San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Agency is tasked with moving shuttle bus stops citywide from small, neighborhood streets onto larger thoroughfares under the city’s new 12-month program regulating the hundreds of commuter shuttles that transport employees of Silicon Valley’s tech companies.
The program takes effect April 1, but it may take longer than that to figure out where to put the new stops.
In addition to two new commuter shuttle loading zones proposed on Dolores Street, Mission District residents could soon see transit stops on Church Street and Bryant Street moved.
Two current shuttle stops along Church Street — at 15th street and at Market street — may be eliminated and replaced with two new stops along the intersection of 16th and Sanchez streets, said the Transit Agency’s Spokesperson, Paul Rose. Following a public hearing on Friday, March 18, the proposed changes will go in front of the Transit Board on April 19. If approved, the new zones could become effective shortly afterwards.
With the new shuttle bus stops, the Transit Agency expects most shuttle operators to take Market Street to 16th Street during morning commuter hours.
“Some may then turn south onto Dolores Street to stop at the proposed new commuter shuttle zones on that street on the way to 280, while others might turn north on Guerrero Street, then east on Duboce to access 101,” said Rose.
Shuttle zones along Bryant Street, which is not a designated “arterial”, will also be subject to change. According to Rose, the Transit Agency is currently evaluating whether those zones can be replaced with new stops along larger streets, but that there are “no concrete proposals” at this time.
Rerouting the shuttles onto higher capacity streets was one of several revisions made to an 18-month pilot program at the behest of community members who have criticized the shuttles’ presence on neighborhood streets. The shuttles have come under fire for their size, which some residents have accused of congesting traffic, interfering with existing public transportation systems, and endangering cyclists and pedestrians. Housing advocates have also pointed to the apparent impact of shuttles on displacement and the environment.
The stops proposed near 16th and Sanchez streets could take away a total of seven parking spaces during commuter hours on weekdays — three from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the north side of 16th street and west of Sanchez Street, and four parking spaces and one driveway on the south side of 16th Street, east of Sanchez Street. The proposed stops along Dolores Street would take away a total of 11 parking spots during those hours.
The loss of parking is a point of contention for some Mission residents. Although she does not own a car herself, Chloe Jager lives near an existing shuttle zone on Church Street and empathized with her neighbors who do.
“To have to move one’s car for a period of time to let a shuttle in would’ve been completely aggravating to me,” said Jager. “Wasting time and gas driving around trying to find parking in my own neighborhood would piss me off.”
The placement of the proposed zones has left others scratching their heads. The proximity of the proposed 16th and Sanchez street zone to Sanchez Elementary School at 325 Sanchez st. has raised safety concerns for some residents.
“If you’re on the corner and you’re a little kid and see a two-story bus coming at you, that’s not exactly fun,” said Paul Quin, who lives nearby a proposed stop on 16th Street. “If they have to move these ‘mega-buses’ off of 18th Street, that’s fine. But the problem now is that [the Transit Agency] randomly decided where to put the bus stops without paying much attention to the problems that that would cause.”
“We do not believe the proposed commuter shuttle zone at 16th and Sanchez poses a safety hazard,” said Rose, explaining that its location “down the block and around the corner from the school” would not pose direct conflicts with school drop-off.
Rose said that potential shuttle zones are evaluated by a variety of factors, with pedestrian safety at the top of the list.
“We locate all new zones at the ‘far-side’ of intersections rather than the ‘near-side’ at the approach to an intersection so that shuttles don’t block passing drivers’ view of pedestrians,” he said.
Other criteria for identifying potential shuttle zones include ensuring that the shuttles are able to pull up to curbs completely to avoid blocking travel lanes, and minimizing the number and hours of parking spaces and driveways blocked.
The transit agency will solicit community feedback on the proposed changes at a hearing scheduled for March 18 at 10 a.m. at City Hall, room 416.