Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules


Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency Board will consider some proposed updates to the “red carpet” lanes installed recently on Mission Street to provide more rapid Muni bus service. The red carpets have been very popular among transit riders, but some Mission Street merchants have expressed concern that the revised traffic flows have been bad for business.

Here’s what the SFMTA has in mind:

We recognize [the red carpet] was a big change for the Mission, and it’s our priority to make it work for everyone. Already we’ve made several changes to enhance the project and make traffic flow more smoothly. We will be recommending a few more changes to improve traffic circulation, which will be heard at the next SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. The SFMTA commits to continuing to monitor Mission Street to ensure the project goals are achieved.

Mission Street Changes at SFMTA Board
August 16, 2016
Mission item will be heard at 3:00 PM
City Hall Room 400
If you are unable to attend, submit comments to MTABoard@sfmta.com.

The following changes will be recommended for legislation by the SFMTA Board of Directors:

  • Removing two of the required right turns on Mission at 26th and 22nd. This will allow vehicles to travel four blocks on Mission before encountering a required right turn, making it easier to access businesses and find parking along the street. We expect this change to improve traffic circulation without increasing through traffic or delaying bus riders.
  • Relocating the outbound Cortland stop to the nearside of the intersection. Moving the bus stop nearside will improve boarding ease for Muni riders.
  • Exempting taxis from the left turn restriction at 21st Street. This exemption, in the middle of the Mission corridor, will provide more options for taxis to reach their destinations.

The recommended changes are the result of a series of community engagement activities to discuss how the new street design is being perceived by neighborhood residents, bus riders, motorists and others using Mission Street. Staff worked closely with community members, Muni riders, neighborhood organizations and other non-profit organizations, as well as David Campos, District 9 Supervisor. Outreach activities included several small group discussions, a community hearing (summary of comments heard is available here), merchant walks and an intercept survey of 1,400 people on Mission Street.

That SFMTA survey is interesting, because it underscores the extent to which the data about how shoppers get to Mission Street diverges from what merchants believe about their customers. In an article that looked at this question, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner wrote:

The recent SFMTA survey of people in the Mission — conducted June 28, June 29 and July 9 — found that 69 percent of 1,400 respondents went to the Mission by public transit.

Those surveyed arrived to eat, drink, visit friends and work. But the largest group surveyed — about 350 people — was there to shop.

Specifically, the SFMTA said 76 percent of surveyed shoppers “usually” take transit, and 10 percent drive.

Merchants, however, disagree that most shoppers take transit.

Michael Gardner, the 42-year president of Siegel’s Clothing Superstore & Tuxedos on Mission Street, felt the survey was all wrong.

“This just doesn’t make sense to me. It just can’t be right,” he said.

For Bernal Heights residents,  the mandatory right turn on Mission Street northbound at Cesar Chavez has been a particular point of concern. The SFMTA’s FAQ explains why the mandatory turn at Cesar Chavez will remain in place:

Why aren’t you removing the required right turn at Cesar Chavez?

We heard many requests to remove the required right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, which some feel acts as a barrier to two neighborhoods. This was a difficult decision. Doing so would make traffic and transit performance worse on northbound Mission Street than before the project was implemented because one lane of traffic was removed [to create the restricted access lane for Muni buses].

The required turn at Cesar Chavez diverts drivers who drive through Mission toward downtown. Instead, we will address community concerns by removing two of the required right turns at 26th and 22nd to improve access to destinations along Mission without congesting the street with traffic looking for a fast way downtown.

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

8 thoughts on “Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules

  1. These changes will certainly be an improvement. Seems like it would be smart to put a two-lane left turn at South Van Ness and Chavez (though perhaps it is not needed). Also, 25th St. can now be a bit of a ridiculous back up on either side of Mission, at times.

  2. The decision to not remove the required right turn at Mission & Cesar Chavez is vividly & poignantly illustrative of what’s desperately wrong in most areas of this formerly wonderful city: people who do not live, work, or travel here, & whom have never worked, lived, or traveled here, making decisions for those who do & have…
    Erik’s point about both sides of Mission at 25th is excellent & spreading; 24th on both sides of Mission is worse than ever & the problem is filtering up Mission into the lower 20’s around Mission as people use Folsom, South Van Ness, Valencia, & Guerrero to try & evade the jams on 25th & 24th going to Mission…
    As someone who has lived in this neighborhood for more than 30 years & has walked extensively through all our neighborhoods watching this morass happen all around us I have no faith, hope, or charity left in/for the people who make these decisions…it has been profoundly demoralizing to watch; if I were younger I would leave simply because of the ENORMOUSLY negative impact on the quality of our lives…

  3. LOL to removing the right turn only on 26th but leaving the one at Cesar Chavez. Coming from Mission, there’s no way to actually hit that intersection. I don’t mind the red carpet lanes overall, and removing that right would create a bad situation by forcing buses to merge, so… no idea how that mess could be sorted.

    Haven’t seen it addressed—it’s probably not busy enough to cause much of an issue—but Valencia @ Mission is a bit a quagmire with 2 southbound right turn lanes merging across the bus only lane into a single lane for cars. The easiest thing would be just to widen the sidewalk and remove the right-most turn lane on Valencia (Burger King al-fresco dining anyone?). Wonder if that will be fixed as part of the Valencia st St. Lukes construction?

    • I’m pretty sure that right turn lane at Valencia & Mission is going away, replaced with a little “plaza” – I’ve seen plans somewhere.

      Mission/Chavez is a mess…

  4. My bus flies down Mission Street from Bernal now and opens up shopping from 22nd – 16th (Mission and Valencia) is ways I never considered before.

    Before the Mission Red lanes I would never “just pop over” to Mission x 17th for Thrift Town for example, I’d make it a dedicated trip or just skip it.

    I thought I’d hate the change in my bus stop, but after doing it couple of months, it’s really no different.

    I hope they keep the Mission Red lanes.

    Things that could be improved:

    Make the left turn onto South Van Ness work much better (the light cycle turning north is still way too short)

    There needs to be more enforcement of the red lane, my bus still gets delayed by double parkers

    There may be some overflow into the side streets on the hill, speed enforcement is a must there, esp at night.

  5. For all of the Sup. Campos haters – he is playing a big and responsive role in these changes.

    • Campos’ hyperbolic rhetoric “nonstop yelling and honking horns” and calling on Muni to “make a radical shift in the program” hardly strike me as productive.

      Sorry Buck–he’d have to cure cancer and stop ISIS at this point for me any appreciation for him.

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