SFMTA offers compromise over Mission Street red lanes

After anger erupted from merchants and residents from traffic changes made on Mission Street between March and April of this year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency now has a compromise it hopes will ease concerns from the community.

The project called the 14-Mission Rapid Project included changes on Mission Street between 14th and 30th streets that included a red-transit only lane for the 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes, a number of restricted left turns and forced right turns at some intersections.

Officials said the goal of the project was to improve the reliability of the two Mission Street Muni routes and to improve traffic safety in the corridor.

Since the implementation of the traffic changes, merchants have said that patrons are having a harder time accessing stores, which has led to a decrease in sales for some merchants. Drivers have also said that they have harder time accessing Mission Street merchants and finding parking, according to a survey conduced by the transit agency.

After a community meeting held in June with the SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and District 9 Supervisor David Campos, the transit agency has come up with a slightly different plan.

The alternative plan, which will be heard at the SFMTA’s Board of Directors for approval on Aug. 16, will take out two of the forced right turns on Mission and 22nd streets and on 26th Street, and move the Cortland Street outbound bus stop nearside to improve boarding for riders and allowing taxis to make the left turn on Mission and 21st Streets.

But some have said the new proposed changes are not enough. The San Francisco Examiner reports that Erick Arguello, who represents the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, said he wants to see the forced right turn on Mission and Cesar Chavez streets to go as well. Arguello told the paper that the forced turn divides the Bernal Heights and Mission neighborhoods heading north.

The transit agency wrote on its website on why it’s not removing the forced right turn on Mission and Cesar Chavez streets:

“Doing so would make traffic and transit performance worse on northbound Mission Street than before the project was implemented because one lane of traffic was removed.”

Despite some opposition from some, the transit agency has said the project has made the corridor safer and improved reliability for Muni buses traveling in the corridor.

Muni bus collisions saw a decrease in collisions of 85 percent with just seven collisions occurring in the project corridor since March 27. During the same time last year, the transit agency said there were 45 Muni-related collisions.

Buses on average are traveling two minutes faster in each direction in the corridor, the transit agency said. A survey of riders (61 percent) said they felt they were saving an average of 10 minutes because of spending less time in traffic and signal priority, which holds the green light for approaching Muni buses.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors meeting is at 1 p..m. next Tuesday at City Hall, Room 400.

Anyone who can not attend can email comments to the transit agency at MTABoard@sfmta.com.