Jump aboard biggest Muni changes in decades

San Francisco’s public transit system is about to embark on a transformation officials say will provide more reliable and faster service for Muni riders throughout The City.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors approved a plan Friday morning to make service changes on a majority of Muni’s routes.

Frequency increases and decreases, new routes, elimination of routes, expanding limited service and route segment changes have all been studied and are ready to implement.

The changes are part of the Transit Effectiveness Project, a comprehensive plan to overhaul the Muni system in the works since 2006. It’s the most significant revamp to the transit system in more than 30 years.

Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the project was culmination of eight years of work:

“It really is a once in a generation opportunity for us.”

Muni service overall will increase by 12 percent and reduce travel time by up to 20 percent in the project’s plan to improve the transit system.

Increased service will phase in during the next two fiscal years, 3 percent this year and 7 percent next year. The total cost of implementing the changes is $44.7 million. The remaining two percent would be considered during the next two-year budget cycle.

Reiskin said Muni riders should see the first wave of service increases this fall:

“What’s it going to mean for Muni riders is they’re going to have a faster, less-crowded, more reliable trip pretty much wherever they are going in the City”

Some of changes Muni riders will see include all-day service on the 28L-19th Avenue and 71-Haight/Noriega, running the 38L-Geary on Sundays, permanently adding the 5L-Fulton and increasing frequency on more than half of Muni’s routes.

Transportation planners have modified many of the proposals after community and SFMTA board member input. One proposal called for bus stop removals on Warren Drive for the 36-Teresita. After residents expressed concern of the steepness of the hill in the neighborhood, planners decided to pursue the bus stop removal proposal.

Another one of the original proposals called for the elimination of the 3-Jackson, but planners decided to keep the route with reduced service. Residents still came out Friday opposing the reduced service.

There are also capital projects that will coordinate with the Department of Public Works repaving projects that will help improve Muni service travel by up 20 percent.

One of projects includes adding transit bus bulbs on between Irving Street and Arguello Boulevard, moving transit stops on the N-Judah on 9th Avenue and Irving Street and adding a traffic signal on Irving Street and Fourth Avenue, said Julie Kirschbaum, operations planning and scheduling manager for the SFMTA.

Despite some modifications already made by transit planners, many residents and Muni riders still wanted more changes made on several proposals.

Bob Boden, a member of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union said to the SFMTA board that though there is a temptation to continue to modify proposals to please riders still not satisfied with the changes, the project as a whole will help the majority of Muni riders.

“People at this meeting do have valid concerns, but your role is to look out not just of the hundreds in the room, but for the 700,000 who ride Muni everyday.”

SFMTA Director Heinicke agreed with Boden:

“We have to look at this as a package. This is a whole package and if we pick at and peck at it and try to solve every little problem we’ll lose the large-scale benefit. Large scale efficiency requires small-scale trade offs. That’s the simple reality of this.”

Muni riders not able to attend the meeting can visit the SFMTA website for more about the Transit Effectiveness Project and the proposals approved Friday morning.