saying that you will find a small number of people who have a pet (no pun intended) issue and regardless of the topic at hand, will bring this issue up at every opportunity. And, yes, they can be rather grumpy. (In my limited experience with community meetings, and some years ago, it was dog poop. Apparently, anger about dog poop in SF has been around since well before Harvey Milk and will be around long after I’m gone! Pick up those poops, people!) So, some days, you might feel that there’s a lot of negativity and resistance to change that rises to the top. But that does not give anyone the right to belittle those who are participating in the system, as it’s meant to be. I think it’s sort of human nature to point out negatives over positives. If things are going well, what’s there to say? (Personal note: I don’t Yelp much, but when I do I’ve promised myself to write at least 2 positive reviews for every negative one. Seems only fair.)

    I veer off topic, but to the main point – I have not found the changes to Mission Street to be particularly problematic. I was annoyed at first (that resistance to change thing) and I quickly got over it. I was one to avoid driving on Mission anyway, so not a huge thing for me. I used to take the 14/49 regularly, but my needs have changed. I see some very good suggestions right here, so I hope that Bernal neighbors will go and share their good opinions. My thought is more time to get used to it and working within the new system to improve it. Not to scrap the whole thing. So, I guess I’ll see you there. 🙂

  11. I went to the meeting tonight and left when it appeared a fist fight was about to break out. It was very frustrating when the people opposing the changes took over the microphone and talked long after their two minute allotted time was over. The message was clear from the loudest attendees: if you weren’t a Hispanic, San Francisco native then your opinion did not matter. This meeting was my last straw, I’ll never attend a community meeting again.

    • I know it’s frustrating, but these meetings shouldn’t be ceded to the loudmouths. They shouldn’t get to give the finger to thousands of residents and transit riders just by virtue of showing up and screaming “HOW LONG HAVE *YOU* LIVED HERE?!?!?!” at everyone.

      • As a veteran of community meetings, I agree with BP. Please keep attending OR make sure your comments are submitted in the form of a letter to the supervisor (or whatever authority is relevant in each case).

    • I’m with you Maureen. The meeting was like being in the comments section of SFGate. I should have left after one angry man asked another man if he wanted to “take it outside”. Instead, I stayed until it became abundantly clear that this wasn’t really about the Mission red lanes; it was simply a forum for angry people to air their grievances about the city and share their SFMTA conspiracy theories. As suggested by SER, I will send my comments to the appropriate people at SFMTA.

      • Exactly, it was a classic “town hall” with a page out of the ObamaCare town halls.
        People shouted, threatened, didn’t respect the other speakers, ignored the time keeper, etc…

        I left as well when it looked like fist fights were about to start.
        I spent the time writing letters to the SFMTA, Campos, etc..

        A much better use of my time.

        It is tough being a public servant, I did not envy the SFMTA employees last night.

        Everyone blames Muni (It was late, it didn’t come, it as crowded, etc..) and when they do something to actually put the people on the buses first for once, they are crucified.

        ugh.

  12. For those who MUST drive in the city, I feel for you. It sucks. Crowded, distracted, no parking, tons of annoying pedestrians and bicyclists… it is stressful, dangerous, and expensive. And some of you have no choice but to drive. However, there is a small subset of drivers who will not consider riding a bus because it is “dirty” or “unsafe” or “full of homeless people”. So sorry for your discomfort, and so sorry the red lanes are causing your lifestyle to change. For us bus riders, however, hurrah for transit first priorities! Hurrah for alternatives to the private automobile!

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