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Policy and Planning Framework

San Francisco’s transportation system is shaped by policies and programs at federal, state, regional, and local levels. These policies span transit, urban development, housing, and climate change regulations, and will continue to impact future projects, programs, and policies in San Francisco for years to come.

The SFMTA Strategic Plan establishes a consistent approach for how state, regional, and local policies are implemented in the city’s transportation system. It focuses on the new vision and mission for the agency, and the four goals and 16 objectives needed to achieve this vision. Specifically, the new objectives in the Strategic Plan will guide the agency’s planning efforts, the prioritization of capital programs and projects, and the development of the 10-year Operating Financial Plan and five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP and the Financial Plan, in turn, will inform the development of the two-year operating and capital budgets, respectively. After the budgets are established, each SFMTA division will complete individual staff performance plans to allocate the budgeted projects. In this way, all agency plans, programs, and projects will be in line with the Strategic Plan.

State, Regional, and Local Policies & Programs

At the state level, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 mandates the coordination of transportation and land use planning efforts for each metropolitan planning organization (MPO) in California. Under this act, MPOs must adopt a “sustainable communities’ strategy” as part of their regional transportation plan, including strategies for land use, housing, and transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The San Francisco Bay Area’s MPO, a combined partnership of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments, introduced Plan Bay Area. This plan allocates nearly $292 billion for transportation projects through 2040, and directs 80 percent of future housing in the Priority Development Areas established near existing transit corridors. Also, in coordination with Plan Bay Area and the SFMTA, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) develops a 30-year San Francisco Transportation Plan to guide long-term investment in the City & County of San Francisco’s transportation system.

The San Francisco City Charter contains two specific sections of code that direct the development of the agency’s goals and objectives. Section 8A of the City Charter establishes the SFMTA, grants the agency the authority to manage the city’s transportation system, and defines standards to track agency performance. A key section of the Transportation Code, the Transit First Policy, was added in 1973 and amended in 2007, giving priority to transit, walking, and bicycling in San Francisco. Established by San Francisco voters, this policy forms the basis for all of the agency’s programs and policies. In addition to the Transportation Code, the city’s Environment Code includes ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets set in 2008 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (Ordinance No. 81-08). The city has achieved the established emissions reduction target for 2017, and this Strategic Plan prioritizes and tracks the agency’s work to meet the future reduction targets.

As a department of the City & County of San Francisco, the agency is committed to upholding the common vision established in the Strategic Plan section of the Mayor’s Five-Year Financial Plan. By incorporating the city’s vision and values into this Strategic Plan, the SFMTA will operationalize these concepts and connect them to the work agency staff does every day.

The SFMTA coordinates closely with other city department to improve the safety of the transportation system. Adopted in 2014, Vision Zero SF is the city’s road safety policy to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities by 2024. In coordination with 10 city departments, the Mayor’s Office, and the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA has prioritizes traffic safety and supports efforts in traffic engineering, law enforcement, policy work, education, and public health leadership to create a safer city.

In an effort to improve and expand the entire transportation system and accommodate the economic and population growth in San Francisco, the San Francisco Planning Department, the SFCTA, and the SFMTA established the Transportation Sustainability Program. This program consists of three main components – the Transportation Sustainability Fee, California Environmental Quality Act Reform, and the Transportation Demand Management Ordinance – that will improve the safety and comfort of the city’s transportation system now and in the future.

In 2017, the San Francisco Planning Department, the SFMTA, the SFCTA, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development came together to develop a unified, 50-year vision for the city’s transportation system as part of the ConnectSF program. This program represents the city’s priorities, goals, and aspirations within the larger San Francisco Bay Area, and lays the foundation for the next generation of transportation plans and projects. Developed as a concurrent effort to the ConnectSF visioning process, the SFMTA Strategic Plan’s elements are informed by this program’s research and public outreach findings, and are consistent with ConnectSF goals.


Read more about the Strategic Plan here


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