Have your voice heard on Muni changes

A public hearing is set for Friday at 9 a.m. by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency at City Hall to discuss proposed transit service changes that will affect more than half of Muni’s buses and light rail routes.

A vote on the proposed changes — part of SFMTA’s Transit Effectiveness Project — will not be taken at the public hearing.

Many of the proposed changes include increasing frequency on over 30 Muni lines, redesigning bus routes to improve efficiency, adding new Muni service, expanding limited service and reducing or eliminating service on routes with low ridership.

A staff report said overall transit service in The City would increase by 10 percent with the recommended changes and travel time would reduce by 20 percent on key corridors through capital improvements such as adding transit-only lanes, bus bulbs and consolidating bus stops.

The transit agency said it kept 97 percent of Muni stops in the TEP proposals.

Some of the increased service include running the 38-Geary limited on Sundays, all-day service on the 28-19th Avenue limited and 71 Haight/Noriega limited and adding the E-Embarcadero line, which was tested during the America’s Cup events.

The 10 percent increased transit service would be phased in over the next two fiscal years — 3 percent in January 2015 and 7 percent by July 2015 — costing a total of $44.7 million, according to the staff report.

The SFMTA board will go over its two-year budget at the same meeting Friday with updated spending figures that include the cost of the recommended increased Muni service.

The TEP is a comprehensive plan to improve Muni service and reliability system-wide. It’s the first major review of the transit system since the 1970s, according to the transit agency.

Starting back in October 2006 to June 2007, the SFMTA began the project by collecting data on all its routes, which included the number of riders for each route and where riders were boarding. The data collected provided the framework for the TEP proposals announced in 2008, said the transit agency.

Since then the transit agency has revised some of the proposals because of community concerns that included the elimination of routes and bus stops.

The SFMTA staff presented its latest proposals at several public meetings in neighborhoods that would be affected by the Muni service changes during the last two months.

Joan Holden, 75, expressed concerns at one of the community meetings on the original proposal to move the 27-Bryant bus route off Bryant Street and on to Folsom Street:

“Cutting the number 27 would have meant no bus on Bryant, which has always been a transit corridor and is lined with small corner businesses that thrive on bus stops”

She also said the proposed change would make it harder for riders to access the Safeway and Trader Joe’s on Bryant Street especially for seniors and parents with children. The revised proposal now calls for the 27-Bryant to maintain its route on Bryant Street.

Another proposal called for the elimination of the 3-Jackson because of low ridership. Resources from the route elimination would then be used on the 2-Clement.

Muni Rider Alex B. Long said the 3-Jackson connected residents in Pacific Heights neighborhood to places like Jewish Community Center, Japan Town and Union Square:

“Without the 3-Jackson, our riders would have had to make multiple transfers taking 50 percent longer on average or they would use more cars and taxis.”

Long along with other residents rallied to save the 3-Jackson through petitions, letters to the SFMTA and attending the most recent community meetings. The SFMTA staff decided to keep the 3-Jackson in the TEP, but with reduced service.

The next step for TEP is for the City’s Planning Commission to certify the final environmental review documents at its March 27 meeting. If certified, the SFMTA board plans to vote on the proposed Muni service changes at a special meeting on March 28.

On April 1, the SFMTA board will get the first chance to adopt its two-year budget.

Muni riders can view the original and revised proposed Muni service changes on the SFMTA website.