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Muni to improve transit for communities of color, low-income riders

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(Gabrielle Lurie/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The City is set to make improvements to service on Muni routes specifically aimed at helping low-income riders and communities of color, officials said Tuesday.

From the 9-Rapid line in the Mission District to 29-Sunset on the West side to the 56-Rutland in Visitacion Valley, a dozen Muni routes will get service boosts between August and February aimed at improving service for what transportation officials call “communities of concern.”

Communities of concern are primarily low-income or communities of color, but improvements for people with disabilities and seniors are part of the plan as well. All of these service adjustments are part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Muni Equity Strategy, which the agency is folding into its overall strategy at improving transit service. That strategy includes seven target areas: Chinatown, the Tenderloin/South of Market, Western Addition, the Mission, the Bayview,Visitacion Valley, Outer Mission/Excelsior and the Oceanview/Ingleside district.

The improvements include boosted frequency of service for the K, T and 8 lines, which will be implemented through August, and increased service frequency for the M, 12, 29 and 44 lines by February next year, according to the SFMTA. The 9R route, which runs past Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, will now see longer 60-foot articulated buses, as opposed to 40-foot buses, to ease crowding. The 30-Stockton will net longer 60-foot buses along more portions of its route. The 48 Quintara will see its route extended to Ocean Beach, and the 56-Rutland will see its schedule re-tooled to match neighborhood concerns.

Muni Equity Strategy improvements were discussed in a Tuesday morning meeting of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which itself has no direct control over Muni service but offers some funding for additional service.

Sean Kennedy, acting deputy director of transit operations at SFMTA, told the SFCTA board, who are the Board of Supervisors, that grant funding allowed transit planners more time and ability to reach out to the communities of concern to ask them what routes they needed improved, and how.

“It’s not rocket science,” Kennedy told the board. “The more contact you can have with these neighborhoods and these groups, the better it is for everyone.”

As part of that equity strategy, Kennedy said transit planners attended more than 40 community events. Through Facebook, surveys, and outreach organizations such as neighborhood groups, the SFMTA estimated it reached some 65,000 people with its questions on how to improve neighborhood service.

Kennedy said that level of outreach should be sustained, and normal, moving forward.

“We’re planning to go to these groups when we don’t necessarily have anything to talk about,” he said, “so the equity strategy will just be folded into everything we do.”

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