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To dismay of neighbors, SF will remove Muni stop near Safeway

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The L-Taraval train stop in front of a Sunset Safeway will be removed on a trial basis. (Daniel Kim/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)

Muni will continue with its plans to remove an L-Taraval train stop in front of a Sunset District Safeway, despite unsuccessful demands from neighbors that the transit agency’s board take up the matter for a second vote, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

At Tuesday’s San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors meeting, Sunset residents said seniors and people with disabilities will have a tough time taking their groceries home from Safeway via the L-Taraval train.

The inbound 17th Avenue train stop is directly across from a Safeway grocery store. After the stop is removed, the nearest stop will be blocks away and across 19th Avenue, which neighbors cited as a safety hazard.

“We’re here to ask you to reconsider,” said Paula Katz, with the “Save our L Taraval Stops!” advocacy group. She was flanked by neighbors who also spoke in support of the transit stop.

However, removing the stop will allow SFMTA staff time to evaluate impacts to neighbors and shoppers of the nearby Safeway, said SFMTA Board Chair Cheryl Brinkman.

“What I heard from the board at the meeting, which legislated the L-Taraval changes is the desire to see how the removal impacts riders, positively and negatively,” Brinkman told the Examiner. “We will expect staff to keep us updated on impacts.”

The stop will be removed on a trial basis from February to May, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

The stop removal is one change among many the SFMTA board voted to enact on various portions of the L-Taraval Rapid Project in 2016, and on Dec 5., 2017, the board advised staff to remove the stop on a trial basis.

There will be a final vote to permanently remove the stop sometime this summer, Rose said.

The L-Taraval Rapid Project aims to make the L-Taraval line safer and faster. The $90 million project will see concrete boarding islands installed along Taraval Street to protect riders from oncoming traffic, and various train stops removed and moved.

Katz argued that SFMTA staff removed the stop in order to speed the L-Taraval line by “20 to 30 seconds,” but staff would be better served by fixing the Twin Peaks Tunnel, which the L-Taraval travels through, to save minutes.

She also said the stop is a “major trip generator,” in arguing for its preservation.

About 488 people board the L-Taraval at the 17th Avenue inbound stop near Safeway per day, and 184 people disembark, according to SFMTA data.

By comparison, the 19th Avenue L-Taraval inbound stop sees 660 boardings and 421 people disembarking every day.

The most often-used stop is 22nd Avenue, with 872 boardings and 278 people disembarking daily, according to the SFMTA.

The project is set for construction this summer with estimated completion in 2020.

“The safety and efficiency of the L-Taraval are important to the board,” Brinkman said. “It is not an easy decision to remove a stop.”

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