The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be conducting a survey and focus group to study the controversial rerouting of the 33-Stanyon bus line away from San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), a SFMTA official says.

The additional layer of input comes after more than 300 advocates signed a petition speaking out against the change. The new 33 line would track east, into the Dogpatch, instead of south, along Potrero Avenue, where it currently drops off riders going to the hospital.

The 9R-San Bruno Rapid will serve Potrero at increased intervals, but riders coming from western neighborhoods will have to transfer from the 33 onto the 9 at 16th Street.

Proposed service changes to buses serving San Francisco General Hospital. Map courtesy of  SFMTA.

Proposed service changes to buses serving San Francisco General Hospital. Map courtesy of SFMTA.

“People who are ill ‒ seniors, people with disabilities ‒ are relying on that bus,” says Alice Bierman, Peer Advocate Program Coordinator of the Senior Disability Action (SDA) group. “Let’s not make it harder for them.”

Fran Taylor, a Mission resident who has been vocal in opposing the rerouting, says that the proposed SFMTA survey and focus group is a step in the right direction. “I’m happy to work with SFMTA to publicize this and make it happen.”

SFMTA Operations Planning and Scheduling Manager Julie Kirschbaum contends that shifts in Muni’s routing and service will actually improve citywide access to the hospital.

“The net amount of service to SF General Hospital will increase greatly” under the Muni Forward plan, she says, though the additional service will not fully be in place until 2017 at the earliest. Until then, the absence of the 33 on Potrero would mean an extra transfer for riders going to SFGH.

Muni Forward calls for increased frequency along the 9R-San Bruno Rapid and 10-Townsend beginning in February 2016, while the 19-Polk and a new route along 24th street will terminate at SFGH beginning in 2017, “pending outreach and resource availability,” Kirschbaum says.

Signatories of the petition cite concerns ranging from decreased service for the ill, disabled, and elderly to general frustration with Muni’s service changes.

“I am in my seventies,” writes Mission resident Ruth Mahaney. “This bus is my ‘aging in place’ plan. I depend on Muni!”

Other passengers are less concerned. Raul Gonzalez has been taking the 33 every week from 15th and Mission to SFGH to treat cancer and bad knees.  “I’ll just find another way,” Gonzalez says of the rerouting. “I’m gonna get where I gotta go.”

Kirschbaum was non-committal on the impact the new survey and focus groups might have on the rerouting, which does not yet have a firm implementation date. “The system is continuously evolving and improving, and we’re always open to new ideas.”