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Muni riders defend Mission ‘red carpet’ lanes

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(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Those seeing red over the new transit only “red carpet” lanes along Mission Street are now facing backlash from bus riders.

Led by the advocacy group San Francisco Transit Riders, supporters of the lanes are sounding off by creating a social media campaign called #KeepMissionRed.

The controversial bus and taxi-only lane stretches along Mission Street from 30th to 14th streets, and comes packaged with a number of turn restrictions that have frustrated drivers.

Also, Mission district shop owners the San Francisco Examiner spoke with said they saw a dip in business since the lanes were painted in February.

But Andy Bosselman, a spokesman for the transit riders, said they don’t want to see transit improvements sacrificed.

“The streets we have need to move more people,” Bosselman said. “That means prioritizing transit and bikes. Unfortunately, these changes affect drivers and we know without doubt that drivers are going to scream and holler.”

The 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness, two heavily trafficked commuter lines, are already speeding up because of the lanes, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Despite the outcry, the red lanes aren’t going anywhere — yet.

“No changes to report at this time,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. But Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the Mission, has called for community meetings about the lane.

“We have committed to continue to work with Supervisor Campos’ office to coordinate an additional meeting with the community to listen to their concerns and make additional adjustments, if appropriate,” Rose said.

Campos said in a Facebook post that he’s heard from many frustrated Mission district businesses who’ve had problems with loading zones, as well as drivers who’ve seen “traffic jams” since the red lanes were installed.

“The changes look better on paper than in practice,” Campos wrote.

Rose noted that 60 percent of people get to the Mission by transit and only 12 percent by car.

“Riding (Muni) is much faster/smoother with the new transit lanes,” Jamison Wieser, one of the many to sound off using hashtag #KeepMissionRed, posted to Twitter.

Others using the hashtag on Twitter said buses are “key” for low income families.

A survey conducted by the SFMTA before the red lanes were installed found that 63 percent of 500 residents polled were neutral about bus only lanes.

Bosselman said the SFMTA is often hamstrung by public anger.

“The result is that every project gets watered down,” he said, “The entire problem the project tries to solve ends up getting little or none of the intended benefit.”

Below are more tweets from “#KeepMissionRed”

Click here or scroll down to comment

  • goodmaab

    Simple question for muni why are the red lanes on the outside lanes vs the inside lanes?

    By not giving the outside lanes to parking and turning vehicles they just made a mess.

    To prioritize means you need to work it out in advance and this version with broken red lines varying locations and non-enforcement on the first day means a lack of communication between agencies

  • RealFakeSanFranciscan

    How do you intend for people to safely wait for and board a bus stopping in the inside lanes? There’s no island.

  • goodmaab

    Exactly, poor planning outreach and communication between the planners and the riders. There should be island stops along the entire route to Daly City Bart at 3-4-5 possibly intervals and at those areas side parking and lanes will need to be adjusted. They just painted lanes red / quick easy install not really considering the impacts and follow through.

  • gneiss

    Putting the lanes in the center of the street rather than outsides would have meant building transit islands in the street for stops on Mission. This option was actually considered. At the locations where they islands were to be installed, parking spaces would have needed to be removed to adjust the width of the street. Merchants complained that this would have lead to loss of business, so SFMTA adjusted and came up with this alternate plan that lead to very minimal parking loss by putting the lanes on the edge rather than in the middle. This was acceptable to merchants because there would be no parking loss.

  • eean

    tl;dr: we can’t have nice things

  • Lizette Wanzer

    MUNI cannot drop people off in the middle of the street, especially not the disabled, visually impaired, parents with strollers, and the elderly.

  • Sure they can – they’re planning on doing it on the L Taraval with crosshatch paint.

  • Lizette Wanzer

    With paint, eh? Ha ha! Well, God help those riders as they disembark and gingerly negotiate Mission Street’s bustling, impatient drivers. May the force be with them. They will need it.

  • goodmaab

    did not say middle of the street, they need to consider the flows of traffic, the need to park, the need to turn and change lanes, the red striping does not do this….

  • goodmaab

    The problem if you drive from the excelsior in the downtown direction, is that people come to the mission, for errands, drop-offs, and other activities, Cars will still come in that general direction, the problem with the edge red lanes, is that people swerve out to get around left-turners, or with double parkers in the red lanes and lacking enforcement along the route, there is no safe area to drop. Cars are hurtling down the mission as always, with a disregard to transit traffic. So we need to adjust to allow for safer pedestrian drop zones, either through islands and removed parking, or they have to flip the lanes to the inner side, and the muni drivers either have to pull to the right lane drop zones, or have an adjusted middle island created for center dropping of passengers (sim. to LRV vehicles…) which may actually work beter if we go to future trolley, or above ground light-rail along van ness out the mission to the excelsior and daly city… The retail issues will have to look also at parking garages, and lack of them in the mission/excelsior districts. and where it may be opportunity to provide better bike and shared parking amenities.

  • Mayoral Debates


  • Darksoul SF

    Forcing Turns and Favoring the riders who probaly care about getting there faster..

    If Business drops mean less people will get on those buses on those stops.

