Muni to add bigger buses to 5-Fulton rapid route

Bigger, longer, accordion-style electric trolley buses are coming to Muni’s 5-Fulton rapid line starting Aug. 15.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said it is switching out the 40-foot electric trolleys — which currently serve the 5R-Fulton — with 60-footers to deal with overcrowding on the route. The current daily average ridership is 11,000, said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.

Rose said the transit agency will add six to eight 60-foot electric trolleys to the route depending on the schedule. Each bus will be able to accommodate up to 112 additional riders.

Service on the 5R-Fulton route began in late 2013. The route has reduced travel time by 9 percent and boosted ridership by 17 percent, but crowding remains an issue despite adding more buses to the route last year, the transit agency said.

Transit officials in May just recently ordered more of the 60-foot electric trolley buses from New Flyer of America Inc. John Haley, director of transit, said last month that the transit agency plans to replace the entire rubber-tire fleet by 2019.

So far, the transit agency retired 129 buses, and plans to retire another 196 buses by the end of the year, said Haley.

Other improvements rolling out later this fall on the 5R route includes traffic signals, traffic circles and pedestrian improvements on Fulton and McAllister streets between Cole and Larkin streets. The improvements are part of the 5-Fulton Rapid Project.

Another improvement arrives Aug. 13 with a new southbound contraflow lane on Sansome Street from Broadway to Washington. The section of Sansome is currently one-way in the northbound direction.

The transit agency said the change will give the 10-Townsend and 12-Folsom/Pacific a more direct route, eliminating the current need to detour around the street. Taxis, commercial and emergency vehicles will also be able to use the southbound lane.

Muni riders are expected to save up to three minutes of their trip in the southbound direction.

Both the 5R-Fulton and Sansome Street projects are both part of the transit agency’s Muni Forward project, which aims at improving Muni’s reliability citywide.

5R-Fulton On-Time Performance (2016)

  • January: 67 percent
  • February: 70 percent
  • March: 70 percent
  • April: 66 percent
  • May: 50 percent (The month of May included a number of special events including Bay to Breakers)
  • June: 57 percent

Source: SFMTA