Mission Street SoMa Transit Improvements (Formerly Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes)
Want to hear about next steps for the Emergency Transit Lanes on Mission Street in SoMa? Check out the on-demand presentation to hear about the evaluation of the temporary emergency lanes and next steps to pursue making them permanent.
As traffic congestion returns, the SFMTA is working to protect San Franciscans who continue to rely on Muni to get to work and essential appointments during this pandemic. 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 the city’s economic recovery. 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 approved to install temporary emergency transit lanes on segments of the 14 Mission and 14R Mission Rapid to keep buses out of traffic and reduce crowding and travel times. Both routes have been a lifeline for essential trips during the pandemic and have experienced crowding despite increased service. By reducing delay from congestion, Muni can provide more frequent service and greater capacity 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: Mission Street SoMa
As part of the Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes, a full-time transit lane replaced the existing weekday peak period transit lanes on Mission Street from 11th Street to 3rd Street. The 3rd to 1st Street segment will be implemented after an unrelated construction project is complete in early 2021. Currently serving Muni routes 14 Mission and 14R Mission Rapid in addition to Golden Gate Transit and SamTrans, the full-time transit lane will help move buses more quickly and reliably along this busy downtown corridor.
In addition to installing the temporary full-time transit lane, the travel lanes were widened to better accommodate the buses. The lanes on Mission Street were too narrow to accommodate traffic and buses which has contributed to unsafe street conditions and 225 collisions involving transit in the past five years.
When the temporary full-time transit lanes were installed, parking and loading zones were adjusted, with parking and loading removed from one side of the street on each block to provide space for buses to move more efficiently and help traffic flow. One lane of parking and loading was maintained on each block and restored to 24/7 use from the former part-time tow-away.
- Install temporary 24/7 bus lanes (replaces part-time bus lanes)
- Convert part-time tow-away to 24/7 tow-away on one side of Mission Street
- Restore 24/7 parking on other side by eliminating part-time tow-away
- Widen lanes to accommodate buses
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.
On Mission Street, the temporary emergency transit lanes were installed in late summer 2020 and were 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 included, but were not limited to:
- Health and safety benefits
- Economic health
- Neighborhood impacts and equity
- Transit performance
- Traffic safety
Community-based organizations, stakeholders and neighbors were 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 were collected after implementation and continue to inform as-needed changes to the transit lanes.
How we evaluated and collected feedback
After the temporary emergency transit lanes were installed, we evaluated the effectiveness by looking at the results from both a community survey and a technical evaluation of the lanes. Sign up for project updates to stay up to date with how the project is progressing.