  • jgkiefer

    Just remove the parking spaces and turn in the curb side lane into buses only.

  • sfparkripoff

    Bhah ha ha ha ha! More smoke and mirrors from the SFMTA! Back in the late 1990’s the SFMTA embraced a strategy that is widely known as “astroturfing” (Lobbying in a sneaky, roundabout fashion), by setting up their own faux-grassroots organizations.

    The San Francisco Transit Riders Union was created and run by the same
    city planners who created the SFMTA. The Transit Riders Union claims that that they are a “rider-based grassroots advocates for transit” but they shamelessly lobby the city for transportation projects, and bond measures, that raise our property taxes and rents.

    The SFMTA actively uses their (Transit, Walking, and bicycling) non-profit “advocates” to forward their own agenda. In reality these “grassroots” organizations are the tentacles of corporate interests that are after lucrative city contracts. Someone is getting paid for all that red paint and someone else will profit from the fines from driving on that red paint. Don’t let em sucker you taxpayers! San Francisco is infested with transit rider “advocacy” groups that clearly aren’t grassroots. If you follow the money you will find that many of them are directly (and indirectly) funded by our own Municipal Transit Agency and their Billion dollar budget.

  • This is the perfect example of what is wrong. Merchants and drivers are allowed to veto what benefits the vast majority, for the benefit of what is often a tiny few. I pay the same city infrastructure taxes as drivers, yet I get a tiny percentage of the benefit. Ideally, cars need to exist within their per capita share of the total street space, and bus riders should get the full measure of theirs — and then, we will have an efficient transportation system. Giving cars a disproportionate share of the space is what creates gridlock.

  • Hmm, you have an odd definition of “grassroots advocates.” Aren’t “grassroots advocates for transit” supposed to “lobby” for “transportation projects”? As a card carrying non-transit professional, with no connection whatsoever to city government or the transit agency, and as someone who donates substantial money to the TRU, I resent being told I’m funded by the MTA. I wish I was.

  • The city actually implemented a solution that worked well for transit riders and drivers, albeit unintentionally. When the busses were moved to South Van Ness for a construction project on Mission, they operated noticeably faster. I wouldn’t know, but I would guess that drivers had a better experience on Mission. Either cars or busses should be moved off of Mission and to South Van Ness, and Mission made exclusive to the other. That would mean faster transportation for everyone. As a wider concept, why not implement that throughout the city? Cars can have every other street to enjoy their gridlock by themselves, while busses and bicycle lanes share the alternating streets, creating a truly rapid transit network.

  • RickRollington

    Cars are stupid in a city of this size. I’d love to see many streets closed to them entirely.

  • sebra leaves

    Thanks Donald.

    That is what some of us are suggesting. Move the south bound express lane to South Van Ness and put smaller faster, more frequent buses and jitneys (yes, we want jitneys) on Mission Street for local traffic. And leave the bus stops and parking on Mission Street alone.

    The north bound traffic coming off of the 280 from San Jose can be routed Guerrero to 14th Street and then onto Van Ness Ave North. The local traffic and East Bound traffic can turn right onto Cesar Chavez and, access 101 just past Potrero, or go on to 280 to downtown.

    This is a driver’s and merchants’ perspective. Our number one goal is to move the traffic and the Muni at a nice pace and keep the Mission open to visitors and residents.

    If your number one goal is to stop traffic to force people out of their cars, you will want to continue this insane red lane projects, with tattooed streets all over town that no one understands or pays any attention to.

  • sfparkripoff

    Check the internet archive website of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union from May 28th 2010. Under “whoweare” The SFTRU Steering Committee Membership includes a number of SFMTA funded organizations and including:

    Walk SF
    The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
    Transport Workers United Local 250-A

  • The problem from my perspective, Sebra, is that I care what drivers need just about as much as drivers care what bus riders need — which is not at all. That said, if automobiles can be accommodated along with a fast bus network, I am not opposed to that, but the latter should be the clear priority. A car with one or five people in it should have far less priority than any vehicle with twenty or fifty people inside, almost by definition.
    In the bigger picture, I believe the wider problem is that the city is exactly the wrong density. It is not dense enough for public transit to work the way it does in New York, with everything you need in life within a casual walk of your home, but it is too dense for automobiles to work well, although the density is such that drivers can lie to themselves and pretend they can quickly get where they want on our saturated roads. Since, in the real world, San Francisco’s density is not going to go down, there is only one solution to this problem, and drivers aren’t going to like it.
    There’s no reason they should. Drivers have had a disproportionate share of the resources for around seventy years. Now that they are being forced to share, it should be surprising to no one that they are unhappy. That does not mean they should get their way.

  • None of these organizations are primarily funded by the SFMTA, or most likely at all, though you are correct that the two events you list partially are. In fact, most the first two are partially funded by me. Even though I rarely ride a bike, I joined the Bicycle Coalition many years ago since they were (and are) the most politically successful organization at standing up to automobile interests. Drivers should support their goals: every person riding a bus or walking to work or bicycling is not someone consuming large areas of road space and creating gridlock.

  • I agree. See my comment on density in response to Sebra Leaves.

