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3rd Street Transit and Safety Project
Project Introduction

The aims of the 3rd Street Transit and Safety Project are to reduce bus delays and improve safety for people walking on 3rd Street between Townsend and Market Streets, as well as to reconfigure traffic lanes to better accommodate existing travel demand patterns. The SFMTA Board of Directors unanimously approved the 3rd Street Transit and Safety Project on February 19, 2019. Learn more about the project's improvements: 

Additional Improvements Proposed for Transit on Townsend Street

Thank you to community members who provided feedback on proposed improvements at the January 24, 2020 SFMTA Public Hearing. The proposal has been updated with changes to the use of curb space on Townsend between 3rd Street and Lusk. The proposed improvements for transit include: 

  • Adding a bus zone at Townsend east of Lusk: This update would better accomodate Muni buses that drop off customers near the Caltrain station. Moving the layover location for 45 Union/Stockton half a block east to this new location would provide space for the 30 Stockton to drop off customers closer to Caltrain.
  • Adding a bus-only left-turn lane on Townsend eastbound at 3rd: Adding a second left-turn lane for buses only would reduce Muni delay for buses turning left onto 3rd Street from Townsend. This change would allow the 30 Stockton and the 45 Union/Stockton to turn at the intersection more efficiently and reduce time spent in traffic waiting to turn left. The left-turn lane for regular traffic would remain the same.
  • Updating existing bike lane: To improve safety, the existing bike lane on Townsend between Lusk and 3rd Street would no longer have cars parked to the right of the lane, moving it out of the "door zone" . The bike lane would be located to the right of all vehicles on the approach to the 3rd.
  • Updating parking and loading: With the exception of an accessible parking space, curbside parking on Townsend between Lusk and 3rd Street would be removed to accommodate the changes. Additionally on Townsend east of 3rd Street, the bus zone would be extended to ensure there are no conflicts between buses turning left onto 3rd Street and the 10 Townsend stop. Additionally, commercial loading spaces would be added on Townsend east of 3rd Street to address demand. 

There are three ways to comment on the proposed changes for 3rd Street and Townsend:

  • Attend the SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting on March 17, 2020 at 1:00 p.m., ​​​​​​Room 400 City Hall, San Francisco. (Note that the actual time the item will be heard may be considerably later than 1:00 p.m.)
  • Email comment to: with subject line “3rd St and Townsend Item”. (Submit comments before the hearing.)
  • Mail comment to: Board of Directors, One South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103-5417. (Submit comments before the hearing.)

The SFMTA Board of Directors will make the final approval at the hearing. All comments will be heard by project staff and the SFMTA Board of Directors and will be entered into the public record.

Implementation and Construction

The 3rd Street Transit and Safety Project will be implemented in two phases. Learn about what improvements are happening near you:

Phase I 

Phase I of the project started construction on September 21, 2019. Construction will occur on 3rd Street between Townsend and Mission streets and continue into the winter. 

Phase I improvements include:

  1. Relocated transit-only lane and dedicated right-turn lanes
  2. Boarding islands and evenly-spaced bus stops
  3. Painted safety zones and walk sign head starts
  4. Upgrades to existing crosswalks, stop bars for autos and right turn-only signals reducing conflicts with pedestrians

To accommodate these improvements, some parking and loading changes are occurring as well.

Photo of phase 1 project features: improved transit-only lane, bus boarding islands, painted safety zones, upgraded crosswalks

Phase II

Following the completion of Phase I improvements, the SFMTA and San Francisco Public Works will begin to develop detailed designs for Phase II. Phase II improvements include wider sidewalks at bus stops (transit bulbs), extending sidewalks at intersection corners (pedestrian bulbs) and adding new crosswalks at Bryant and Folsom streets. Phase II is expected to start construction in 2023. 

