City approves speed improvements to Muni’s 5-Fulton line

Riders of Muni’s 5-Fulton line, right, can expect quicker travel now that the SFMTA has approved the removal of bus stops and added traffic circles along McAllister Street. (Cindy Chew/2009 S.F. Examiner)

The more than 20,000 riders of Muni’s 5-Fulton line may soon see a speedier trip.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors approved a bundle of changes to the streets along the 5-Fulton line at their Tuesday meeting.

The road changes are estimated by the SFMTA to cut travel time on the 5-Fulton down by 20 percent.

It’s all part of SFMTA’s Muni Forward initiative, which aims to speed up Muni service across The City. To that end, the SFMTA will remove a bus stop on McAllister and Lyon streets, move two bus stops and create two traffic circles along McAllister Street, among other changes.

The project also includes a host of pedestrian safety sidewalk improvements, which will aid The City’s “Vision Zero” goal to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero by 2024.

Still, some thought the efforts to boost the 5-Fulton didn’t go far enough.

Jason Henderson, a San Francisco State University professor who specializes in urban transportation, said the 5-Fulton project originally included wire bypasses, which would allow buses on wires to pass around each other.

Notably this would allow the 5-Fulton Rapid, which is currently a hybrid bus, to be put on wires, which is a boon to the environment, Henderson said.

“It may cost a little more money, but it’s better quality of life,” Henderson said. The streets along the 5-Fulton route are residential, he said, “those people deserve peace and quiet.”

Muni Forward Program Manager Sean Kennedy said experts at the SFMTA determined the wire bypasses might lengthen trips along the 5-Fulton route. To use the bypasses, he said, buses need to slow down considerably.

Also, he said, the bypasses are for now “not economically feasible.”

The San Francisco Transit Riders, a local advocacy group, was enthusiastic about the changes.

“Looking at just one driver on a single route, eliminating one, two, or even six minutes for each lap adds up dramatically,” said Andy Bosselman, of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, in a statement.

The project is partially funded by the 2014 Transportation and Road Improvement Bond. The $500 million bond was approved by San Francisco voters to invest into significant transit changes.

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