  • Sebra Leaves: no one understands or pays any attention to
    This is not true. I am a Kaiser customer and I frequently go to the Geary campus and take the bus to work downtown. This used to take 30-40 minutes, even on the “express” bus. Post red lane, it’s down to 10-15 minutes. The improvement has been dramatic.

  • There is no way to prove this, but personal observation suggests to me that the vast majority of people shopping and partying in the Mission get there on public transit or walk. There is not enough streets space, and never will be, for the majority to drive.

  • sfparkripoff

    “Cars are stupid in a city of this size”.

    Please tell us more about this “fantasy” of a car-free city where hundreds of thousands of commuters suddenly start “walking and cycling” across the bridges and tunnels to their jobs every day?

    While we are at it lets ban all cars starting with the thousands of cars that City Hall and the SFMTA use and then rescind all of the parking permits that are issued to public officials.

  • sfparkripoff

    “Giving cars a disproportionate share of the space is what creates gridlock.”

    Cars don’t cause traffic gridlock. MUNI causes its own gridlock. The SF Weekly reported an estimated 2,500 Muni drivers have packed into a class action lawsuit against the SFMTA alleging the Municipal Transportation Agency has been wasting their time and failing to pay their fair share for overtime work.

    They claim they are paid based upon a certain number of hours of driving time and that Muni has designed their routes so that staying on schedule is actually impossible.

  • Nope. If there were nothing but busses on the road, there would be little (though not no) gridlock. If there were no busses (or pedestrians and bicyclists) on the road, our narrow streets would still be gridlocked, especially downtown. Ergo, cars are the primary cause of gridlock.

  • sfparkripoff

    Cars don’t cause traffic gridlock. MUNI causes its own gridlock. The SF Weekly reported an estimated 2,500 Muni drivers have packed into a class action lawsuit against the SFMTA alleging the Municipal Transportation Agency has been wasting their time and failing to pay their fair share for overtime work.

    They claim they are paid based upon a certain number of hours of driving time and that Muni has designed their routes so that staying on schedule is actually impossible. Transit only lanes will not change the fact that MUNI is mismanaged.

  • Your second paragraph is the first thing you’ve written that I agree with, and wholeheartedly so. As for the fantasy, visit New York or London. Or, recall that today, in the real world, BART handles fully half the trans-bay commute; the passenger capacity of the Bay Bridge was almost twice what it is now when the bottom deck was rail; and that something on the order of 70-80 percent of all workers downtown get there on public transit. The evidence suggests that the “fantasy” can be made to work. Moreover, it clearly shows that, at least downtown, the tiny minority that are driving are causing almost all the problems.

  • njudah

    who funds “SF Park Ripoff” you can’t possibly have a day job if you spend all day on every blog posting these long comments. I’ve heard rumors you get Koch Brothers funding, surely that’s not true?

  • goodmaab

    As I stated prior they must follow safe de boarding area designs and plans per DOT requirements if it means a system of platforms and islands than they need to consider alternating them between stops inbound and outbound or look at other methods of removing parking areas to improve safety and crossing area demarcation. I never said dump them in front of traffic…

  • sfparkripoff

    The Problem with you logic is that MUNI buses are only filled during commute hours. The rest of the time they lumber around the streets, with only a few passengers inside of them, blocking intersections, and clogging up streets for everyone else.

    Public transit vehicles are a far greater cause of gridlock than private cars. Why? Cars drive directly to their destination, usually taking the shortest route and then they park. MUNI on the other hand stops every few blocks to pick up and offload passengers. The T-Third Street line for example is nearly empty for most of 3rd street and its the slowest train in the city. The board with timed arrivals often say the train is arriving or here when there is no train to be seen.

    Then there’s the closure of Market Street that gridlocked the adjacent side streets for all other traffic and this morning MUNI had another MELTDOWN where equipment problems led to delays on the N-Judah and J-Church Muni lines. (Don’t forget to blame those MUNI delays on cars too).

  • sfparkripoff

    Hey San Francisco. Your city Streets are starting to resemble those in North Korea and Communist China. Aside from your streets being poorly maintained they are now blanketed in Communist Red Paint. Your entire transit system is run by a totalitarian government that uses the infrastructure to both profit and prey on citizens. Did you know that fully 1/3 of SFMTA’s annual transit budget is extorted from fines and fees on the public?

    San Francisco’s public streets are restricted to certain uses, where (Communist Red) transit only and bicycles are designated by senior government officials. The third lane is for average citizens who are not permitted to change lanes nor drive faster than 5 mph. Your government has installed Forward facing cameras on public buses to enforce the Communist Red Transit Only lanes under the Transit Only Lane Enforcement
    (TOLE) Program

    Your Automobile transportation is further restricted by a series of
    regulations and laws that now ban them from various streets and public spaces including Market Street and Twin Peaks. The official “Transit First” propaganda from the SFMTA either lies by omission, or selectively presents facts to further the “state sponsored” agenda that has been approved by your supreme leader.

    If you have had ENUF of living under SFMTA’s Communist Red empire then sign the petition to fire the Agency at (Go to search engine and type stopsfmta)