19 Polk on 7th and 8th Streets Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes
With the city reopening, traffic is quickly returning. If just a fraction of the people riding transit before the crisis begin driving alone, traffic congestion will be so severe that it could paralyze San Francisco’s economic recovery. Meanwhile, about a hundred thousand people, many of them essential workers, continue to rely on Muni every day to get to work and essential appointments during this pandemic. Without action, transit-dependent San Franciscans will bear the costs of traffic congestion, like an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 on slower, more crowded buses.
Along with other key locations across the city, the SFMTA is proposing to install temporary emergency transit lanes on segments of the 19 Polk to keep buses out of traffic and reduce crowding and travel times. By reducing delay from congestion, Muni can use its limited resources to provide more frequent service and pick up more passengers with the same number of buses.
Locations of proposed temporary transit lanes were chosen based on current ridership and travel time data. Providing service improvements to customers on Muni routes that serve neighborhoods with high percentages of people of color and low-income households is a top priority.
Transit Lane Scope: 19 Polk
Temporary emergency transit lanes will be implemented on 7th and 8th streets in the South of Market neighborhood, critical corridors for the 19 Polk as it makes its way through downtown traffic.
Pending approval, the temporary transit lanes will generally be in the curbside lane on:
- 7th Street, Market to Townsend
- 8th Street, Market to Bryant Street
In these locations, an existing travel lane will be converted to a transit lane. This work would consist of stenciling “Bus Only” (or a similar message) in the existing lane and installing signage. Modifications to turning lanes may also be needed at some intersections. Red color in the lane is not proposed as part of this temporary transit lanes installation.
Implementation and Sunset Date
The initial group of temporary emergency transit lanes was approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors on June 30, 2020. Based on ridership and travel time data, these transit lanes will benefit customers on five Muni routes which are critical to neighborhoods with high percentages of people of color and low-income households.
The temporary emergency transit lanes will be installed in late summer and will be striped only with white paint and “Bus/Taxi Only” stenciling and signage, making them easily reversable. No red color is proposed as part of these temporary installations. 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.
Outreach and Evaluation
The urgent nature of this emergency calls for putting temporary measures into place, directly on the street. This accelerated approach allows the city to respond quickly to protect public health and support economic recovery while we work with the community to evaluate and make adjustments to the temporary transit lanes in real time. 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 adjusting the 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.
We want your feedback
Once temporary emergency transit lanes are installed, we need your input to help evaluate them. Sign up for project updates and to take a community feedback survey. You will receive a link to the survey via email or text shortly after temporary transit lanes are installed.