The Board of Directors of SFMTA will vote today on a new bus line running from the 16th Street BART plaza to the new UCSF Mission Bay medical center, which opens Febuary 1. Buses will run every 15 minutes, reduced to every 20 minutes during evening and weekend hours. Bus service is expected to begin by the medical center’s opening day.

The bus is intended to connect central San Francisco with the medical campus, and will create a potential alternative to UCSF’s existing free shuttle system. The shuttles run every 10 to 20 minutes between various UCSF medical campuses and are free for patients, family, staff, and students. But the shuttles do not allow pets or unaccompanied minors, may require ID to board, and only run between about 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. The 55 would run from 6 a.m. until midnight.

Some MUNI riders said they would appreciate such a line simply because it provides more bus service in general.

“It would be cool,” said Jasmine Reed, waiting for the bus by the shopping center on 16th and Bryant streets. She said she would look forward to the additional line.

Tingzin Ellis, who rides the 22-Fillmore to work, agreed.

“If it makes the buses less crowded, that would be awesome,” she said. She considers the 22 one of the busiest lines. Even though she doesn’t usually go very far East, she hopes the 55 will help lighten the load on her route, especially going toward Mission street in the afternoon hours.

Thomas Nesby, who does sometimes venture out to Mission Bay, has never caught the UCSF shuttle but still called the 55 “another way to travel, convenient, another option.” Right now he takes the T-light rail line if he heads that way. But a new bus route? “That’s progress.”

Other riders wish SFMTA would simply extend an existing line rather than adding a new one.

“Why [start at] 16th and Mission? That means those of us who live farther in have to change buses. I would prefer an extension of an existing line,” said Trina Robbins. “Any line could be extended. We already have the T to the ballpark.”

The original plan was indeed to extend the 22 line, which currently turns at Kansas street, farther down 16th street to the new medical campus. That extension is still in the works but, since the 22 runs via overhead cables, is expected to take five years. In order to provide Muni service there promptly, this diesel-powered line was proposed instead.

While the 55 rollout will be much easier and faster than a 22 extension, it too requires some infrastructural adjustments. The new line is expected to cost $2.5 million per fiscal year to operate and about $17,000 to implement. Those funds have already been included in the SFMTA’s budgets. Additionally, 31 parking spots overall will have to be removed to accommodate the terminal loops at Mission Bay and at 16th and Mission streets. These changes are expected to be completed by January 31.

SFMTA will also hold a community meeting at Marshall Elementary to discuss proposed improvements to the 22-Fillmore line at 6 p.m. on January 14.

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