Intersection Improvements 

The sample intersection illustrated below shows upcoming improvements to 3rd Street for transit and people walking. By shifting the transit lane away from the curb, the project will reduce bus delays and provide an additional right-turn lane to accommodate Bay Bridge traffic. Pedestrian improvements will improve safety for people walking. In order to accommodate these improvements, one through lane of traffic will be removed outside of rush hour, and some curbside parking will be converted to a traffic lane during rush hour. Some curbside parking will also be removed to accommodate right turn lanes.Plan drawing of a sample 3rd Street intersection showing proposed orientation of transit lane in relation to other traffic lanes on 3rd Street. Below drawing lists proposed improvements including 1) Relocated transit lane reducing conflicts with cars, 2) Corner sidewalk extensions for shorter crossings, 3) High-visibility crosswalks, 4) Upgraded wheelchair ramps, 5) Advance limit lines to stop cars before crosswalk, 6) Head starts for people walking in crosswalk, 7) Wider sidewalks at bus stops, 8) Right turn-only signals reducing conflicts with pedestrians.

Bus Stop Changes

The project updates bus stop to be more evenly-spaced, on every other block. These changes allow for better transit access and reduce transit delays. 

Updated 3rd street bus stops are at Townsend, Bryant, Folsom, Mission and Market streets.

Project Timeline 
Summer / Fall 2018
Public Outreach
Winter 2018
SFMTA Board Review
By End of 2019
Interim Project Construction
Project Status
Detailed Design
Implementation / Construction
Relocated transit lane reducing conflicts with cars
More even stop spacing for better bus access
Wider sidewalks at bus stops
SFMTA Accessibility icon
Upgraded curb ramps
Corner sidewalk extensions for shorter crossings
High-visibility crosswalks
Advance limit lines to stop cars before crosswalk
Walk sign head starts for people walking in crosswalk
Right turn-only signals reducing conflicts with pedestrians
SFMTA Drive and Parking icon
Reconfigured traffic lanes to better accommodate existing travel demand patterns

Transit and Safety Needs

Bus Delays

Five of Muni’s busiest bus lines run on 3rd Street in the South of Market neighborhood, including the 45 Union/Stockton, 30 Stockton, 8 Bayshore, and the 8AX and 8BX Bayshore Express buses. During the busiest hours, 3rd Street is used by close to 40 Muni buses carrying thousands of passengers – one bus every 90 seconds. Cars and trucks head downtown and to the Bay Bridge and Highway 101, While 3rd Street does have a lane prioritized for transit, during rush hour it is blocked by vehicles waiting to turn right, delaying thousands of Muni passengers.

High-Injury Corridor

Crowds of people walk to the area’s many businesses, cultural and civic destinations. As a one way street with up to six lanes, 3rd Street is one of the city’s high-injury corridors that have the most severe and fatal traffic injuries in San Francisco. Many of these injury collisions involve people walking in the neighborhood, which features several low-income senior housing projects, Bessie Carmichael Middle School and multiple major cultural and civic facilities (including Moscone Center and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). Improvements to 3rd Street for people walking are also critical to achieving the city's Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024.

Additional Safety Improvements for People Walking

During fall 2019 construction of the first phase of improvements, the SFMTA identified three additional locations on 3rd Street to improve safety for people walking. In order to increase the safety and visibility of people waiting to cross 3rd Street at Mission, Bryant and Folsom streets, the project proposes "daylighting" at those locations, which would remove one parking spot at the southwest corner of each intersection. Additionally, on Bryant at 3rd, the project proposes extending the sidewalk at the southeast corner to shorten crossing distances for people walking, which also would remove a parking spot. These additional pedestrian safety improvements were approved at an SFMTA Public Hearing on December 6, 2019. 

Thank you for your feedback

The 3rd Street Transit and Safety Project proposal was developed with input from over 200 Muni passengers, pedestrians and motorists on 3rd Street. Feedback was received from local merchants, senior communities, neighbors, community organizations and institutional stakeholders. Take a look at highlights of the community's feedback. Feedback surveys were offered in English, Chinese, Spanish and Filipino. The feedback surveys are closed.

Muni Forward
Vision Zero SF logo
Contact Information
Steve Boland, Project Manager
Bonnie Jean von Krogh, Public Relations Officer