San Francisco’s transit agency is proposing to roll back some of the traffic changes made along Mission Street when the city installed red bus-only lanes from 14th Street to Cortland Avenue.
The Municipal Transit Agency announced on Monday that its board would consider removal of two forced right turns at 22nd and 26th streets in order to give drivers four blocks of through traffic to make businesses along the corridor more accessible.
The agency will also allow taxis to turn left on 21st Street to give cab drivers a more direct route to their destinations, according to the announcement.
Finally, the agency will move a bus stop on Cortland Avenue to the northern end of its intersection with Mission Street to make it easier for passengers to board the bus.
One of the most controversial changes that came with the transit improvement projects, requiring a right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, is not being considered for removal. Concerns from the public that the forced turn needlessly separated the Mission from Bernal Heights, the agency said in its announcement, should be addressed by allowing right turns on 22nd and 26th streets.
But opponents of the project are not satisfied with the suggested changes and say they will continue to put pressure on the agency to make broader changes at an upcoming agency board meeting. One called the right turn at Cesar Chavez “disruptive,” and another told the Examiner that the turn was like a “wall” separating the two areas.
The agency has already made some adjustments to the original transit improvement project, the announcement pointed out, including adding a dedicated right turn signal phase at Cesar Chavez Street, adjusting signal timing at 16th and Capp street and Cesar Chavez and South Van Ness streets to reduce congestion, and finding new locations for mobile food vendors on Mission Street whose spots may have been removed by street configuration changes.
Various neighborhood organizations and businesses are discussing alternative recommendations they would make to the agency’s board to address their concerns. According to the Mission Economic Development Agency’s Gabriel Medina, these include removing the right turn at Cesar Chavez, restoring some of the consolidated bus stops along the corridor, and either removing or time-limiting the other forced right turns along the street. Opponents are also requesting meaningful data on the amount of car traffic, pedestrians, and transit riders along the project area before and after its implementation.
“SFMTA’s objective was to reduce cars on Mission Street, but does not actually reduce cars or traffic overall. The largest population of Mission transit riders (36%) use Mission buses like a jitney within the Mission,” Medina wrote. “But the red lanes have been tailored to rocket ‘choice riders’ over the Mission straight into downtown and reduce bus stops 50 percent.”
The SFMTA board hearing takes place on August 16.