Policy and Planning Framework

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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.

Through the strategic planning process, the agency establishes the vision and values informed by these policies, and identifies the strategic goals for the next budget cycle in order to achieve this vision and uphold the values.

State, Regional, and Local Policies & Programs

At the state level, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 mandated 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 (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), initiated Plan Bay Area 2050 in summer 2019. When finalized in fall 2021, the plan will identify a pathway to make the Bay Area Region more equitable and resilient by focusing on the economy, environment, housing and transportation.

Also, in coordination with Plan Bay Area and the SFMTA, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is developing the San Francisco Transportation Plan (SFTP) 2050 to guide long-term investment in the City & County of San Francisco’s transportation system.

City and County Policies and Programs

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 and grants the agency the authority to manage the city’s transportation system, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), as well as bicycling, paratransit, parking, traffic, walking, and taxis. It also 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 the agency’s programs and policies.

In addition to the Transportation Code, the city’s Environment Code includes ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sets a mode share target for the use of low carbon modes of travel. The city’s 2020 Climate Action Plan, currently under development, includes a Transportation and Land Use Chapter that will contain detailed strategies and actions to encourage greater use of transit, support active transportation connections, manage parking, promote growth along transit corridors, reexamine land use designations and promote the adoption of zero-emission vehicles to reduce emissions in the coming years. These actions are not only critical for advancing the agency’s climate action work but can also help to build a healthy, resilient and equitable city.

The SFMTA also coordinates closely with other city departments to improve the safety of the transportation system. Adopted in 2014, Vision Zero SF is the city’s road safety policy to eliminate traffic fatalities and reduce severe injuries. In coordination with 10 city departments, the Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA has committed to prioritizing traffic safety and supporting efforts in traffic engineering, law enforcement, policy development, education and public health leadership to create a safer city. In order to implement the policy, the Vision Zero SF Task Force publishes Action Strategies that lay out how to reach the city’s Vision Zero goal. Currently on the third iteration, the 2021 Vision Zero Action Strategy reaffirms the city’s long-term commitment to Vision Zero and for the first time expands beyond standard engineering, enforcement, and education actions to be clear about the broader policies and goals needed to achieve Vision Zero.

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 advances a bold vision for the future of the transportation system.

Agency Planning Efforts

In May 2014, the SFMTA Board of Directors adopted the Muni Service Equity Policy, a first of its kind policy defining a proactive process for the agency to identify and correct transit performance disparities. The policy was crafted in partnership with advocates working with seniors, people with disabilities, affordable housing, equity and social justice and public health, and is one component of the agency’s commitment to make transit accessible and affordable to all customers. The SFMTA assesses the Muni network based the parameters set in the policy and presented recommended investment strategies to the SFMTA Board of Directors in advance of the development of the agency’s budget.

The SFMTA Racial Equity Action Plan (RE AP) supports the agency’s prioritization of racial equity within its workplace and service delivery in alignment with citywide legislation (SF Board of Supervisors Ordinance No. 188-19) and in support of the agency’s commitment to racial justice. The SFMTA has made a commitment to equity and established Phase 1 of the SFMTA Racial Equity Action Plan in 2020 to focus on adjusting internal programs and policies to support institutional and structural change to advance racial equity.

The Transportation 2050 is an agency financial planning effort based on transportation needs and priorities identified by the community over the last eight years through two Mayoral transportation task forces (T2030 and T2045), with additional input from the city’s Muni Reliability Working Group in 2020. Transportation 2050 uses the agency’s Asset Management and State of Good Repair assessment and evaluates the resources needed to achieve the community’s vision for transportation developed through the city’s ConnectSF planning process. The overall infrastructure investment needs for both programs are included in the SFMTA 20-Year Capital Plan, a financially unconstrained compilation of all the capital needs. Updated every two years, the Capital Plan consolidates capital needs from all agency planning efforts and applies a series of criteria and indicators to determine the degree to which the capital need supports the SFMTA in upholding its values.

In addition to these long-term financial planning efforts, the values and strategic goals in this Strategic Plan will guide the agency’s near-term financial planning efforts through the prioritization of projects and programs included in 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, the Executive Team will set targets for each of the metrics established in this Strategic Plan and each SFMTA division will complete individual staff performance plans to allocate the budgeted projects to staff. In this way, all agency plans, programs and projects will support the achievement of the goals and uphold the values outlined in the Strategic Plan.


Read the SFMTA Strategic Plan here


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