1 California Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes
Update: Following evaluation and additional community feedback, the 1 California project was revised again before going to a public hearing on January 18, 2022. The project as presented was approved to become permanent by the SFMTA Board, with the exception of Clay Street between Stockton and Grant, which will remain as a temporary transit lane while we continue to evaluate and collect community feedback.
See the staff presentation and report from the Board meeting for more details.
The SFMTA is working to protect essential workers and transit-dependent San Franciscans who rely on Muni to get to work and essential appointments. During the initial days of shelter-in-place, the 1 California saw significantly faster travel times east of Arguello Boulevard compared to pre-pandemic. But with traffic now returning, average speeds along the 1 California corridor have decreased, slowing bus travel times and contributing to crowding.
In fall of 2020, increases in traffic were correlated with a spike in the number of bus trips that were crowded, with as many as 20% of trips being crowded around this time period. The 1 California line was among the top ten Muni lines that received the most pass-up complaints during this time period. In January 2021, SFMTA introduced additional service on the 1-California that has mitigated some of these crowding and pass-ups issues. An anticipated increase in vehicle travel as economic reopening continues risks the potential to again exacerbate crowding and pass-ups on this line.
In order to protect people who rely on transit from increased exposure to COVID-19 on slow or crowded buses, we need to act quickly to move more people, even though we have fewer resources.
The 1 California serves the Chinatown neighborhood–one of San Francisco's neighborhoods with high percentages of people of color and low-income households. In addition, 65% of Chinatown and Nob Hill households do not own a car, more than twice as many as the citywide average of 31% with no car.
Installing temporary emergency transit lanes on segments of the corridor will help keep the 1 California moving, reducing crowding and travel times for people who depend on transit to get around the city. When buses aren’t competing with traffic, they can complete routes more quickly, providing more frequent service and greater capacity with the same number of buses. This is especially important at a time when buses can only carry a third of the passengers as before the health crisis and while the SFMTA is facing a major revenue shortfall.
Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes Details
Temporary emergency transit lanes were approved in April 2021 and installed along segments of California, Clay and Sacramento streets:
- On California Street between Steiner and Presidio streets, temporary emergency transit lanes replace the curbside travel lane. Lanes are in effect at all times. All on-street parking would be retained.
- On designated segments of Clay and Sacramento streets between Franklin and Kearny streets, temporary emergency transit lanes introduce new parking restrictions in the right-hand curbside parking lane during the hours the transit lane is in effect.
- On Sacramento between Leidesdorff and Front streets, temporary emergency transit lanes convert the existing 7am-7pm transit lane to a full time transit lane, eliminating these spaces as part-time parking spaces.
Temporary transit lanes are striped only with white paint and identified with “Bus/Taxi Only” stenciling and signage, making them easily reversable. No red color is proposed as part of these temporary installations. Cars are still allowed to enter transit lanes to make right turns and access parking. Temporary emergency transit lanes will automatically be removed within 120 days after the emergency order is lifted, unless there is a public process to make a temporary emergency transit lane permanent.
Tow-Away Zones in Effect on Clay and Sacramento Streets
On California Street
- Presidio Avenue* to Steiner Street: add 24/7 (all hours) transit lane
*Update as of 2/3/21: The project proposal was revised to remove the proposed transit lane on California Street between Arguello and Presidio. This change in scope is as a result of design work revealing inadequate roadway width for a transit lane in this segment.
Map of 1 California temporary transit lanes from Steiner to Presidio streets.
Cross-section showing street configuration of California Street between Presidio Avenue and Steiner Street, with the travel lane nearest to the curb converted to a 24/7 transit lane on each side of the street. Parking is retained.
Based on outreach to the community and the feedback we received, the original proposal for Sacramento and Clay streets was revised to the following:
On Clay Street
- Morning AM Hours:
- Between Powell and Sansome: no changes to existing towaway hours
- Between Larkin and Leavenworth, Jones and Taylor, Mason and Powell: establish towaway hours from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m
- Evening PM Hours:
- Between Grant and Front: no changes to existing towaway hours
- Between Grant and Powell: add 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. towaway
- Between Powell and Mason: add 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. towaway
- Between Jones and Taylor: add 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. towaway
- Between Larkin and Leavenworth: add 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. towaway
- Between Larkin and Van Ness: add 24/7 (all hours) transit lane
On Sacramento Street
- Morning AM Hours:
- Between Leidesdorff and Front: add 24/7 towaway (all hours)
- Between Kearny and Leidesdorff: no changes to existing towaway hours
- Between Larkin and Kearny: no changes to existing towaway hours
- Between Franklin to Larkin: add 24/7 transit lane
- Evening PM Hours:
- Between Leidesdorff and Front: establish 24/7 towaway (all hours)
- Between Larkin and Kearny: expand towaway hours to 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
- Between Franklin to Larkin: add 24/7 transit lanes
Overview of tow-away changes as a result of this project
Map of parking changes and transit lanes for the eastern corridor.
Cross-section showing street configuration of Clay and Sacramento streets between Franklin and Larkin streets. The travel lane next to the right-hand curb would be converted to a 24/7 transit lane. Parking would be retained.
Cross-section showing street configuration for streets east of Larkin. Parking is retained on both sides of the street when bus lanes are not in effect.
Cross-section showing street configuration for streets east of Larkin. The curbside parking lane becomes a transit lane when bus lanes are in effect.
SFMTA Board of Directors Hearing on April 20, 2021
The 1 California temporary emergency transit lanes proposal was brought before the SFMTA Board of Directors for consideration on Tuesday, April 20 and approved for implementation.
Outreach and Evaluation
We conducted extensive outreach during the winter 2020/21 to seek input on the proposed transit improvements. Outreach included a mailer sent to properties near the project area, email and text updates, posters along the corridor, meetings with local stakeholders, feedback by phone and email and two communitywide virtual meetings. In response to this feedback, and in recognition of the limited street space in this area, the proposal has been revised. Learn more about what we heard and what we did in response to recent outreach.
Following approval and installation, the temporary emergency transit lanes will be evaluated. Evaluation criteria provided by the community will be used along with metrics that the SFMTA has established. Areas of evaluation will include, but are not limited to:
- Health and safety benefits
- Economic health
- Neighborhood impacts and equity
- Transit performance
- Traffic safety
Community-based organizations, stakeholders and neighbors will be involved in shaping the framework and process for evaluating and making any needed adjustments to the temporary emergency transit lanes in real time. Based on public feedback and ongoing, on-the-ground data monitoring of the temporary transit lanes, we can tweak—or even remove lanes—to meet the needs of the community and Muni customers. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected after implementation and will inform any changes needed to the transit lanes and whether permanent approval of the lanes should be pursued.