New signs aim to reduce T-Third vs. auto collisions

San Francisco transit officials are testing new electronic signs at two intersections along Third Street in hopes of preventing drivers from making illegal left turns.

The testing of the new signs is part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Embarcadero/T-Third Signal Priority Project, which aims for improving service on Muni’s T-Third line.

One of those improvements includes installing bigger electronic signs along intersections on Third Street to give drivers a heads up of an oncoming train. Officials said the new signage is twice as large compared the older signage.

The transit agency is testing the new signs at Third and King streets and at Third and 23rd streets.

New #TThird electronic sign on the right. Old sign on left. #sfmta #SFMuni

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Smaller electronic signs are already installed along intersections on Third Street, but drivers continue to make illegal left turns.

The SFMTA said at least 50 percent of collisions over the last five years between T-Third trains and private vehicles were due to drivers making illegal left turn, which have resulted in Muni delays on the T-Third for Muni passengers.

While most left turns are not allowed on Third Street, the ones that do allow left turns require drivers to wait for a left turn green signal, according to the SFMTA.

The SFMTA said it will seek the opinions of Muni operators and from the public on which sign they prefer. The public can take a survey online.

Officials said they plan to start installing the new electronic signs in the spring at intersections where drivers can make a left turn. At intersections where drivers are not allowed to make left turns, officials said they will install “safe-hit” posts.

Other improvements along the Embarcadero and Third Street include standardizing the  train signals to one system and changing the traffic signal timing to give more green lights to the T-Third.