Supe seeks expanded after-hours transit

It’s 3 a.m., the middle of the night.

You just got off work after being on your feet all night serving drinks. The first thing on your mind is to get home and sleep.

Instead, you’re stuck for an hour or more getting home on public transit.

Supervisor Scott Wiener wants to change that by convening a working group with the Entertainment Commission and the Office of Economic Workforce and Development to come up with a late night transportation plan for The City.

Wiener — who introduced the resolution at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to create the Late Night Transportation Working Group — calls for the group to work with Bay Area transit agencies to figure out a plan to provide better late-night transit options.

Wiener said last week at a hearing that transportation agencies seem to forget about The City’s nightlife:

“San Francisco doesn’t just shut down when rush hour ends. Yet sometimes it seems like portions of our transportation system assume that we do actually shut down as a City.”

It’s no secret that the City’s nightlife is important to the economy. Patrons enjoying the City’s nightlife and employees who make a living during late night hours helped generate $4.2 billion in spending in 2010, mostly from restaurants, nightclubs, bars and theater performances.

The report also said that the nightlife industry employs about 48,000 workers.

Wiener said The City makes it hard on these workers by severely limiting their transit options.

Tom Temprano, owner of Virgil’s Sea Room bar on Mission Street, said at the hearing that the lack of late night transit options is a safety issue for his employees who work sometimes until 4 in the morning:

“It’s lovely be on an Owl line, but you can’t ask an employee who has cash on them, who is a target to folks, to stand on Mission and 25th, on Mission and Cesar Chavez with hundreds of dollars in cash for half an hour waiting for an Owl. ”

The working group has about six months to present its solutions.

What’s available now

The hearing included presentations from the Muni, BART and AC Transit officials on what’s currently offered for late night transit riders, and asked if any of them planned to offer any type of remedies to improve late night transportation.

Muni currently has 10 routes running from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., said John Haley, director of transit operations.

Those lines are: L-Taraval (bus), N-Judah (bus), 5-Fulton, 14-Mission, 22-Fillmore, 24-Divisadero, 38-Geary, 90-Owl, 91-Owl and 108-Treasure Island. Most other Muni routes shut down by 1 a.m. including the Muni Metro.

The 90-Owl starts on San Bruno Avenue and Arelta Avenue and makes stops Bayshore Boulevard, Portreo Avenue, 11th Street and Van Ness Avenue.

The 91-Owl travels even further starting near the West Portal station and includes stops at Junipero Serra Boulevard, Ocean Avenue, Bayshore Boulevard, Third Street, Townsend Street, Kearny Street, Stockton Street, Van Ness Avenue, Park Presidio, 19th Avenue and finally to San Francisco State University.

Haley said the SFMTA could do several options to help to riders find their way home. He said Muni could focus more on providing better communication to riders on what’s available to them during the hours past midnight.

Another option included increasing transit service on Market Street.

Haley suggested the possibility of supplementing service on Market Street with a shuttle from Embarcadero to West Portal or operating the F-Market/Wharves line. Of course any increased Muni service would require funds and approval from the SFMTA board.

The topic of late night transportation brings back the debate of whether or not BART should operate 24 hours. BART has said it uses the four-hour window between the last train at midnight and first train in the morning to do track maintenance. 

Jay Bolcik, manager of scheduling and services planning for BART, said the transit system does not have the extra tracks like other public transit systems such as New York City’s subway, where trains can run on another set of tracks while workers perform maintenance on other rail tracks.

AC Transit offers late night transit service for those who need to get back to the East Bay from the City.

The 800 line picks up at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue starting around 1:00 a.m. on weekdays. It makes a few more stops on Market Street (Seventh Street, Sutter Street and Beale and Howard streets) and then makes stops at the 12th Street, Ashby, Del Norte and Richmond BART stations.

AC Transit also provide other late night transit options for those just traveling in the East Bay and stop at most BART stations.

Riders can also use 511’s trip planner to find more late night transit options currently available.

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